Building a Truck Accident Claim

Posted On May 24, 2021 Truck Accidents
How to Prepare a Truck Accident Case | The Flood Law Firm

Semi-trucks haul hundreds of billions of dollars in goods across the United States every year. Given the money at stake, it should come as no surprise that trucking companies may cut corners and ignore regulations to move more cargo in less time.

Unfortunately, negligence on the part of the trucking industry comes at an immense human cost. According to the latest annual statistics (2019) from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in one year more than 4,100 people were killed in accidents involving large trucks. Occupants of vehicles other than the commercial truck account for the majority of these deaths.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a collision with a tractor-trailer, it is important to hire an experienced lawyer who can build a strong claim on your behalf. Contact a Connecticut truck accident attorney at The Flood Law Firm today for a free case review.

What to Do After a Truck Accident

Due to factors such as high speeds and immense differences in size and weight, truck accidents often lead to catastrophic injuries (or worse). As a result, it is generally not possible for the victims of truck accidents to photograph the scene, exchange information with the other driver(s), and take other important steps to protect their rights.

Therefore, once you receive medical care for your injuries, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

A truck accident attorney can review the details of your case, advise you of your legal options for recovering compensation, and develop a strategy for holding the liable parties to account for your injuries. Generally, building a claim involves the following steps:

1. Determining the Liability of the Driver

The investigation of any crash begins with assessing the actions (or inaction) of the drivers involved. More is expected of commercial drivers because of the training they undergo. Unfortunately, negligence on the part of truck drivers (as well as their employers) can lead to devastating accidents.

Common issues of driver negligence in truck accident claims include:

  • Cell phone use, eating, drinking, smoking, and other distractions
  • Excess speed
  • Driver fatigue
  • Following another vehicle too closely
  • Turning errors
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, and/or narcotics
  • Failure to inspect the rig and cargo prior to driving

Some evidence of these and other errors may be found through investigation and reconstruction of the accident scene (e.g., photos of skid marks, damage to the roadway, etc.). Other evidence of negligence may be discoverable through analysis of records maintained by the truck driver and the trucking company.

For example, investigation of the driver’s logbook may reveal violations of the federal limits placed on hours of service (i.e., how long commercial drivers can be on duty before taking a rest). Not only would such a violation constitute negligence on the driver’s part, but it may indicate wrongdoing on the part of the trucking company as well.

2. Investigating Trucking Company Records

Although the truck driver may be the one who actually caused the accident, it is important not to overlook the potential negligence of his or her employer. Trucking companies are businesses, and they frequently place more importance on profit than safety.

Investigation of the records maintained by the trucking company may reveal multiple forms of negligence that contributed to the accident, including:

  • Hiring unqualified drivers or drivers with previous accidents, violations, etc.
  • Failure to provide drivers with adequate training
  • Failure to maintain up-to-date health records for drivers (commercial drivers may be disqualified from operating a rig if they fail to meet certain health-based criteria)
  • Failure to test drivers for drugs and alcohol
  • Setting unrealistic delivery schedules, resulting in hours of service violations
  • Negligent maintenance of trucks

One of the most important reasons to contact a lawyer after a truck accident is to preserve records that may be essential to your claim. Your attorney can issue a spoliation letter to the trucking company to request the preservation of relevant evidence (such as paper and electronic records).

3. Examining the Truck

Another critical piece of evidence that can be preserved through a letter of spoliation is the tractor-trailer itself. Trucking companies will quickly take possession of the rig after an accident, and it is important for your attorney and hired experts to have a chance to inspect the truck for defects, mechanical failures, etc.

Multiple parties may be liable for truck accidents caused by faulty components. A third-party mechanic or maintenance company may be at fault for failing to make repairs and replace parts. If a component on the truck failed due to a defect, the manufacturer and other parties involved in the distribution and sale can be sued.

4. Assessing Data on the ‘Black Box’

Semi-trucks are outfitted with event data recorders (EDRs). These electronic modules are similar to the black box on airplanes, recording key aspects of the truck’s performance and actions taken by the operator.

After a truck crash, the black box data can be analyzed for driver errors and other issues that may have caused the accident. Information collected from the EDR can support your claim of negligence against the truck driver. If, for example, the truck driver says he was going the speed limit but the EDR records a different speed immediately prior to the accident, this would support your claim for damages.

5. Calculating Damages

The compensation you may be able to recover in a truck accident claim depends on the extent of your losses. Claims for serious injuries and wrongful death often involve extensive damages.

You only have one chance to recover the full compensation you deserve after a truck accident. An experienced attorney will thoroughly review your medical records, enlist medical and financial experts to determine the extent of your injuries and how they will impact the rest of your life (physically, emotionally, and financially), and determine the monetary value of these damages.

Commercial trucking is protected by large and powerful insurance companies. These insurers will mount their own investigation of the accident and employ a very different system for valuing your claim. It is safe to say that the liable parties and their insurance companies will offer less than your case is truly worth.

You need to hire an attorney who not only has the experience and resources to build a strong truck accident claim on your behalf, but who will staunchly protect your rights and fight for a favorable outcome in your case.

Meet Our Attorneys

Start Building Your Truck Accident Claim

Litigation involving truck accidents is complicated. The damages in these claims are often extensive, liability is complex, and those who have been wronged face powerful opposition.

The attorneys at The Flood Law Firm are distinguished by their extensive trial experience. Our attorneys have taken hundreds of cases to court, frequently achieving results that surpass by orders of magnitude the pre-trial settlements offered by insurers. This reputation precedes us in settlement negotiations as well, enabling our team to negotiate effectively on behalf of our clients.

Please call The Flood Law Firm at (860) 346-2695 today for a free consultation. Our Connecticut truck accident attorneys serve clients in Middletown, Danbury, Waterbury, Bridgeport, and throughout the state.

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