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Table of Contents
What Is A Truck Accident Lawsuit
A truck accident lawsuit is a type of lawsuit where the parties involved have a legal dispute relating to a truck accident or an incident involving a truck.
Getting into an accident with a truck can be quite destructive mainly due to a truck’s sheer weight and size.
Unfortunately, truck accidents are one of the deadliest types of accidents on the road as in many cases the victims suffer significant property damage and catastrophic injuries.
A “truck” is generally considered to be a large vehicle and may be subject to trucking laws and regulations operating on the roads.
Let’s look at the different types of trucks you can see on the road and may be the object of a truck lawsuit.
A truck accident can involve a wide variety of trucks that may be commercial trucks, governmental trucks, or private trucks.
Commercial trucks include:
- Tanker trucks
- Tractor trailers
- Garbage trucks
- Tow trucks
- Mass transit buses
Commercial trucks are required to follow strict laws and regulations to be authorized to operate on the roads.
For example, the truck drivers must be properly trained to operate the truck, the vehicle must be maintained according to certain standards, there are rules to observe with regards to loads and ensure that they are secure, and so on.
Another class of trucks involves government vehicles such as:
- Fire trucks
- Utility trucks
- Police trucks
- Government agency trucks
Any type of truck operated by the government, government agency, or governmental body falls under the category of government trucks.
Just like any other types of trucks, government trucks are also required to follow the proper safety standards and norms applicable to the maintenance and operation of a truck.
Private trucks are large vehicles operated by private individuals such as recreational vehicles (RV).
There are more and more RVs on the road where individuals and their families either rent them or buy them for personal activities and leisure.
Unfortunately, driving an RV can be difficult and may result in accidents causing damages to others.
Truck Accident Legal Action
In many cases, the victims or their families involved in a truck accident may consider filing a trucking lawsuit seeking compensation for the damages suffered.
Since trucks are much larger than conventional passenger vehicles, even an accident at lower speeds can result in significant property damage and severe physical injuries.
Statistics show that truck accidents are also more fatal than other types of motor vehicle accidents.
As such, the victim of a truck accident should consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to assess the damages or claims possible following an accident.
Truck Accident Laws
In the context of a truck accident legal case, there may be federal laws, state laws, or specific laws relating to trucking and truck companies that may apply.
Let’s look at the main type of truck accident laws that may apply.
Federal Trucking Laws
Under federal legislation, you have the Code of Federal Regulations governing many aspects of the trucking industry.
Trucking companies, truck owners, carriers, or other stakeholders operating within the trucking industry must comply with the requirements of the federal laws and regulations at all times.
Under the Federal trucking laws, you’ll need to consider things like:
- The number of hours a truck driver can work in a day
- How many hours consecutively a driver can work in a day
- How many hours a truck driver must spend between different shifts
- The nature of logs and records that must be kept
There are also different trucking agencies such as the U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) managing various safety and trucking norms to observe.
State Trucking Laws
At the state level, there are also various trucking laws that regulate the trucking industry, commercial trucks, or any other type of truck on the road.
The state laws vary and so you’ll need to look up each individual state’s department of transportation laws and regulations to better understand what’s applicable.
In addition to the specific trucking laws, in the event of an accident, a plaintiff may also invoke personal injury laws to file a claim against the at-fault parties and defendants.
Depending on the applicable personal injury laws, the plaintiff may be able to seek compensation for damages suffered as a result of a trucking accident.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
There are potentially many reasons why a person may get into a truck accident on the roads.
Here are some of the most common reasons why truck accidents happen:
- Driver fatigue
- Truck speeding over limits
- Traffic violations
- Truck driver distraction
- Driving under the influence of alcohol
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Lack of truck maintenance
- Inadequate truck inspection
- Improperly loaded truck
- Cargo shifts
- Poor road conditions
- Illegal maneuvers
- Inexperienced driver
- Tire blowouts
- Following too closely
- Negligent supervision
The consequences of an accident can be devastating for the victim and the victim’s family.
As a result, no matter the cause of the accident with a truck or commercial motor vehicle, an experienced truck accident lawyer or truck accident law firm can help you investigate the accident and put together a solid case for you to get compensated.
Who Is Liable For A Truck Accident
A truck accident may be caused for a number of factors and may result in the liability of one or many parties.
In most cases, the first person that is assumed to be liable for the truck accident is the truck driver as he or she was the one directly operating the truck.
A truck driver can be responsible for causing the truck accident due to fatigue, violating traffic laws, driving aggressively, tailgating another vehicle, or driving in a negligent manner.
In addition to the truck driver, other parties can be held liable for damages caused by an accident involving a truck, such as:
- Contracted truck driver
- The company responsible for loading the truck
- The truck manufacturer
- The manufacturer of defective truck parts
- The government
- Shipper of cargo
- Truck driver employer
If you or a loved one have been in a truck accident suffering damages, you’ll want to call a truck accident lawyer to get legal advice on your recourse and legal options.
The trucking laws and regulations are complex and you’ll need the counsel of a professional to help you assess the specifics of your case and properly identify the defendant (or multiple defendants) responsible for your accident.
How To File A Truck Accident Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit for an accident with a truck will involve several steps.
If you want to succeed with your lawsuit, you must go through every step carefully to ensure you put all the chances on your side to win.
Let’s go over the main steps in filing a trucking accident lawsuit.
Step 1: Assess Your Claim
The first step is to speak to a truck accident attorney to have your claim assessed and validated.
With the help of an attorney, you should conduct a detailed assessment to ensure that your claim can be legally justified and provable.
You’ll need to assess the circumstances of the accident, the nature of the evidence available to you, the damages that you suffered, along with all other factors relating to the accident.
In many cases, trucking accident attorneys offer a free consultation to evaluate your case.
It’s important that you take advantage of that.
Step 2: Investigation
Once you have determined that you have a legally justifiable claim, the next step is to further investigate the matter.
As part of the investigation phase, you or your attorney will need to gather further evidence relating to your claim, such as:
- Speak to medical practitioners and get medical reports
- Get police reports
- Gather pictures or video recordings
- Identify possible witnesses and possibly interview them
- Collect truck certificates, logs, and other details
- Get details relating to road conditions and structures
In this investigation phase, the idea is to gather all evidence you need to bolster your legal position or fill in the gaps relating to the elements you need to prove.
Step 3: File Lawsuit
Once your case is thoroughly evaluated and investigated, the next step is the actual filing of a claim or lawsuit.
In this case, your attorney will need to guide you as to what claims to file and where.
In some cases, you may want to file an insurance claim, a workers’ compensation claim, or possibly file a lawsuit.
If your decision is to file a lawsuit, it means that you will draft legal proceedings and file a legal action against the defendant (or defendants) you consider to be liable for your damages.
The service of the complaint and summons to the defendant formally initiates the truck accident civil lawsuit.
Step 4: Negotiate A Settlement
In the context of a civil lawsuit, the plaintiff and the defendant will need to legally build their case so eventually the matter can be heard by a judge or jury for judgment on the merits.
In that process, an important stage in any civil lawsuit is the discovery phase where witnesses are deposed and documents exchanged.
Statistically, a large number of cases are settled after discovery and before trial as the parties have a much better understanding of the legal position and strengths (and weaknesses) of their case.
If your case was properly structured, you will have a much better chance of settling the matter and getting fair compensation without having to litigate the matter in court.
Your truck accident lawyers can help you evaluate the proper truck accident settlement amount that makes sense and properly compensates you for your damages.
Step 5: Go To Trial
If you are not able to get the minimum trucks settlement amount you had in mind or the truck accident settlements proposed were not to your satisfaction, the next step is to go to trial.
Going to trial means that you, as the plaintiff, will present your case to the court (likely to be the jury) who will hear your case, evaluate your evidence, and render a verdict.
The defendant will attempt to attack your evidence and present a case leading to the dismissal of your case.
If you are able to succeed in your lawsuit, you will get an award from the court giving you compensation for your damages.
It’s difficult to determine in advance if you will win your case and for how much.
As a result, it’s important to get advice from your attorney as to your legal position, the benefits and drawbacks of going to trial, and the consequences of trial on your case.
Truck Accident Lawsuit Settlement
What can a truck accident lawsuit settlement compensate you for?
In general, filing a lawsuit against a truck driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, or any other defendant is to seek compensation for the financial and non-financial damages caused by the accident.
The victim of a truck accident can expect to be compensated for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Medical care costs
- Lost earnings
- Loss of future wages
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In the case of a wrongful death claim where the victim of the accident passes away, you can also ask for the funeral and burial costs, survivor costs representing the victim’s pain and suffering, and other damages.
An important element to keep in mind is that truck accident settlements will generally not include any punitive damages.
The objective of a settlement is for the defendant to pay the plaintiff a certain sum of money and avoid the risk of litigation and possibly the award of punitive damages against it.
However, if the matter goes to trial, then the court can award the plaintiff punitive damages if the defendant’s misconduct or actions were so reckless or negligent that the court considers the defendant ought to be punished.
Truck Accident Claim Statute of Limitations
If you are looking to file a lawsuit or claim against a trucking company, truck driver, or anyone responsible for a truck accident, you’ll need to act fast.
Every state has a different statute of limitations laws establishing the legal timeline you have to file a claim against a defendant at fault in the context of a truck accident.
If you file your legal action within the legal deadline, then you may be able to pursue your claim without any issues.
However, if you file your lawsuit past the statute of limitations deadline, you may be legally barred to present your claim.
Since every accident is different and the laws applicable to the accident may be different, your best bet to ensure you know how long you have to file a lawsuit is to get a legal consultation with an attorney dealing with truck accident claims.
Truck Accident Lawsuit Verdicts
Filing a lawsuit following a truck accident is primarily to allow the victim of the accident (the plaintiff) to recover damages for injuries siffered.
Let’s look at some of the most notable truck accident verdicts rendered by the court.
In 2018, the plaintiff in a truck accident lawsuit received $101 million against an oil service company for a truck accident that took place in 2013.
In another case in 2018, the court awarded $53 million to two brothers who got into a head-on accident with a semi truck crossing the road centerline.
In 2019, the plaintiff in a truck accident lawsuit was awarded $80 million for damages caused by the truck driver who violated trucking laws regulating how many hours a truck driver is authorized to work.
These are cases that are notable as the plaintiffs were able to get compensation for the damages.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that not all truck accident cases end up in significant payouts.
Every lawsuit relating to truck accidents are unique, the facts of the case are unique, and the legal basis may be different resulting in different outcomes.
If you need legal advice on your specific case, you should consult with (or hire) an attorney who can support you in the process.
Truck Accident Lawsuits Takeaways
So there you have it folks!
Truck accidents are different than other types of car accidents as they cause more serious damages, possibly catastrophic damages.
In addition to their more destructive nature, truck accidents also involve more complex legal cases and possibly complex litigation.
Unfortunately, thousands of people are killed every year in the United States due to accidents involving large trucks causing important damages to the surviving families.
When the injuries are not fatal, the risk of suffering debilitating injuries is high leading to significant medical expenses and costs.
There are many parties that may be liable for a truck accident such as:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- Independent contractors
- Truck manufacturer for a defective vehicle
- Cargo loader
- Truck Maintenance company
- The government
The most common causes of truck accidents are:
- Excessive speeding
- Careless driving
- Truck driver fatigue
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Poor truck maintenance
- Defective parts
- Faulty cargo loading
To ensure that you put all your chances on your side to win your truck accident claim, you should:
- Consult with a truck accident attorney
- Get legal advice on the validity and strength of your claim
- Assess how much is your truck accident claim worth
- Gather all the evidence you need for your lawsuit
- Work with your lawyer to draft the lawsuit paperwork
- File your lawsuit in court and serve the defendant
- Negotiate a truck accident settlement or proceed to trial
If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a truck, you should consult a lawyer or law firm specialized in truck accidents to assess your case, provide you with your legal options, and explain to you how to file a lawsuit for your truck accident.
I hope I was able to provide you with the essential information you need in dealing with truck accident lawsuits and claims.
Let’s look at a summary of our findings.
Trucking Accident Lawsuits Essentials
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