Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
- What are the common causes of truck accident?
- Is my case any different if I am injured, or a family member is killed, by a truck as opposed to any other vehicle driver?
- Are trucking companies regulated by the Federal Government?
- Does Federal law limit the hours that a trucker can operate his truck?
- Are trucks required by Federal law to carry insurance?
- Who can sue in a truck accident injury or death case?
- Who can be sued in a truck accident case?
- Is investigation important in a truck accident case?
- Are expert witnesses necessary to prove fault in a truck accident case?
- What damages can I, or the survivors of a loved one, recover in a truck accident injury or death case?
- How soon must I bring an injury or death case based on a truck accident?
- Do I need an attorney to litigate my truck accident case?
In a truck accident there may be a multitude of reasons that the truck accident occurred in the first place. Some of the most common causes of trucking accidents include:
- Lack of Training on the part of the truck driver;
- Overloaded Trucks;
- Oversized Trucks;
- Poorly maintained brakes on the trucks;
- Driving in conditions of poor visibility due to smoke fog,snow or rain;
- Truck driver inexperience;
- Fatigued, sleepy or tired driver driving too long and too many hours without rest;
- Speeding over the limit or driving at speeds or beyond the road and weather conditions;
- Running off the road;
- Failure to yield the right of way;
- Aggressive driving behavior;
- Truck drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol while driving;
- Driving the truck in bad weather conditions;
- Dangerous or reckless truck driver with a long record of wrecks and accidents;
- Unsafe safety systems, reflectors, lights and other warning devices and
- Failure of truck to have installed an underide protection underguard.
After being injured in a truck accident, you are thrown into an “adversarial legal system”. In other words, you are not negotiating on level ground when dealing with a trucking company after an accident. Most trucking companies are highly skilled at auto truck accident investigation and claims practice. These adjusters represent the truck company,not you. Do not give them any type statements or sign any releases for medical records or employment records. Often the medical release allows the adjuster to talk to the doctors without you or anyone being present.
Truck companies have accident investigators that are on call and dispatched to the scene of the crash as soon as the trucking company learns there has been an accident. Further while the families of the accident victims are tending to medical and hospital care and funeral arraignments, the trucking company is investigating the accident and setting up their defense.This is why the victims big truck accidents need to also have a team of investigators on their side, fighting for their rights.
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Yes. Although the same laws of negligence will apply, there are special Vehicle Code sections which apply only to commercial truck drivers and trucking companies and there are special licensing and training requirements of truck drivers which generally make truck accidents harder to defend and easier to win for plaintiffs.
Yes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration establishes rules and regulations which govern commercial motor vehicles and the companies who operate these vehicles. Their stated purpose is to attempt to make the interstate highways more safe.
Yes. Since 1939, Federal law has placed restrictions on the “hours of service” that a trucker may operate his truck. Recent changes have been made to these rules for the first time in over 60 years. These rules are designed to promote safety by helping to ensure that truck drivers are getting the needed rest to operate their big rigs safely.
Yes. Federal law requires commercial vehicles traveling in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage. Most State laws also impose minimum insurance requirements on trucks not covered under Federal law.
Anyone who is injured or has had a loved one killed in a truck accident can sue as long as some other person or entity is at fault for the accident. This includes adults and children (who can sue through guardians or parents); and even truck drivers if another person or entity was at fault for the accident.
Any person or entity who was at fault for causing the accident can be sued. This includes the truck driver and the trucking company, the owner of the trailer, the shipper, as well as any other driver, person or entity who in anyway contributed to the accident, such as the manufacturer of one of the vehicles involved in the accident, the manufacturer of a tire that contributed to the accident or the owner of any public or private property whose negligence contributed to the accident.
Yes. It is critical. If the truck was commercially owned, in most situations large trucking companies will perform their own investigation immediately after the accident. This puts you at a vast disadvantage. It is important that you retain an attorney who immediately investigates the case to attempt to pin down liability on any potential at-fault defendants.
Usually. Unless there is no question that one party was completely at fault, a plaintiff in any serious injury or death case involving a truck should usually retain an expert. Further, that expert should have special expertise in the design, manufacture and operation of trucks and the rules of the trucking industry.
Each state has a different law. A seriously injured plaintiff may be entitled to recover all of his or her past and future medical expenses; past and future loss of income/earning capacity; past and future pain, suffering and emotional distress and in cases in which the defendant’s conduct is particularly bad, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the defendant. If a person dies in a truck accident, the survivors may recover monetary damages for their economic losses and emotional distress damages for loss of society, love and comfort.
A Big Rig Accidents and/or wrongful death action, each state has a different law. In some state a truck accident case must be brought within two years of the date of the decedent’s death, if death occurred on or after January 1, 2004; and one year from the date of decedent’s death if the death occurred prior to January 1, 2004.
Yes. Unless you have a very minor injury, which is rare in truck accident cases, you will need to retain an attorney to establish liability against any potential defendants and help maximize your damage recovery.