1. What if I've been hurt in a trucking accident?
If you have been hurt in a trucking accident, you should first take care of any injuries to yourself and other occupants of your vehicle. Call 911 which will alert the police and, if necessary, will call for an ambulance. If your injuries are less severe, you should still seek medical attention following the accident, primarily for your own health, and also to document your injuries.
Secondly, you should document the evidence at the scene. Copy the truck driver’s identification, employer, and insurance details, take photos or video of the accident scene, and get contact details for witnesses.
Finally, do NOT admit fault.
2. Do I really need a lawyer for a trucking accident?
Trucking accidents are complex and can involve large companies with the resources to fight claims. A good lawyer can even the playing field and help to get a victim the compensation they deserve. A trucking accident claim is complicated by the many parties involved, such as the driver, the trucking company, a commercial insurance company, and cargo handlers. Trucking accidents also typically involve more severe injuries and greater vehicle damage. Trucking companies and insurance companies have the resources and the motivation to fight these expensive claims leaving you as outmatched as you were when your vehicle was struck by the truck.
3. What should I do if someone from the trucking company calls me before I’ve picked a lawyer?
You should refuse to discuss the accident with any representative of the trucking company, the driver, the insurance company, or any other associated person, and contact your lawyer. You should never admit fault or liability at, or after, the time of the accident without legal advice. If you are ever unsure about what to say, say nothing, and contact your lawyer.
4. What are common trucking accident injuries?
Injuries in a truck accident can be catastrophic because a truck is simply much bigger and heavier than a passenger car, and is often loaded with heavy or dangerous cargo. Also, truck accidents tend to happen at higher speeds because trucks more often use open roads with higher speed limits.
Common trucking accident injuries may include back and neck injuries, spinal cord injuries and paralysis, head and brain injuries, whiplash, broken bones, burns, lacerations, internal injuries and bleeding, and even death. Psychological damage is also common.
5. Who can be sued in a trucking accident case?
Trucking accidents involve a web of different people, which can make it difficult to know who to sue. In most cases, the victim will sue the trucking company, which will be insured under a commercial insurance policy. In certain cases, the victim may sue the truck driver, the loading or shipping company that loaded the cargo, the truck manufacturer, or the truck maintenance crew.
6. How much does it cost for an attorney in a trucking accident case?
The amount of legal fees will depend on the facts of your case and on the law firm that you choose, but if your claim is successful, your legal fees will be covered by your compensation. Most law firms offer a contingency fee arrangement (which calculates your fees as a percentage of your compensation.)
Morris James attorneys provide a free initial consultation to openly discuss your case, your options, and our fees so that you can choose the right lawyer for you.
7. What kind of evidence will I need in a trucking accident case?
There are specific types of evidence in a trucking accident case that may prove critical to the successful outcome of the case. An experienced trucking accident lawyer will help you obtain some or all of the following:
- Police accident report
- Certified truck inspection report
- Driver logbooks
- Truck maintenance logs
- Truck black box or other electronic monitoring data
- Witness statements
- Accident scene photos or videos
- Traffic camera videos
- Tire or gouge marks in the road
Your lawyer will also obtain specific information about the driver, the maintenance of the truck, the maintenance crew, the compliance record of the trucking company, the shipping company, and any other evidence relevant to your individual case.
8. How is fault determined in a trucking accident case?
Determining fault in a trucking accident case can be complicated. Both federal and state laws apply to trucking accidents, some of which specifically impact liability. Often more than one person can be liable in a trucking accident. A truck will probably be driven, owned, insured, loaded, and maintained by different people or companies, all of whom could have contributed to the accident, and all of whom have agreements with each other which affect their legal rights and responsibilities. Your attorney will analyze the actions and relationships of the relevant people in your case to determine what caused the accident and who should be held responsible under the law.
9. Is there a deadline for filing a trucking accident lawsuit?
Yes. In Delaware, the statute of limitations for property damage and personal injury claims is 2 years, which starts to run on the date of the accident. The limitations period for a wrongful death claim is also 2 years. In certain cases, the victim may have a contractual claim against one or more insurance companies for breach of the insurance policy, which has a longer limitations period of 3 years from the date of the breach. These time limits are short and you should not delay in taking action after your trucking accident.