In this article you’ll find 5 things you need to know about handling commercial truck accidents that result in personal injury or wrongful death.
1) Document the scene.
If you’re faced with an accident, speak only to the police to file a report. Do not speak to the trucker, company representatives, or insurance representatives until you have a lawyer. At the scene, get photos, contact information, and all other important details you have access to and contact a lawyer. It’s critical to do this right away. Waiting can result in lost, damaged, or destroyed evidence, and unreliable memories of the incident instead of hard facts.
For example, without a specific legal document it’s possible for trucking companies to intentionally destroy evidence after the accident without breaking the law. Have your lawyer inspect the damage on all vehicles involved in the accident so he or she has all the facts readily available to mount a strong case on your behalf.
2) Get a good lawyer.
Law firms are unique and have different areas of expertise. Some are more experienced at handling accidents and holding commercial trucking companies responsible. A good law firm for your case will be one that has tried similar cases in the past, and has the resources to access the best experts, technology, and analysis to make your case.
Personally, you should feel that the attorney is attentive to your needs, professional, and knowledgeable. If you do not feel that the lawyer is authentically concerned for the well being of you and your family, don’t be afraid to find someone else. This individual will be helping you make serious decisions that impact your life. Take the time to find someone who has the expertise and the empathy you need.
3) Let your attorney do the talking.
Do not sign any documents or speak to any insurance or trucking company representative without first consulting a lawyer. Federal and state governments oversee the trucking industry. Attorneys with experience in this field have a working knowledge of how to navigate these regulations to hold truck drivers and companies responsible for a semitrailer crash.
In most accidents, the insurance company pays the money won in a settlement. Because of that, the insurance company may try to have you sign away your rights to a higher settlement before you hire a lawyer. This can result in you getting a settlement that is much less than the amount of money you deserve.
Refer all calls and questions related to the accident to your lawyer, especially those from an insurance company. Do not say anything or sign anything without a lawyer present. Even if the conversation seems casual, anything you say or do can be used in your legal case to reduce the amount of your settlement. Your lawyer is your advocate and has experience dealing with the insurance companies. Let them be your advocate.
4) Know who is responsible.
In an accident with a commercial trucking rig where the truck driver is at fault, you may be entitled to sue several individuals and companies. For example, if a commercial truck driver has a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or greater and causes an accident, both the driver and the company who hired him or her are responsible for damages and injuries suffered by you and your passengers.
A good lawyer will identify all parties who are legally responsible for the accident. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Trucking rig owner
- Tractor-trailer cab / trailer owner
- Freight owner
- Cab, trailer or vehicle parts manufacturer
Proving fault in a court of law requires evidence. Your attorney will interview people who witnessed and were directly involved in the accident. They will collect law enforcement records of the incident and relevant corporate documents. They will review the crash scene and damage to all vehicles involved – even recruiting expert testimony to build and support your case.
Even in the event that a commercial driver is only partially to blame for the accident, you may have the right to sue the driver, trucking company, and connected entities to cover medical expenses, lost income, damages, and more. Actions that can put a commercial driver at fault include:
- Driving aggressively
- Driving too fast
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving without adequate rest
- Exceeding the legal limit of driving hours
- Failing to stop or slow to avoid a likely accident
- Losing control of any part of the vehicle
- Not checking blind spots
- Not yielding where appropriate
5) Understand your rights.
In a collision with a commercial truck, you may be entitled to damages if you are a:
- Driver in a personal vehicle affected by the crash
- Passenger in a personal vehicle affected by the crash
- Passenger in a commercial truck affected by the crash
- Passenger in a commercial truck which caused the crash
- Pedestrian or cyclist affected by the crash
- Family member of a driver or passenger killed by the crash
In the event of personal medical needs and property loss due to the accident, filing a suit against the individual(s) and company(s) responsible is the path to cover your related expenses. This can also cover other damages (lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) due to the collision.
If a family member was killed in a collision with a semitrailer you may have the right to sue for compensation and get justice for your loved one. This is possible if the evidence supports a wrongful death claim. Speak with an attorney about what options are available if your family has suffered the loss of a loved one in a commercial truck accident.
If you are involved in a collision with a commercial trailer, hire an experienced attorney who can advocate for your rights and ensure that you receive the justice you deserve.
It’s no secret that traffic accidents can burn a big hole in your pocket. Not only that, but traffic accidents can also be devastating in a more serious way, with an average of 33,000 fatalities a year. This only further increases the economic costs of traffic accidents, considering the whopping life insurance cost as well as the money needed for simple quality-of-life for those injured.
Now, to be sure, private insurance companies can cover a significant amount of this cost. However, an insurance company is still a business, and will still try to keep their cost down as much as possible. There is no legal duty imposed on insurance companies to settle reasonably in any particular case. To ensure accident victims do not get swindled out of the money they need after an accident, it is highly recommended that such victims always retain an attorney for such a circumstance.
There are a variety of things you’ll want to consider when hiring such an attorney. This goes for those making a claim against their own insurance company or even against another driver involved in the accident, particularly one at fault according to police reports.
- It is essential to remember that an insurance company will always try to make the smallest pay-out possible. These payouts are considered losses for the business, and, in order to turn a profit, the insurance company will attempt to give you the least amount of money they can.
- The last thing an insurance company wants to be involved in the case is a lawyer. To insurance companies, attorneys mean more money out of their pocket.
- You need to consider any other drivers involved in the accident. Should the other driver prove to be at fault for the accident, the claim will need to be filed against his insurance provider rather than your own. Again, this provider will act vastly similar to yours, looking to minimize their losses, and your profits, as much as possible.
- You need to know how much your claim is actually worth. Due to non-economic damages and future losses, this can be incredibly difficult for most victims. However, it is important to have a suitable estimate in your mind in such a circumstance.
Considering these factors, the most logical thing would seem to be to have an experienced legal negotiator on your side when going up against an insurance company, especially if the stakes are high. Perhaps it may not be worth the check if the damage claims are on the lower end of the spectrum. However, if there is serious damage or injury that is going to require a serious payout, the best thing you can do for yourself is hire an experienced Houston auto accident attorney to make sure you get what you need.
It is dangerous to drive while you are sleepy. In fact, even if you have only lost one or two hours of sleep, you are still more likely to get into a car accident. A study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed exactly how dangerous it is to drive if you are tired.
Sleep experts recommend that people get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. Eighteen percent of adults get fewer than seven hours of sleep per night. Two percent of adults get fewer than four hours of sleep per night. Many adults are sleep deprived, and this can lead to an accident.
- People who get fewer than seven hours of sleep are 1.3 times more likely to be involved in an accident
- People who got five or six hours of sleep per night are 1.9 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
- People who got four or five hours of sleep per night are 4.3 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
- People who got less than four hours of sleep per night are 11.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
The results did not take into account the other factors that lead to an accident. This includes things like drug use and alcohol use. However, research clearly proves that it is dangerous to drive while you are sleepy.
Why it is Dangerous to Drive While Tired?
The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration showed that drivers who are tired are twice as likely to get involved in an accident. Drivers who do not get enough sleep not only put themselves endanger, but they also put others on the road in danger. Driving with little sleep impairs your alertness and slows down your reaction time. It can also impair judgment and take your attention off of the road.
Signs of Drowsy Driving
Your safety should be your top priority when you are hitting the road. Some of the people who drive may be drowsy. Erratic driving, which may include repeatedly slowing down and speeding up, is one of the signs of drowsy driving. Overcorrecting errors, drifting in and out of lanes and losing control of the vehicle are other signs of drowsy driving.
Car Accidents Caused By Drowsy Drivers
Drowsy driving accidents can occur on highways and rural roads. They can also occur at any time of the day. However, they are most likely to occur between the hours of 12 a.m. and 6 p.m. Many drowsy drivers leave the road without even braking.
Call an Experienced Attorney
If you or one of your loved ones have been hurt in an accident caused by a drowsy driver, then you will need to contact an attorney. A lawyer will protect your rights and help you get compensated.
Insurance companies work on the principle of prepaid payments that one deposits so that they can utilize claims in the future. The claims are written when one needs to get their capital back from the insurance company due to various reasons. These can be approached in two ways, “in good faith” and “bad faith”. As per the contract, every company is supposed to approach claims in good faith, and declining or settling for a low rate is when the practice is going by the bad faith principle.
In Houston, once an individual has been exposed to this treatment, the best solution might be to take advantage of a lawyer. More specifically, a personal injury attorney. If one’s claim has been handled with bad faith, the lawyer can sue the company for additional damages. Although this is not easy to prove, it can be done. Additionally, by proving that there was some type of bad faith, the plaintiff could recover more than the initial claim costs as all the expenses associated with the bad faith lawsuit will be added.
Since a lawsuit is a final leverage every customer possesses, insurance companies may try to undermine the process. This is most often done by implying how the customer was lying in their original claim, thus the company did not act in bad faith. Sometimes, if the evidence is condemning and the verdict will be in favor of the plaintiff, the company might even admit to nothing but an innocent error.
If Houston residents undergo this situation, one has to communicate with their insurance provider to acknowledge the bad faith that is taking place. If a direct approach based on communication does not solve anything, one should reach out to an attorney who can represent them. Then, a lawsuit can be filled to collect what is owed.
If you have been hit by a drunk driver, your first instinct may be to sue them. You may be hurt and your vehicle damaged. Before you do, however, consider the easier and sometimes more effective route of an insurance claim. Know your legal options at this difficult time.
Filing a Lawsuit
A lawsuit is one of those options but if you live in a no-fault state, it may be a difficult road to compensation. Personal lawsuits can be difficult to prove in a state that does not assign blame for the accident, so even if the other person was drunk-you will have to prove your case.
Meet with the Other Insurance Company
Another option for you is talking to the other person’s insurance company. If you let the company know that you are going to file a third-party lawsuit for all of your medical and repair bills, you will get their attention. You may be surprised at the generosity of their offer for settlement. Every driver is required to carry a standard of insurance for this very reason, so why not at least talk to their insurance company. The company’s first interest is limiting a payout but a settlement means they don’t have to go to court, which will save money for everyone.
DUI Convictions Means a Strong Case for You
DUI convictions are another thing for you to consider. If the other driver was charged with a DUI-his insurance company is going to do everything possible from keeping that case from going to court. An insurance company with a convicted drunk client does not want to face a jury. Juries are well known for placing high settlements against drunk drivers. If this is the case you are in, it will definitely be worth your while to meet with the insurance company before filing suit.
There are more than 10 states that operate under the “No-fault” premise. If your accident took place in one of these states-your options are more limited. You will need to file with your own Personal Injury Protection to assist you with your medical bills and repairs. However, even in these states, there is a cap on medical coverage and you can seek damages from the other person when you have reached this maximum.
Consider the Options
Any accident is difficult but being hit by a drunk driver is especially traumatic. Before you make any quick decisions, consider your legal options with a local accident attorney in Houston to help you find the best way to ease your losses. You don’t have to pay if a drunk driver caused your accident. The law does protect those who follow the law.
If you follow certain steps when filing an auto insurance claim, you can make the process easier, and have issues resolved more quickly.
Determine The Cost of Damages
If your main concern is raising auto insurance rates, carefully consider how much damage has been done in the accident, regardless of who is at fault. If it’s a small amount of damage or an amount that each driver can cover, then it might not even be necessary to contact your auto insurance company.
If the accident is deemed to be the other driver’s fault and/or the other driver is the one who gets a ticket because of the accident, then his or her insurance should have to cover the damages to your vehicle and the incident should not affect your car insurance rates. You will still need to inform your insurance company of the accident and they will contact the other driver, just as the other driver’s insurance company will likely contact you.
If you were at fault or you received the ticket, then your insurance will be expected to cover any damage to the other driver’s vehicle. If you can pay the costs of repair out of pocket, then there’s also no need to contact your insurance company.
When Your Insurance is Involved
If you’re not sure whether or not to file a claim, give us a call to discuss your case. Even simple phone inquiries to your insurance company can be added to your record and may affect your rates in the future. Decide first if you want to use your insurance or pay out of pocket, and whether the cost of paying out of pocket is worth keeping your insurance rate down.
Filing a Claim
Here are a few things to get you started if you decide to file a claim.
Witness’ Names & Contact Info
Get as many witnesses’ names and phone numbers as possible that you can supply to your insurance company to help show that the accident wasn’t your fault.
Be sure to record things including the time, place, date, photos of the scene, a copy of the police report, and names, addresses, and insurance information of everyone involved.
Other Important Tips
- Do not admit or debate fault
- Anything you say can be used as evidence
- Make a note of any passengers of all involved vehicles
- Take photos of all vehicles involved and the location
If your claim is rejected
- Make sure the insurance company explains the reasons in writing
- You can always appeal the decision
Being involved in a car accident is a very stressful experience. Having the right legal counsel on your case can make all the difference. Give us a call or send us an email to discuss the details of your case right away.
The content of this article is provided for informational purposes only.
In Texas, car accidents are very common and if you’re involved in an accident, then you should know when you need to hire a personal injury attorney. Some accidents require an attorney, while others don’t. Here is when a personal injury attorney is worth it.
There’s no need to hire an attorney if you only suffered scrapes and minor bruises, but if you suffered serious injures that may cause long lasting repercussions, then you will want to considering hiring a personal injury attorney. If a driver caused an accident and they were not insured or under-insured, then consider hiring an attorney. Also, if you are facing pressure from the claims adjuster to settle quickly, then consider contacting an experienced attorney. This is because you might not be getting a fair settlement.
Remember, when an insurance company under compensates an injured person, then they make a profit. This is why insurance companies know what to do in order to minimize settlement claims in cases that involved bodily injury. Unfortunately, this doesn’t give you the upper-hand, at least if you fight them on your own. Hiring an attorney will ensure you get what you deserve from the insurance companies.
Different states have different personal injury laws, which means it’s important to hire one that is familiar with Texas’ personal injury laws. They will be able to apply Texas’s laws to your state.
Texas is home to many personal injury lawyers, which means finding the right one can take time. Most lawyers charge a contingency fee, which usually works out to be about a third to 40 percent of the settlement amount. There are be other fees you could be responsible for, such as court fees, and this is why you need to find out what fees you will be responsible for paying and how much the attorney charges. Nobody wants to be involved in an accident, but the good news is there are personal injury attorneys in Texas when you do need them.
Statistics show that more than 75,000 accidents happen each year that involve autos and pedestrians. Among these accidents, more than 5000 pedestrians die from them. What this means is that every 7 minutes someone is seriously harmed in an auto-pedestrian accident.
The type of injuries that happen in these accidents can be quite serious. This is because the size of the vehicle or truck or that hits the person is substantially larger than the person. The injuries can entail nerve damage, brain and spinal injuries, as well as paralysis and multiple bone fractures.
The seriousness of the injuries entail in depth medical treatment and this can be very expensive. This can have an impact on the families of the victims as well. The time that is spent in medical appointments and having procedures done can impact the person’s ability to earn money. Loss time at work and losing the capacity to earn money are serious outcomes of pedestrian-vehicle accidents.
Consulting with an attorney can expose some of the options that may be available to help compensate victims and their families. A legal professional will also be able to determine the carelessness or negligence of the driver. Things to be considered is whether the driver was adhering to legal speed limits, obeying traffic signs, and whether the right of way was yielded to the pedestrians.
If the driver was found to be negligent, they may be held responsible for compensating the victims. Such compensation can entail recompensing the individual for medical costs and ongoing medical costs. This compensation can also include pain and suffering. The individual and their family should be aware of what legal recourse they have if an injury has happened to a loved one.
Pedestrian-vehicle accidents can be quite devastating. Having someone on your side to defend your rights and needs is an important aspect of recovery.