Truck Accident Lawyer: 18-wheeler Crash Lawyers
It might be blatantly obvious to you that you were not to blame for the 18-wheeler accident that you were involved in, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy for you to get the just restitution you deserve. The defendant, according to Texas law, does not owe you a thing; if you want to get fair compensation, you will have to fight to get it.
Accident injury victims who choose to represent themselves in litigation almost never win. Often, they leave the courtroom with nothing and wind up making the worst mistake of their lives. As a result of their choice to go it alone, they are now on the hook for all the medical expenses they’ve incurred, as well as the other financial losses they have accumulated. Most of the time, a seasoned and skilled trucking accident attorney can mean the difference between you getting thousands – or possibly millions – of dollars for your injury and getting nothing.
It might not be automatic that you will obtain compensation for the losses you’re incurred after your 18-wheeler accident, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a difficult process. If you have an effective trucking accident lawyer by your side, the chances of you winning your case and holding those responsible accountable for their actions will increase exponentially.
The information in this article is designed to provide the basics of the law in regard to 18-wheeler accidents. It is not intended to take the place of actual legal counsel. For a free and confidential consultation regarding the specifics of your case, call our Law Office. We will gladly answer any questions you may have concerning the law surrounding truck accidents.
The Importance of Legal Action
There are two vital purposes behind filing a claim or initiating a lawsuit against a defendant. No. 1, filing a suit will make it possible for you to recoup the monetary losses you have incurred as the result of your accident. However, you must be informed going in that, in the eyes of the law, you are not automatically entitled to get fair compensation for your injury. From the start of any litigation, the scales of justice are tilted toward the defendant, the legal term for the person or entity that caused your injury. You, the plaintiff, will have to move those scales in your favor to have a chance at winning your case. The defendant is under no kind of obligation to pay you for the injury you have suffered or the monetary losses you have experienced. You will likely have to fight extremely hard in order to get the fair compensation you have coming to you.
You have undoubtedly not only suffered physical and emotional losses, but you have also suffered financially. You are probably faced with expensive medical bills and significant repair costs and have to face the added burden of lost wages because you have not been able to return to your job since the accident occurred. If you are successful in your efforts to obtain justice and fair compensation from the defendant, this will not only help ease your monetary burdens, it will also help you get your life back on track because you will no longer have to deal with the stress of financial problems associated with the accident.
Also, initiating litigation lets you punish those responsible for the accident and help to make sure that the defendant will not make the same mistakes in the future and cause someone else to have to go through what you are experiencing.
Two Ways to Win Your Case
There are, in most cases involving a truck accident, two ways for plaintiffs to win and obtain compensation for their injuries. Most of the time, a plaintiff and defendant will be able to reach an agreement outside of court, without the need of a judge or jury intervening. There are other instances, however, where the parties cannot agree and the case goes to trial. When this happens, the plaintiff will have to win the case to have any chance of winning restitution.
When a settlement takes place, the defendant offers a certain amount of money to a plaintiff to compensate the plaintiff for his or her injuries, without being compelled to do so by a judge or jury. The plaintiff, in return, then agrees not to file any other lawsuit against the defendant to try and get any more money in the future. Accepting a fair settlement offer is of great benefit to a plaintiff, because it allows him or her to get their compensation quicker, and without having to go through the uncertainty of a trial. Make no mistake, uncertainty is always a part of the trial process, especially when a panel of randomly selected jurors is charged with deciding the fate of a claim.
Defendants are well aware that they are under no obligation legally to offer payment to a plaintiff. Because of this, it can be extremely hard to get a just settlement offer without the help of an experienced trucking accident attorney working for you. Such an attorney will make sure a crystal clear message will be sent to the defendants – settle with us, or you will be taken to court, and you might lose a lot of money. When defendants become nervous, they are more apt to offer a plaintiff a fair settlement amount rather than risk losing a great deal more money in a trial.
Whatever you do, you have to be on the alert for a bad settlement offer. In fact, you’ll probably get one before you even hire a lawyer. A defendant knows that, should you accept their offer to settle out of court, you will not be able to enlist legal help to take legal action against them for more money at a future date. Defendants are notorious for preying on confused, frazzled plaintiffs – plaintiffs who may be crying out for a quick infusion of cash. Those plaintiffs face an ever-increasing pile of bills for medical expenses, to repair automobiles, etc., and they are also likely facing the stress of lost work wages since they haven’t been able to return to their job due to their injury. Therefore, it is an all too common occurrence for defendants to dangle a carrot of easy, quick cash in front of an injury victim, and those victims, all too often, accept. As a result, the defendant is getting off extremely lightly, and will basically be off the hook from a legal standpoint. Again, if you receive one of these offers and accept it, it will be legally binding. If the defendant in your trucking accident case has offered you an out-of-court settlement, please do not accept it until an experienced trucking accident lawyer has had the chance to look it over. The attorneys with our Law Office know the true monetary value of your case and can tell you whether or not the defendant’s settlement offer is a fair one.
There are a variety of reasons that cases do not settle out of court. When that happens, a plaintiff’s only way of getting the just restitution he or she deserves is by taking the case to a trial. Because the injury victim bears the burden of proof in litigation involving a trucking accident, he or she will have the more difficult task of the two sides in a trial. In order to have a chance at winning in a trial, you have to provide compelling evidence to prove each of the four elements of every claim involving a truck accident. These elements, explained in detail below, are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Duty – In order to establish duty, you, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant in the case owed that plaintiff a duty to behave in a cautious enough manner so as not to bring harm to you. This is typically a fairly straightforward element because nearly all people owe all other people the duty to act as would a reasonable person in regard to not harming other people. This could mean not performing unreasonably dangerous actions, or taking distinct precautions in order to protect others from experiencing harm.
Breach – The next thing you must prove is that the conduct of the defendant resulted in a breach of the duty of care that was owed to you. Should the “reasonable person” duty of care apply in regard to your case, then proving breach means proving the defendant performed some sort of action that a reasonable person would not have performed. In order to establish that a breach occurred, you have to provide evidence to show the court exactly what the defendant either did or did not do. A judge or jury will then consider all of the circumstances surrounding your case and then decide whether or not the actions of the defendant can be considered a breach of the duty of care that you were owed.
Causation – The third element you must prove is causation. It is not adequate to merely prove that the defendant was in breach of the duty of care you were owed. You must also prove that the actions of the defendant caused the injury you are suffering from. To prove this element, however, you have to have a great deal of rock-solid, compelling evidence. There are multiple entities that play a role in preparing a truck for any kind of trip – an error on the part of any one of them could result in an accident. Because there are so many potentially responsible parties, many defendants will commonly attempt to sway a judge or jury that another party, or even the plaintiff, was to blame for causing the accident. You will have no chance of winning your lawsuit if you do not produce compelling enough evidence that can put the blame squarely on the defendant.
Damages – This fourth and final element refers to the monetary amount that you will collect from the defendant should you be successful in establishing the other three elements of your case. Plaintiffs can be compensated for a variety of damages, including loss of earning capacity, lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other financial losses incurred due to the accident. However, you must accurately calculate the amount of money that is owed to you, and provide evidence that supports those calculations, in order to be able to win damages. More than likely, the defendant will also calculate how much you are owed, and that number will be significantly smaller than the one you come up with. It is imperative that you present compelling proof that your calculations are correct, and you’re not merely looking for a handout. And you must also prove that the defendant’s calculations are nothing more than, basically, a desperate attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the accident that injured you.
The process by which damages are calculated can often be an incredibly intricate and complex one. Should you still be receiving ongoing medical care, it can be very tough to, on your own, be able to estimate how high your medical expenses will ultimately get. It is even more difficult to put a “price tag,” so to speak, on the more subjective types of damages such as pain and suffering. And it can be even more difficult to try and accurately calculate your long-term losses such as loss of future earning potential because you have to consider the value of money over time, potential merit raises, possible raises you may get for taking certain educational courses, and other factors. However, the trucking accident attorneys with our Law Office are very familiar with how to calculate damages, since we’ve been doing it for the last two decades. We know how much a judge or jury will likely decide how much your case is worth, and can make sure you do not get shortchanged.
Our trucking accident lawyers are here to help you, whether your case reaches an out-of-court settlement or it goes to trial. We know how to compel the defense into making our clients settlement offers that are fair, and also know how to devise strong strategies should the case have to wind up in court.
Determining the defendant
As is the case in any form of litigation, one of the first steps in a trucking accident case is to determine the defendant. Doing so in truck accident litigation can be especially difficult since there are so many parties that have an involvement in getting a truck ready for a trip. One or more of them can commit an error that can result in an accident that causes injuries or deaths. More than one error can be committed by more than one party. Should it be determined that more than one entity played a role in your accident, you can take action against all of them, and all of them can be defendants in your lawsuit.
Some of these potentially responsible parties include the company that planned the truck’s route, the company responsible for loading the truck, the manufacturer of the truck or certain parts of the truck, and, of course, the trucking company and the truck driver.
The Company that Planned the Truck’s Route
Of course, there are certain roads that a typical automobile can travel that an 18-wheeler cannot, or at least should not, travel. There are height, weight, and cargo restrictions regarding many roads, tunnels, and bridges that must be taken into consideration when the route of a truck is planned. Because of these complexities, many trucking companies choose to hire outside firms to plan truck routes. Should this company make an error in planning a route, such as ignoring vital road or bridge restrictions that can lead to a dangerous accident, that company can be held accountable for any injuries that occur.
The Company that Loaded the Truck
Often times, a truck is not dangerous on its own. Rather, the manner in which that truck is loaded can present the danger. Most trucks, by law, cannot drive with a load in excess of 80,000 pounds. However, there are a lot of companies that, in an attempt to save time and trips, will overload a truck’s trailer. And when this occurs, a truck is more susceptible to tipping over when it comes around a turn. There are other instances where a company responsible for loading a truck will do an inadequate job of fastening cargo to a flatbed trailer. As a result, inadequately loaded cargo can loosen from the flatbed and lead to an accident that causes an injury. If your accident was caused by improperly loaded or overloaded cargo, then you can sue the company that was responsible for loading the truck.
There are times where a trucking accident is caused by a manufacturer that produces parts with either manufacturing flaws or defects in design. There are lots of parts that comprise a truck, as is the case with most other vehicles, and all of these parts have to operate correctly in order for the truck to be roadworthy and safe. If, for example, the truck’s tires, or the straps designed to secure the cargo, are flawed in some manner and therefore unsafe, fellow motorists could be put in significant danger. If the manufacturer is in some way responsible for the defects or flaws of these incredibly vital parts, and an accident occurs, then that manufacturer could be held liable for any injuries that result.
The Trucking Company
While the truck driver is typically the most directly responsible party when an accident takes place, it is rare that the driver shoulders the entirety of the blame. Normally, an injury victim can sue not only the driver but also the company that owns the truck and employs the driver. Two legal theories exist that allow this to happen. The theory of “direct liability” enables plaintiffs to hold the company that owns the truck liable for the accident that occurred. If the trucking company is guilty of negligence, and the negligence led to the accident that caused your injury, the trucking company is considered directly liable. For instance, if the company that owns the truck was negligent in properly maintaining the truck’s braking system, and a brake failure led to the accident that caused your injury, then you might be able to hold the company that owns the truck directly liable for their negligence in causing the accident.
There are other times where a trucking company did not appear to do anything wrong, and that all the blame for the accident lies with the truck driver. However, under the theory of “vicarious liability,” the company that owns the truck can still be held responsible. A legal doctrine known as “respondeat superior” allows this to happen. This Latin term “respondeat superior” simply means that employers are responsible for the workplace actions of their employees, whether or not the company itself did anything wrong. In the case of an accident involving a truck, this means you can sue the trucking company as well as the driver.
The Truck Driver
Again, the driver of the truck will normally be the party most directly responsible for causing an accident to occur. Truckers can make all kinds of mistakes, both on the road and off of it. They can ignore stop signs, recklessly speed, and make turns that are illegal – basically, drive in a careless manner and pose a substantial threat to all of the other motorists on the road. Often times, though, the biggest mistakes made by truckers have little to do with the actual task of driving. They can skip mandatory rest breaks in order to meet often unfairly stringent deadlines. When this occurs, those drivers exponentially increase the chances that they will fall asleep behind the wheel and cause a devastating accident. Other drivers will take illegal stimulants in an effort to stay awake, posing a danger as well. As unbelievable as it may seem, we have seen many instances where a driver was flat-out drunk and caused an accident. Whatever the reason, if a trucker decided to make his or her delivery schedule more of a priority than your safety, or was intoxicated in some fashion, then you can initiate legal action against that careless driver.
These parties – route-planning companies, cargo-loading companies, parts manufacturers, trucking companies, and truck drivers – are just a few of the many potentially responsible entities that can be sued in the event of an accident. You have to determine exactly which party or parties were responsible for your injury in order to have any chance of getting fair compensation for the losses that you have incurred.
The Critical Importance of a Thorough Investigation
Once an accident involving an 18-wheeler takes place, it is vital that a thorough investigation is launched into all of the circumstances that surround it. Such an investigation will not only help you identify the cause of the accident and help you determine responsibility, but it will also enable you to collect the critical evidence that will be necessary to prove your case in a court of law. As was previously mentioned, the plaintiff in a truck accident case bears the burden of proof. The court does not want to simply be told how to decide a case. Judges and juries need to be able to see, touch, and hear evidence that supports your case. The compelling evidence that can be produced by a detailed investigation can make the difference between you winning your case and leaving the courtroom with nothing.
The trucking accident attorneys with our Law Office are intimately familiar with how to conduct a painstakingly detailed investigation. Our standard procedure is to immediately race to the scene of an accident in nearly every single trucking accident we take. Once we arrive at the scene, we immediately begin working to uncover evidence. There are all kinds of items that can be of immense help to you in proving your case, including physical evidence such as pieces of wreckage and skid marks, statements of witnesses, photographs and video evidence, police reports, test results, and much more. We can find this evidence and preserve it in a manner that can be used in court to prove your case.
However, you have to be aware that the other side in your case will be doing almost the exact same thing. Representatives for the defense will also visit the accident scene and pore through the wreckage looking for any sliver of evidence that they can use to suggest you, yourself were the cause of the accident. These defense operatives are normally sent to an accident scene almost immediately after it occurs. They will have with them investigators and other professionals who are experts in re-creating accidents. They know they need to begin their investigation as quickly as possible, because the longer it takes them to start looking for evidence, the better the chances that the evidence they are looking for will have been altered or even disappeared completely.
There is one recent case that our firm handled that illustrates the need for quickly launching an investigation. In this case, our client had been blamed for an accident that took place at night, when his car hit a truck. The defense maintained that our client was to blame because the car he was driving had no headlights. When we were called to represent him, we immediately went to the salvage yard where the remnants of his car had been sent. Sure enough, we discovered that his car, indeed, had no headlights. We were not satisfied by merely seeing that the car was missing its headlights, so we decided to check the salvage yard’s security cameras. While looking at surveillance tapes, we saw that a representative of the defendant had entered the salvage yard and removed the headlights from the car that belonged to our client. Armed with this critical evidence, we were able to expose the underhanded attempt by the defense to avoid responsibility. That footage was scheduled to be taped over 24 hours later. If we had not immediately launched that investigation, that critical evidence may have been lost forever.
We cannot stress enough the importance of quickly conducting an investigation; the defense has already started, so you have to start as fast as possible. Again, the evidence tends to disappear once an accident takes place due to weather conditions and other factors. Plus, witnesses’ memories can become cloudy or they will simply decide they no longer want to get involved. Our attorneys can normally build extremely strong cases even if we are not contacted for months after an accident takes place. However, the best cases normally ensue when we are immediately called. Please do not waste any time in contacting an experienced trucking accident lawyer. We know the turmoil you are going through, but time is of the essence.
Hurdles You Will Encounter
Many of the clients we represent at our Law Office are very business-savvy and sophisticated. They could easily pick up a book or do some Internet research and learn the law. However, there is much, much more to emerging successful in a truck accident case than just having an understanding of the law. If you choose to pursue legal action on your own, you can almost guarantee that you will either get nowhere close to the compensation that you deserve, or you will leave that courtroom with nothing at all. That could be the worst mistake you’ll ever make in your life – you will be on your own in paying for your crushing medical and other expenses. You will not get a second chance.
Here are a few of the obstacles that injury victims who choose to represent themselves often fall prey to in trucking accident litigation.
Truck Drivers Who Lie
Defendants always have a reason to lie, no matter the kind of litigation in which they are involved. However, truck drivers have even more motivation than normal to lie, because their livelihood will likely depend on them doing so. If a trucker is found responsible for an accident, that is the kind of black mark that can force them into another line of work. They will not only lose their job – in all likelihood, they will not be hired by another trucking company. So, if given the choice between lying or losing their job and not being able to provide for their family, many truck drivers will try and shift the blame for the accident to the injury victim. If you cannot prove that the truck driver is indeed lying, then you will have no chance to win your case.
The trucking accident attorneys with our Law Office know how to get through the lies truck drivers tell and get to the truth. There are many times where we can gather immense amounts of evidence and expose the driver’s lies. When we produce witness statements, forensic test results, and video surveillance footage that all corroborate your account of the events that took place, the truck driver will likely lose all credibility in the eyes of a judge or jury. Many times, we can get to the truth through witness depositions. A deposition is where the attorney of the plaintiff is allowed to ask questions of the defendant’s witnesses. We have taken thousands of such depositions over the last two decades, and have developed extremely effective questioning techniques that will often compel a truck driver to tell the truth – often long before a trial is even scheduled to begin.
Policies of Large Insurance Companies
Trucking companies are required by law to have insurance on their vehicles. The value of these policies can dwarf those of typical automobile policies – often being worth 50 times as much. Therefore, an insurance carrier could lose 50 times more money in the event of a trucking accident than it would after a “normal” automobile accident. It only follows logically, then, that the carrier would devote 50 times the resources and fight 50 times harder to defend such a policy in order to avoid having to pay. It should be evident, then, that it can be far tougher to get just compensation from a truck insurance policy than it would be an everyday automobile insurance policy.
Since they have such a vested interest in protecting this kind of policy, they will do whatever they can to keep you from winning your case. They will employ high-powered insurance adjusters for just this reason. These professionals are the kind of adjuster you may have encountered after a small fender-bender. They are seasoned, ruthless, and view you as an enemy. They got to where they are by saving their company millions of dollars through denying claims just like yours. Typically, they only respect a seasoned and experienced trucking accident attorney.
This kind of adjuster will initially seem very nice to you. They’ll just want to ask you a few seemingly innocuous questions regarding the accident. But be very, very careful – their only true intent is to trick you into admitting the accident was your fault, or get you to otherwise say something that could be used against you in court. They will record the conversation, and then take whatever you say out of context in order to kill your claim. Basically, it is best that you simply refuse to talk to them. The attorneys at our Law Office make sure their clients are shielded from adjusters and their badgering, often intimidating tactics. We field those calls instead so that your words can never come back to hurt your case in court.
Large insurance carriers also employ highly trained and expert defense lawyers to protect their policies. These lawyers know insurance law like the back of their hand, and are intimately familiar with all the legal technicalities that can lead to your suit being thrown out of court should you either represent yourself or rely on an inexperienced attorney. Our Law Office lawyers have dealt with large insurance companies for 20 years, so we know the kinds of tactics they use and the kinds of tricks they like to try and play. We know how to defeat them, and defeat them handily.
Self-Insured Trucking Companies
There are some instances where a trucking accident will not include an insurance carrier. Sometimes, trucking companies choose to simply insure themselves, and they do so by setting aside some of their assets should they have to pay a plaintiff through either an out-of-court settlement or after losing a lawsuit. Should the trucking company involved in your accident be a self-employed company, then you will likely not encounter the kind of insurance adjuster mentioned above. Rather, you will be probably dealing with an officer of the trucking company. And if you thought insurance adjusters were bad, they’re nothing compared to an officer of a self-employed trucking company.
These people are normally paid through their trucking company’s profit-sharing program, so they make more money when the trucking company makes more money. If that company loses an accident lawsuit, that cuts into the profits, obviously. It follows, then, that the company officer would lose money as well. So this person will be extremely highly motivated to deny your claim. That officer will be much more concerned with his or her financial well being than yours, so he or she will be personally motivated to make sure you don’t get a dime.
Even though insurance adjusters can be intimidating and harassing, at least they are licensed, and as a requirement of that license, they are required to follow a code of ethics. Officers with self-insured trucking companies are under no such obligation, so their behavior is not governed. Clients often turn to us for help after suffering the harassment of these people. Not only are they known for employing harassing tactics to try and bully injury victims, but many of them also are not above altering evidence or employing other unethical schemes to defeat your case. If you need relief from these unethical actions, please call the trucking accident lawyers at our Law Office. We will put a stop to that nonsense immediately.
How Our Law Office can Help You
There are many things that a seasoned and skilled trucking accident attorney can do to help you obtain the just restitution you deserve for the injury you have suffered. One of the things we do immediately is to make sure that our clients get the medical assistance they need. Even if you do not have insurance, or you are under-insured, we can help you find the necessary medical care. We have excellent relationships with several medical professionals and we can often get you the help you need at no cost to you. These medical practitioners will do this because they know our track record for success, and thus know they will most likely be reimbursed for the treatment they provide to you.
The next thing we do, as stated above, is quickly launching a detailed investigation in order to uncover the evidence you need to prove your case. Not only that, but we also take care of our clients’ cases every step of the way, and keep them informed as well. We take the litigation off of your plate so you can focus on recovering from the injury or injuries you incurred in the accident, and get your life back on track as soon as possible.
Here are just some of the services we offer our clients in every trucking accident case we take:
Launch an investigation into the cause of the accident
Collect the vital evidence you need to satisfy your burden of proof
Put our reputation for winning cases to work for you by compelling defendants into offering a fair settlement offer
Develop a rock-solid trial strategy
Put our knowledge of court procedures to use in order to ensure your case is not dismissed by a judge
Field all calls from insurance adjusters so you are not exposed to their intimidating, badgering and harassing tactics
Expose the lies truck drivers will tell in an attempt to save their job by shifting blame to you
Shield you from the oftentimes unethical methods used by officers of self-insured trucking companies to defeat your case.
Again, these are just a few ways that the trucking accident lawyers with our Law Office help our clients. We want to take all the stress involved with litigation off of your plate so you can focus on getting well and getting back to a normal life. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you or get a free and confidential consultation concerning the specific circumstances surrounding your case, please call us as soon as possible. We are on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we will gladly answer any questions you may have.
Our Law Office Explains Why You Need Truck Accident Lawyers To Help You With Your 18-Wheeler Accident
Everywhere motorists look there are massive 18 wheelers hauling freight and construction materials to destinations all over the American South, and with all this big rig traffic, it is a statistical inevitability that there will be commercial vehicles involved in major accidents in which there will be serious injuries, heavy property damage, and fatalities. It is only a matter of when and a matter of who will be involved in the truck wreck.
If you or a family member has been injured or if a loved one has been killed in a tractor-trailer mishap, our truck accident law firm can help you recover compensation for your injuries and losses. We have litigated and won hundreds of 18 wheeler cases and we’ve recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. We understand the physical pain and emotional damage you are going through, and we are also quite sensitive to the fact that your struggles have only just begun. Attempting to recover adequate and fair compensation can cause even more worry and frustration, and we’d like to ease your stress by helping you to better know the legal and other options you have at your disposal, and we’d as well like to inform you of the likely obstacles you will face as you attempt to seek justice and fair compensation.
Who is to Blame?
If you would like to recover compensation for the injuries and losses you have endured after an accident with a big rig, you must first pinpoint who is responsible for your mishap. In most tractor-trailer accidents, there may numerous parties who share liability for your accident. Texas law abides by the legal principle known as respondeat superior. Respondeat superior simply means that employers are responsible for the actions or inaction of their employees while they are on the job. In the case of a tractor-trailer mishap, multiple parties can share liability for the accident in question.
In an 18 wheeler accident personal injury or wrongful death legal action, the truck driver, the trucking company, the route planners, the freight loaders, truck and truck parts designers and manufacturers among other parties all or a combination of these can be held responsible for a big rig accident. You need the help of a skilled and experienced truck accident law firm to represent you. Our attorneys have over twenty years of experience in investigating 18 wheeler accidents and we know how to find every party who may have had a hand in the cause of your accident. When a truck driver is involved in a big rig mishap, our lawyers know how to determine if it is the truck driver’s negligence or if it is a mechanical failure that caused the wreck. In certain cases, the freight was not fastened properly or the brakes were poorly maintained, and this could cause the trailer to jackknife. Determining blame in an 18 wheeler mishap is a complex and intricate process, and our trucking accident law firm can ensure that all negligent parties are held responsible for your accident and that you are compensated accordingly.
It is absolutely legal for you to represent yourself in a court of law when pursuing a claim against a negligent truck driver, trucking company or its insurance carrier, but choosing to self represent is seldom a wise choice. Lawsuits to recover compensation for a tractor-trailer accident can be extremely complex and challenging–even inexperienced attorneys have very little chance to be successful, and the chances of winning are incredibly small for non-lawyers. You will be facing some of the most skilled, experienced, and aggressive legal defense attorneys in the United States. These attorneys have devoted their lives to winning lawsuits for trucking companies and their insurance carriers. They know how to win. In order for you to be successful in seeking the recovery of compensation for your 18 wheeler mishap, you will need the aid of an equally skilled, experienced, and aggressive attorney, and a big rig accident law firm can help you in your time of need.
The Trucking Industry is Big Business
Federal law mandates that all trucking companies must be insured to protect themselves and the public against the inevitable accidents, injuries, property damage, and fatalities that are a daily fact of life in the trucking transportation industry. Many people believe the myth that since trucking companies must carry insurance, it is then a relatively easy matter to recover compensation for one’s injuries and losses. Nothing could be further from the truth. Trucking company insurance carriers have little to no interest in helping you receive compensation. Like all businesses, insurance carriers are out to turn a profit and to make money, and we don’t begrudge them that. Insurance policies for 18 wheelers, however, are extremely valuable and are worth much more than your standard automobile policies. Insurance carriers will do what they can to deny or minimize your claim so as to save themselves considerable sums of money. Their interest lies in their bottom line, and that means paying out as little as possible in compensation claims. The insurance adjusters will do all they can to deny your claim or evade paying its true value.
Of course, Texas law provides that a truck accident victim or the family of a loved one killed in an 18 wheeler mishap has the right to recover full and fair compensation from the trucking company, but require that the burden of proof rests squarely on the shoulders of the victim or his or her family to prove the negligence of the trucking company or other parties. That is, it is up to you to provide the substantial and irrefutable proof of the truck driver or trucking company’s negligence in a court of law. You must also prove with evidence that the sought compensation is a fair amount and is legitimate. Of course, the trucking company or its insurance carrier will contest that amount of compensation and will instead offer a much lower of recompense for your injuries and losses, if they are not trying to deny your claim outright. The best way to recover full and fair compensation is to retain a skilled and experienced trucking accident law firm whose attorneys know who to take on and win against trucking companies and their insurance carriers.
Insurance Company Legal Defense Teams
Insurance companies employ extremely skilled and specialized defense lawyers to defend their policies and company assets. They have legal specialists who are experts in manipulating judges and juries to view the case as they see it–which is in favor of their employers. In most instances, the insurance legal defense attorneys arrive to investigate the accident scene mere moments after the wreck is called in by the truck driver, and they begin to build a case against the victim before he or she has had time to even remotely consider what course of action he or she should take. They take advantage of those moments where you are seeking medical treatment and are confused by just what exactly is going on. If you delay in retaining legal counsel, your ability to investigate all available evidence is falling much further behind that of the defense attorneys.
Insurance Adjusters’ Interest Lies With Their Employers, Not With You
Trucking company insurance carrier insurance adjusters have little care in whether you recover compensation, and in fact, it is in their interest that you not recover anything for your injuries and losses. These insurance adjusters are the best in their field and they earn high incomes because of it. They got to where they are by saving their employer significant amounts of money in protecting company assets by denying compensation claims. These adjusters will befriend you and attempt to get you to believe they are your average claims adjuster by saying that they desire to help you and that they will get you full compensation for the injuries sustained in the 18 wheeler accident. The difference between these adjusters and your typical automobile adjusters is this: Car insurance companies need to keep your business, so these adjusters are trying to save money for their employer. Adjusters will try to get you to contradict your statements in regard to how the big rig accident happened, and then they will use your own words against you in a court of law to deny or minimize your claim. In other instances, adjusters will coerce victims into signing away their legal rights by offering cash-strapped victims a woefully inadequate settlement offer in exchange for the victim promising not to sue the company at a future date.
When insurance adjusters fly in from New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles and see a victim representing himself or herself alone at the negotiating table, they know in their hearts that they are going to win one for their employer. They know that a novice will be unable to take a victory against them, which is why you need a skilled, experienced, and aggressive truck accident law firm with its own deep resources and team of attorneys ready to compel the insurance company to offer a fair and adequate settlement. Insurance carriers only respond if they fear losing even greater amounts of assets in a court-ordered compensation award.
Truck Drivers Can Be Deceitful
Even if the truck driver in question was undoubtedly at fault for the mishap that caused your injuries and losses, he or she will have little incentive to tell the truth either in negotiations or on the witness stand. Most truckers who are found liable for causing 18 wheeler accidents will likely be fired, and he or she stands little chance of finding employment in their livelihood of choice. What company is going to hire a driver with a history of causing his employer to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars? Like you, truck drivers have to provide for families and loved ones, and if they lose their jobs, they will be unable to adequately feed their families. Even honest and decent people may find themselves saying lies they otherwise would never say in order to save their livelihood.
Our Law Office once had for a client a victim who endured an injury in a mishap with a tractor-trailer, and our client found himself being accused by the truck driver for causing the accident by driving at night with his headlights turned off. During the accident scene investigation, our attorneys noticed a surveillance camera at a nearby business that was pointed directly at the accident site. After obtaining a copy of the surveillance video, our lawyers reviewed the tape and found with crystal clear clarity that our client was driving with his headlights on. We caught the trucker in a bald-faced lie. In many instances, trucking accident cases involve deception and deceit, and an experienced trucking accident law firm can properly interview and depose the truck driver in order to ask those questions that will reveal his or her lies. Our attorneys have conducted thousands of interviews and depositions, and we know how to get truck drivers to reveal the truth and recover compensation for our clients.
Self-insured Trucking Companies Are a Problem
Though federal law requires trucking companies to carry insurance, the law does not require these companies to purchase insurance through traditional carriers. Some companies opt to self insure. What this means is that these companies set aside a certain percentage of their assets to cover compensation claims that inevitably will happen as a result of doing business in the trucking industry. These companies can be very difficult to negotiate or work with. Regular insurance carriers are not only subject to federal regulation, but insurance adjusters are also compelled to abide by federal ethical codes and standards, and if an adjuster should violate these codes, he or she could lose their license or job. This is not the case with self-insured trucking companies, since their company officers are not subject to any ethical codes or standards, and as a result, these trucking company officials are not bound to act in good faith. On the contrary, these officials have a well-deserved reputation for acting in unscrupulous ways, and they are known to bully, intimidate, witness, and evidence tamper and act in a nearly criminal manner. The reason for their unethical behavior is simple. Their salaries and bonuses are tied to company profitability, and the more they approve in compensation claims, the less money they make to provide for their families and support their standard of living. They have every incentive to try to deny or minimize your rightful compensation claim in order to save what amounts to essentially their own money. If you hire our big rig accident law firm, we take all necessary measures, including legal action, to compel these self-insured trucking company officials to negotiate and act in good faith.
Beware of Self Representation
Representing yourself before these legal defense teams and skilled insurance adjusters is rarely a wise idea. As the old saying goes, any lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client. This saying is even more appropriate for 18 wheeler mishap claims where the law is more complex and more difficult to successfully negotiate than in the average passenger vehicle lawsuit.
Knowledge of the law is only a tiny portion of the necessary tools in order to be victorious in a trucking accident case. You need a skilled and experienced big rig accident law firm whose attorneys have over twenty years of experience in taking on the strategies of skilled defense lawyers. Like anything, it requires years and years of practice to obtain the necessary skills and experience to be successful in a court of law or at the negotiating table. Are you familiar with answering interrogatories? Can you prepare a demand pocket? Respond to a list of admissions? You will need to know these if you want even the slimmest chance of winning in court.
You need a truck accident law firm with a considerable record of success so that insurance carriers will negotiate with you in good faith and offer a full and fair compensation settlement then risk going to trial with one of the nation’s premier truck accident law firms and losing a large compensation award. Our attorneys have taken on and defeated every single major insurance company in the United States, and we have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. These companies and their defense attorneys have no fear of non-lawyers and novice attorneys because they know that they will defeat inexperienced parties. They do, however, fear our Law Office. When our attorneys threaten a lawsuit, these companies prepare to settle. They do not wish to face us in a court of law.
What Can You Do?
The first thing you need to do is take the actions necessary to preserve the evidence in your case. You need to hire legal representation as soon as possible so that your lawyer can begin investigating the accident before it is too late. Every second you delay, is a second where evidence is degraded or disappears, for example, accident sites get cleaned up or weather destroys subtle but crucial evidence. Our Law Office thoroughly and meticulously investigates the scene of the mishap to collect the substantial evidence necessary to prove the truck driver, trucking company, etc., negligent and responsible for your injuries and losses. We will measure skid marks to points of impact, we will review any surveillance video, we will examine police and fire department records, we will inspect the involved vehicles, in short, we will do what it takes to gather the evidence to win your case.
In one case we handled, we had two clients, one who was severely injured, and the family of another victim who was killed in the same accident with an 18 wheeler at night. The truck driver left his trailer completely lying across the road, with his trailer acting as a complete barrier to any oncoming traffic. As noted, this accident happened at night and the trailer involved did not have any lights on its side to indicate its presence, in effect, the trailer was invisible to any traveling motorist. Our client drove around a corner and smashed directly into the trailer and the top of the automobile was completely shorn off and killed the driver instantly while the passenger was severely injured. The next day our services were retained and we rushed our attorneys to the accident scene to begin our investigation, but by the time we got there, the passenger vehicle had already been towed to the junkyard. After we arrived at the salvage yard, oddly, we found that the destroyed car was missing its headlights. As with the case mentioned above, our attorneys noticed a surveillance video at the junkyard and they asked to review the video. On the tape, our lawyers found an employee of the trucking company trespassing and stealing the car’s headlamps. Later, at trial, the trucking company tried to argue our clients were at fault for driving at night without headlights installed in their car. Not only did we embarrass them and win at trial, but we also exposed criminal wrongdoing and now the trucking company will be held liable for that behavior.
It was a good thing our clients contacted us when they did. The surveillance video was set to automatically erase and begin re-recording every forty-eight hours. Had our clients delayed, chances are that this crucial evidence would have been destroyed and the chances of our clients recovering fair compensation would have been diminished. Investigating immediately is the best chance you will have of recovering the necessary evidence you need in order to receive full and fair compensation.
We Can Help
The trucking accident law firm at our Law Office has been using its deep knowledge and experience of personal injury and wrongful death law involving tractor-trailer accidents in Texas for over twenty years. If you have been harmed in a big rig mishap, we can help you recover fair and adequate compensation for your injuries and losses, and we can help you seek justice as well.
If you or a family member has been involved in an 18 wheeler accident in Texas, call us for a free consultation to discuss your legal or other alternatives.
Truck Accident Lawyer Explains Why You Should Never Trust the Insurance Company After an Accident
It’s simple advice that’s been proven time and time again. In the many cases our Law Office has seen over our twenty years or practicing law: Don’t trust the insurance company. You may have already gone through a negative experience with an insurance agent or insurance company.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve never had to deal with an insurance agent and aren’t aware of the possible pitfalls that can occur when seeking compensation for a claim. In either case, there are many instances where the interests of the insurance company often outweigh your best interests. In other words, some insurance agents might not be quite like a good neighbor. Because insurance agencies are still a for-profit business, this often means that, if an insurance agent can deny our greatly lessen your claim, they stand to save their company the most amount possible. In other words, your loss is often their gain. The Texas truck accident law firm of our Law Office provides the following story as proof that you shouldn’t automatically trust the insurance company.
When An Insurance Company Takes Advantage
As an example of the statement, “Don’t trust the insurance company,” a woman once contacted our Law Office after her husband and the father of her children was killed while changing a flat tire on the side of the road by a reckless 18-wheeler driver. Because the truck driver knew he was at fault, he contacted his company, and his company subsequently contacted their insurance company. This insurance company then quickly deployed a team of highly trained professionals, involving accident recreation specialists, defense attorneys, and top-notch insurance agents, to the field in order to pursue all possible routes towards vindicating the negligent driver. However, this team was unsuccessful at disproving the driver’s fault at the scene of the accident.
But insurance agencies, especially in the case of accidents involving 18-wheelers where large sums of money are on the line, seldom give up so easily. Employing an oft-used tactic that preys on the emotional vulnerability of those in the initial stages of the grief process, this particular insurance agency sent an agent to visit the recently bereaved woman while she was at the morgue identifying her husband’s body. Hoping to catch her during this understandably difficult time, the insurance agent was attempting to get her to agree to a settlement offer that was far less than fair. Fortunately for the woman, her brother was also there and was able to escort the offensive insurance agent away from his sister. This is a common tactic that often results in an aggrieved party agreeing to a less than fair settlement because they were not in the right emotional or mental state to make a rational decision regarding their legal rights. If you ever happen to be in the same circumstances, it’s in your best interest to contact competent legal help before agreeing to any settlement offered by an insurance agent. As a reminder, it’s best to have a healthy skepticism when it comes to what an insurance agent may be offering you, or, in other words, don’t trust the insurance company.
The saga continues. The lady who lost her husband because of a negligent truck driver simply wanted fair compensation in order to take care of herself and her three children in light of her husband’s death. Assuming that this was quite fair grounds for compensation, she agreed to later meet face-to-face with an insurance adjuster. This seemingly innocuous meeting would eventually be the undoing of any possible legal remedies she could have sought in a wrongful death lawsuit.
For starters, the insurance agent blatantly lied to her that she would only receive compensation for her husband’s lost wages if she chose to sue the insurance company. The agent was fully aware of his lie, but the woman believed he was telling the truth. The truth was that many different types of damages could be sought in such a case, including loss of future earnings, which would have likely greatly increased the amount of compensation this lady could have received. Because she believed the insurance agent honestly had her best interests at heart and was telling her the truth, she stood to lose a sizable, and justly due, amount of compensation because of her innocent and trusting nature. Since she was under the impression that this was the only way she would ever receive any type of compensation, and that this would be the only way in which she’d be able to take care of herself and her family, she was on the brink of signing the insurance agent’s prepared papers in order to agree to the settlement.
However, she still had some misgivings about the situation and asked if she could speak with a lawyer before signing the papers. Rather quickly after that moment, an attorney arrived at her door, looked over the papers, and agreed that the settlement was fair and likely all she would receive. Because of this “outside” source of knowledge, she signed the papers, agreeing to a paltry settlement that was far less than what was fair or necessary for her to able to provide for herself or her family. What she was not aware of in this particular situation was the fact that the lawyer who happened to appear at her house at the right time was in fact hired by the insurance company to do exactly what he did. In other words, the “outside” attorney was in fact “on the inside” and was going to always agree that the settlement was just and all she could hope for. Her innocence in dealing with insurance companies was taken advantage of, and she wound up losing immense amounts of possible compensation because of it.
Unfortunately, by the time the wrongful death attorneys at our Law Office had been contacted by this woman and told about her case, we were unable to assist her as she’d already signed proper documentation. By accepting a settlement, she was then legally prevented from bringing a lawsuit against the negligent driver’s insurance company. Had she contacted us at anytime prior to signing the dotted line, we would have likely been able to help her see all of her possibly legal remedies, and she would have known that she should have likely been compensated for her husband’s loss of future earnings, her own pain and suffering, and funeral expenses. She could have stood the chance to have received over a million dollars in compensation for everything she had been through. However, because of the often unscrupulous and unethical tactics of some insurance companies, and because she believed the lie that her best interests were being looked after by these insurance companies, she wound up with a settlement that included only a few years of her husband’s lost wages that eventually devolved to a measly $600 per month once her children became independents. The sad but true conclusion to this story isn’t that she lost so much, but that the insurance adjuster involved likely received a raise, a bonus, or a promotion for what they did.
Get Legal Help from our Law Office Before Dealing with an Insurance Company
Don’t let what happened in the story above happen to you. By contacting our Law Office quickly in the aftermath of a personal injury, auto accident, or wrongful death case, you can be sure that will work assiduously to protect you from the sometimes unethical treatment and tactics used by some insurance companies. Especially as the stakes of an accident case escalate, such as in the event of wrongful death, it’s vitally important to have experienced legal help on your side to ensure that insurance companies are held liable for the policies they provide to their clients and for their clients’ negligence. Our Law Office has two decades’ worth of experience in personal injury and wrongful death law, as well as a proven track record of success in seeking full and fair compensation for our clients. Call us for a free consultation, especially if you think you might be in over your head dealing with an insurance company. We will listen to the details of your case and inform you as to your possible legal remedies for compensation. Above all, remember one thing: Don’t trust the insurance company. They may not always be on your side, but the Texas personal injury and wrongful death law firm of our Law Office is.