Although we see semi-trucks all of the time, few of us consider how incredibly dangerous they can be. And trucking accidents are very different from car accidents.
Due to the enormous difference in size between a truck and a normal vehicle, it’s all too common for a semi-truck accident to cause life-altering injuries and death.
Furthermore, trucks are often owned by corporations rather than individuals. This often makes trucking accident lawsuits more complicated than regular car accident lawsuits.
If you or a loved one have recently been in a semi-truck accident, a lawsuit could be the best way to receive compensation for your losses. Take a moment to review some of our most frequently asked questions about these kinds of cases and contact a truck accident lawyer to discuss your specific case.
FAQ #1: What Should I Do After a Semi-Truck Accident?
You’re driving along the highway after work one day. Then, out of nowhere, you’re struck by a semi-truck. Things are moving fast but you need to take a few key steps to ensure your potential claim.
The first thing you need to do is get yourself and your passengers to a safe place immediately. However, stay near the scene of the accident.
Be sure to call the police and wait for an officer to arrive. After that, get medical attention right away either through emergency personnel arriving at the scene or going to your nearest medical provider, because many times after a collision injuries are not always apparent. If possible, you should also:
- Exchange information with the truck driver,
- Collect evidence of the scene of the accident (i.e., photos, dashcam videos), and
- Get the contact information of any eyewitnesses.
FAQ #2: What Is My Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuit Worth?
Our team gets this question all the time, but there isn’t an easy answer. You see, no trucking accident is the same under the law. The value of your case depends on several factors.
One factor is the severity of your medical injuries. Were you left with a bruise, a concussion, or multiple broken bones? The more serious your medical injuries, the higher your potential compensation.
Another factor is whether you missed any work because of the accident. Your damages will be greater if you miss a year of work rather than just a few hours.
Yet another factor is who was at fault for the accident. Since 1975, California has followed the doctrine of pure comparative negligence. What this means is that your recovery will be limited if a judge decides that you were partially at fault for the accident.
For example, let’s say you sue the truck driver’s employer after the accident. The jury decides in your favor and awards damages of $100,000. However, if a jury decides that you were 25% responsible for the accident, you will only recover $75,000. Another factor is the amount of insurance the semi-truck is carrying while being on the road.
FAQ #3: How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer for a Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuit?
There are two main ways that attorneys charge for their services. One way is an hourly rate that allows the client to pay over time. With this fee arrangement, the client has to pay regardless of whether they win or lose the case.
The second way of paying an attorney is called a “contingency fee.” With a contingency fee, the client pays the lawyer for their services only if the client wins the case. For their fee, the lawyer takes a percentage of the client’s recovery, usually between 30% and 40%.
FAQ #4: Why Should I Hire An Attorney?
The reason for this is that very few people understand the full extent of their rights. The goal of the semi-trucks insurance is to resolve your potential claim as quickly as possible for as low as possible.
A truck accident attorney can fix this. They can assess your case and help you understand what legal concepts are at play and sometimes even give you a rough estimate of your chances of success.
Once you’ve hired an attorney, they can do several other vital tasks. First, they can collect valuable evidence, like medical records, police reports, and witness statements. Second, they can assist you with seeking medical treatment. Third, they can negotiate on your behalf with the insurance companies, the truck driving company, and other third parties. Third, they can persuasively present your case to a jury so that you can receive the compensation you deserve.
FAQ #5: What Should I Do If the Truck Driver’s Insurance Company Offers Me a Settlement?
Most people assume the best of others. So if an insurance company offers you a seemingly generous settlement right after the accident, you might be tempted to accept it as a nice gesture.
However, you must always remember that insurance companies are not on your side. Their goal is to pay as little as possible. As such, their settlement offers may be far less than you deserve.
In many cases, the initial offer may not be based on your lost wages, medical expenses, or emotional trauma. The amount is just enough for you to close your claim against the negligent driver. In addition, accepting the offer is irrevocable and prevents you from filing against the truck driving company later on.
Once you hire an attorney, they will negotiate with the truck driver’s insurance company to help get you a fair recovery amount.
FAQ #6: Is It Okay For Me to Just Speak with the Truck Driver’s Insurance Company?
We recommend that truck accident victims avoid speaking with an insurance company unless they have an attorney. There is no law or statute that forces you to have to speak to their insurance company. In many instances talking with them is harmful to your interests.
The insurance company will try to get information out of you that will help them later on. In extreme cases, they may even try to misrepresent your words and misconstrue your statements for their benefit.
FAQ #7: How Long Do I Have to File an 18-Wheeler Accident Lawsuit in California?
The law discourages truck accident victims from waiting long periods before filing a lawsuit. Hence, victims have a deadline—called a statute of limitations—to file a case. In truck accident cases (and other personal injury cases), you have only two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
If you wait until after that deadline to file a claim, the court can dismiss your case. To make matters even more complicated, certain circumstances can alter the default statute of limitations period. Consequently, it’s best to contact an attorney as soon as you can following a trucking accident.
FAQ #8: Do I Need to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney, or Can I Just Hire A General Attorney?
To obtain the best results, you need to consult an attorney who focuses on the kind of case that you have. Truck accident cases have potentially serious injuries and liability issues, in addition to insurance coverage questions, the attorney you hire should have the experience and knowledge of working on truck accident and semi-truck accident cases.
Looking to Protect Your Rights? Call Us Today
No one should have to live through the trauma of a semi-truck accident. Unfortunately, these kinds of accidents often lead to years of medical bills, rehabilitation, and lost wages. However, the good news is that you can recover fair compensation after an 18-wheeler accident lawsuit with the assistance of a skilled attorney. It is also possible for victims to obtain generous settlements from semi-truck wrecks.
Lawyers come in all shapes and sizes. When picking a lawyer, you need to choose an experienced attorney that you can trust. Michael Beliz has been a practicing personal injury attorney for over 15 years. He has handled hundreds of cases, including many car accident and truck accident cases. On top of that, he has also obtained remarkable results for some of his clients. He’s ready to sit down with you and listen to your story. Call us today or contact us online to set up an appointment.