Frequently Asked Questions:
Answers from Trucking Accident Lawyers
1. Is it important to engage an attorney to represent you when you’ve been injured in an accident involving a large truck or tractor trailer?
Yes! If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident involving a large truck and the accident wasn’t your fault, you should consult a trucking accident attorney right away. The same is true if you have a relative who was killed in a truck accident.
You need someone on your side from the very beginning to protect your rights, to investigate and preserve critical evidence, to help you navigate the medical world as you undergo what may be a slow recovery, and to give you practical advice about how to deal with everyday life in the face of serious injuries. Learn more about tractor trailer accident investigation team.
It is not uncommon for trucking company representatives to suggest you don’t need an attorney. They say they will be happy to work with you to resolve your case fairly so long as you don’t hire a lawyer. They may even give you advice about what doctors to see and what medical care to avoid because it is expensive. However, while they are stringing you along, the statute of limitations on your case is running, evidence is disappearing, and you’re not getting appropriate medical care. Remember, it’s not the trucking company or its insurance company’s job to pay you what your case is worth. Their job is to pay you the smallest amount they can get away with. This way their company will show a larger profit at year’s end. Learn more about working with our truck accident lawyers.
2. Does it matter which attorney I hire for my truck accident case?
Your choice of a lawyer in any case may be crucial to its success. The issue is even more important in commercial truck accident case because this field of law is unique in many ways. Special federal and state laws and safety regulations apply to the operation of heavy commercial motor vehicles. These laws and regulations are comprehensive and extensive. They cover a wide range of topics including requirements for thorough truck inspections and restrictions on the numbers of hours a truck driver may drive before he must take a break. You need a trucking accident attorney who is familiar with these laws and regulations because they can play a decisive role in the resolution of your case.
Just as important, you should have a truck accident lawyer who understands how trucks and tractor trailers operate, who appreciates their inherent limitations, and who recognizes the predictable causes of commercial truck accidents. The lawyers at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen understand. Tractor trailers and other large trucks do not handle or maneuver like ordinary automobiles. It takes longer for them to stop. Blind spots sometimes prevent truck drivers from seeing vehicles driving beside them. If a truck driver takes a curve too fast, his truck’s tires can lose traction with the road, and the truck may roll over. With long years of experience handling commercial truck accident cases, Allen and Allen attorneys know how to explore why and how your accident happened. Working with trucking industry experts and accident reconstructionists, our lawyers can evaluate the facts of your case and advise you how to proceed.
3. I can’t afford to hire a lawyer or pay the costs of a lawsuit. What will Allen, Allen, Allen and Allen charge?
Your first consultation with the Allen Law Firm is free and without obligation. If you engage our firm to represent you, we will handle your case on a contingent fee basis. This means our legal fee is based on a percentage of the monetary recovery we make on your behalf. In the event we make no recovery or do not win your case, you will owe the firm no legal fee. At our first meeting, we will explain our fees in detail.
4. How long can I wait before hiring a trucking accident attorney?
It is usually wise to hire a trucking accident attorney as soon as possible after you’ve been seriously injured in an accident involving a tractor trailer or commercial vehicle. You need an attorney, who will investigate your case promptly, interview witnesses before their memories fade, preserve crucial evidence before it disappears, and ensure you are getting appropriate medical care from the beginning.
Most trucking companies and their insurers employ accident investigation teams that go to accident scenes immediately, sometimes within minutes or hours of an accident. Their intention is to locate and secure evidence that supports their truck driver’s version of how the accident happened, not yours. The faster you engage atruck accident attorney to represent your interests, the more level the playing field will be.
5. Why shouldn’t I settle my case directly with the trucking company? Won’t I save money that way?
Some accident victims think they are better off not having an attorney represent them because they can save money on legal fees if they settle their cases directly with the truck company or its insurer. In a case involving serious injuries and substantial wage loss, this is not a smart thing to do. You are pitting your negotiating skills against those of a claims representative or corporate attorney who negotiates settlements in personal injury cases every day – and makes his living doing so.
The average person is not trained to properly evaluate his own personal injury case. He has no experience comparing the value of his case with actual jury verdicts or settlements in other, similar trucking accident cases. He may not understand the value of his case depends, in part, on where his case is likely to be tried. Juries in some venues are more conservative in their evaluation of personal injury cases than juries in other, more liberal jurisdictions.
The trucking accident attorneys at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen have the training and background it takes to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of your case, to properly evaluate it, and to negotiate effectively with trucking companies and their insurers. We can add value to your case. Find out more about working with our truck accident lawyers.
6. Why is early accident investigation so important in a trucking accident case?
Early investigation can be key in an accident involving one or more large trucks and severe injuries. Accident scenes change dramatically over the minutes, hours, and days after an accident. Accident debris is swept away. Tire impressions on the roadway, highway shoulder or adjacent grass fade. Skid, scuff, and yaw marks disappear over time or are washed away by rain and snow. Vehicles involved in the crash may be repaired, sold for scrap or destroyed. In addition, later roadway construction may alter the highway or traffic pattern in significant ways.
The more quickly an investigator representing your best interests can get to the scene of a crash, the more likely he can gather the evidence needed to tell the story of your accident and the more easily your attorney will be able to explain how it happened to a jury. Remember that the truck company will have its own investigators on the scene immediately after the accident. You want your investigator there too.
7. Are there any special state and federal laws or regulations that apply only to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies and how can they affect my case?
Yes. There are special state and federal laws and regulations that apply specifically to commercial truck drivers and the trucking companies that employ them. Sometimes these laws and regulations hold the key to a successful outcome in your case. This means your attorney must be familiar with the rules in order to handle your case properly.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) comprise the single most important set of rules which apply to the operation of commercial trucks such as tractor trailers, 18 wheelers, tankers, hazardous materials carriers, and logging trucks. The regulations are designed to promote truck safety, to prevent accidents, and to benefit the general public.
Among their many requirements, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations mandate periodic truck inspections and maintenance, sets specific driver qualifications, and limits the number of hours a truck driver can drive before taking a mandatory break. These exhaustive rules govern the operation of large trucks and control the manner in which a truck’s cargo is loaded and secured, the use of emergency warning signals like flares, and the mandatory use of certain equipment. If a truck driver and/or his trucking company fail to comply with one or more of the federal regulations and the violation(s) contributed to cause your accident, your truck accident attorney may be able to use the violations as a basis for your lawsuit against the driver and trucking company.
8. What is the deadline for filing my lawsuit?
The statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits differs from state to state. In some states like Tennessee, it is only 1 year. In Virginia, if you are 18 years of age or older, the general rule is that you have two years after the date of your accident to file suit for your personal injuries, wage loss, pain and suffering. If you were under 18 years of age when your accident happened, you have until your 20th birthday to file suit. In death cases, the executor or administrator of a decedent’s estate generally has 2 years within which to file suit. But these are only the general rules, and there may be other laws applicable in your case depending on the law in the state where the accident occured.
Sometimes, other deadlines and statutes of limitations may apply depending on the type of case and the identity of the defendant. For example, there may be special notice provisions/deadlines and lawsuit filing deadlines in cases brought against a state, municipality or county. The bottom line is that it is always wise to consult an attorney about the statute of limitations and other deadlines in your particular case. Remember, once the statute of limitations runs or you miss a mandatory notice deadline, you will be forever barred from making a monetary recovery.
You can put your case at risk in other ways when you wait until shortly before the statute of limitations runs to hire an attorney. Investigation may be necessary to correctly identify the defendant(s) in your case, and this can take time. Witnesses move away or die; important evidence disappears. Never wait until the last minute to hire a lawyer.
9. Should I give an oral or recorded statement to the trucking company or its insurance company representative?
Never give an oral or written statement about your accident to a trucking company representative, its insurer, or its lawyer until after you have talked to an experienced attorney.
Don’t forget that the trucking company, its driver, and its insurer are not on your side. If they pay you anything, it is their job to pay as little as possible.
It is common for truck company representatives to ask questions that may confuse you or lead you to make unintended misstatements about your case and how your accident happened. These statements can be used against you when your case is tried. Be polite when a representative calls, but be firm. Give no recorded or oral statements about your case without your lawyer’s advice.
10. What types of truck accident cases do Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen attorneys handle?
Our truck accident lawyers handle accident cases involving tractor trailers, large trucks, buses, rescue squad vehicles, construction vehicles, dump trucks, box trucks, school buses, logging trucks, tanker trucks, 18 wheelers and hazardous materials trucks. Common causes of cases we have handled are driver fatigue, falling cargo, shifting cargo, faulty inspection, improper truck maintenance, driver intoxication and driver inattention. Our trucking accident lawyers are experienced in handling truck accident cases involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death. Learn more about the types of trucking accidents our attorneys have handled.
If a trucking company representative, attorney or insurance company has requested your oral or written statement or has asked you to settle without attorney representation, call the tractor trailer accident attorneys of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen at 866-388-6408 for a free consultation.