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.
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 of 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 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.