Things to Know Before Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, you are probably in pain and very upset, and you are probably wondering how to hire the best truck accident lawyer to represent you. Before you hire any lawyer, there are several things you should consider-this is particularly true if you have been involved in a trucking accident.
Considering the difference in size between semi-trucks and cars, its no surprise that trucking accidents account for a high percentage of fatal vehicle accidents. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in large trucks accidents, 1 percent were fatal and nearly 20 percent had one non-fatal injury. Driver fatigue, jackknifing, rollovers, inexperience, and overloaded or improperly load trucks can all lead to trucking accidents, and the results can be devastating for those in passenger cars.
Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer
When it comes to injuries and liabilities, a trucking accident is different from a car crash, and you should look for a lawyer who focuses on this particular area of personal injury law. Proving liability and damages in a truck accident can be very complicated, and there are many things your truck accident lawyer should focus on that other personal injury lawyers may not be aware of. There are several questions a trucking accident lawyer should help you answer:
Who may be liable? The trucker, the trucking company, and the manufacturer of the truck may all bear some liability in an accident, and your truck accident lawyer can help you determine who is most at fault.
In some cases, you may have a claim against the trucking company for the actions of the truck driver, under what's called a respondeat superior theory of law, where the employer is responsible for the actions of employees performed within the scope of their employment.
The trucking company will probably try to prove that the driver was using the truck for personal reasons or was an independent contractor, which means the company has no liability. An experienced lawyer will anticipate these types of arguments and know the best ways to counter them.
What was the driver doing before the accident? A lawyer who handles trucking accident cases will carefully evaluate the actions of the truck driver and the trucking company, including how the truck was maintained and loaded; whether it was properly inspected; whether the driver was properly licensed and trained; and whether the driver was physically or mentally impaired when the accident happened.
Was the driver fatigued? Driver fatigue is a leading cause of trucking accidents. A trucking accident attorney will examine drivers logs to see if the trucker was following laws that limit how long truck drivers can be on the road between required breaks and rest periods.
Was there an equipment failure? If the trucks brakes failed or something else went wrong that was beyond the drivers control, the manufacturer may bear some of the liability, too. Your attorney will know which experts can evaluate whether equipment failure was an issue.
As the victim of a trucking accident, you may be able to sue for several types of damages, including economic damages, which could include medical care, physical therapy, and loss of earnings; non-economic damages, such as for pain and suffering; punitive damages, if the trucking company acted in bad faith; and double or triple damages if the driver acted under specific circumstances, such as drunk driving.
If you have been injured by a truck driver, you need to find a lawyer who focuses on trucking accidents, and its important to find one right away. That way, evidence can be preserved, and you are more likely to get the compensation you are entitled to.