Are You the Victim of a Trucking Accident?
Because of their size and weight, trucks can easily cause violent, horrific accidents that lead to serious injuries and death for the occupants of the other vehicles involved.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident, please call the Maurer Law Firm at 845-896-5295 today to schedule your free case consultation with Ira Maurer, an accident lawyer with more than four decades of experience representing accident victims.
- Why You Need An Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
- Legal Help for Injured Truck Drivers
- Investigating Your Truck Accident
- Causes of Trucking Accidents
- Video: Who Can be Held Liable?
- Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
- How a Truck Accident Lawsuit Works
- Compensation for Your Injuries
- Answering Frequently Asked Questions about Truck Accidents
- Call the Maurer Law Firm Today
Why You Need An Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
Truck accident lawsuits tend to be far more complex than other vehicle accidents, so it is best to immediately consult with a truck accident lawyer who will look out for your best interests. Trucking company investigators and insurance adjusters immediately start defending the trucking companies from anticipated lawsuits after an accident, and they are quick to gather evidence and expert opinions to deny you compensation or blame you for the accident.
Trucking litigation can involve claims against many types of parties, including:
- Negligent truck drivers
- Companies who hire truck drivers
- Truck and truck part manufacturers
The federal government strictly regulates the trucking industry with weight and length limits and rules for commercial licenses, such as how many hours in a day a truck driver can drive, drug or alcohol testing, and strict maintenance and manufacturing standards.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was established to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths involving large trucks. To carry out this mission, the Safety Administration regulates all aspects of interstate trucking operations to ensure safe practices are followed.
The federal regulations are designed to ensure that truck drivers are properly qualified and trained, and that trucking companies and drivers follow safe practices when operating, loading, routing and maintaining their trucks. All motor carriers operating in interstate commerce are required to be familiar with and follow the federal regulations. Individual states also have laws specially regulating the conduct of trucking operations within their borders.
An experienced truck accident lawyer like Ira Maurer understands the intricacies of these laws and regulations and how they apply to liability in your specific case. He can help you understand who may be held responsible for your injuries and what your rights to compensation against the responsible parties are.
Legal Help for Injured Truck Drivers
Truck drivers often suffer catastrophic injuries in trucking accidents too. If you are a truck driver working for a national trucking company and you are seriously injured due to a defect in the truck, you may be able to successfully sue for damages beyond the wage and medical benefits provided by your state's workers' compensation system. This is because the workers' compensation laws only prevent you from suing your own employer, but don't block lawsuits against another company that owns the truck or companies that manufactured the truck or individually defective truck parts.
Investigating Your Truck Accident
Truck accidents can happen for many reasons, and the exact cause may not always be obvious. The Maurer Law Firm has the experience and investigative resources to analyze the cause(s) of your accident.
Trucking 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 a truck accident. Trucking company accident investigations frequently include having an investigator contact accident victims immediately following the accident, when they are most vulnerable.
While the families of the accident victims are tending to medical and hospital care and funeral arrangements, the trucking company is investigating the truck accident and setting up their legal defense with lawyers who specialize in defending large trucking companies. These agents work to limit the trucking company's liability and financial exposure. This is why the victims of big trucking accidents also need to have a team of investigators and truck accident attorneys on their side, fighting for their rights.
Every piece of evidence from the accident must be found and given careful consideration in order to determine:
- Whether human error, mechanical failure or a combination of both contributed to the accident
- Who the responsible parties are
- How much time you have to commence your lawsuit
- Where to bring the lawsuit
- What kind of experts will be needed to prove your case
- What strategies will be used to achieve success
Just as truck drivers are trained and required to report any accident to their superiors immediately to enable the truck company to immediately commence its own investigation, it is important that persons harmed in the accident hire an attorney as soon as possible to investigate on their behalf. The more time that passes before an investigation begins, the greater chance that important evidence may be lost.
An investigation will include such things as:
- Interviewing witnesses while the events are fresh in their minds
- Sending letters to the trucking company and others to preserve important evidence they have
- Taking pictures of the accident scene, the vehicles involved in the accident, and the victims’ injuries
- Obtaining official police reports and photographs
- Sending for copies of relevant medical records and bills
- Identifying and researching the backgrounds of the potentially responsible individuals and companies
In addition to investigating the facts, a qualified truck accident attorney will also investigate and research the law before filing a lawsuit. For instance, you may have the right to choose the location where you will bring a lawsuit and whether to bring a lawsuit in federal or state court. These decisions can have a significant impact upon the amount of monetary damages you will receive. Before filing the lawsuit, a qualified truck accident attorney must research these issues and make important strategic decisions that will affect the monetary value of the case.
At the Maurer Law Firm, we can fight for your rights. We have the experience necessary in these types of complex cases to thoroughly investigate the cause of the accident, identify the parties responsible, and begin pursuing legal action to get you and your family the compensation you need for recovery.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
A truck crash that seriously injured you or a loved one is a tragic event to experience. In addition to the excruciating emotional and physical pain caused by these accidents, there are serious financial ramifications to these accidents as well. Truck accidents may be caused by one or a combination of the following:
- Lack of training
- Brake failure/defect
- Driver inexperience
- Driver error
- Driver distraction due to the presence of electronic devices in the truck cab
- Alcohol or substance abuse
- Running off the road
- Failure to yield the right of way
- Aggressive driving behavior
- Overloaded trucks
- Improperly secured cargo
- Oversized trucks
- Employment of dangerous or reckless truck driver with a long record of wrecks and accidents
- Driving in conditions of poor visibility due to smoke, fog, snow or rain
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance in violation of federal regulations
- Negligent design of the roadway, divider, shoulder, guardrail
- Poor signage
- Insufficient lighting
- Failure of truck to have installed underride protection underguard
- Unsafe or insufficient safety systems, reflectors, lights and other warning devices
When a tractor-trailer is driving in hazardous conditions, federal law requires the truck driver to use extreme caution. The extreme caution standard pre-empts, or supersedes, state law. The federal regulation is 49 Code of Federal Regulations Section 392.14. This regulation requires that:
"Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction".
The trucking regulation requires truck drivers to reduce speed when these hazardous conditions exist and even requires a truck driver to stop driving if the driver can’t drive safely while those conditions exist.
Common Injuries in Truck Accidents
Tens of thousands of trucking accidents occur each year, leaving victims in smaller and lighter passenger cars with severe and sometimes fatal injuries. Truck drivers themselves can also sustain serious or catastrophic injuries or death due to improper maintenance of their trucks or manufacturing defects.
Some of the most severe injuries that can be caused by these types of auto accidents are:
- Brain injury and other serious head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Loss of limbs
- Bone fractures
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Wrongful death
This is not an exhaustive list of possible injuries. If you are unsure whether you suffered the type of injury that may entitle you to compensation, please call our law firm right away. We will help you determine what steps to take moving forward. You deserve to be compensated for the way the injury has impacted your life, and you deserve the opportunity to hold the responsible party accountable.
How A Truck Accident Lawsuit Works
Compensation for Your Injuries
Ira Maurer has many years of experience with these types of accident cases and with truck accident investigations He will fight tirelessly on your behalf to recover compensation for your claim. You deserve compensation so that you can begin to heal and recover from the way the accident injuries have affected your life and wellbeing. With a truck accident claim handled by Mr. Maurer, you can pursue compensation damages for things including:
- Expensive, extensive and ongoing medical care
- Lost income from being unable to perform your job duties
- Inability to support your dependants because of loss of wages
- Loss of enjoyment of hobbies, recreation, sports and other activities
- Emotional and mental pain, anguish and suffering
- Lasting physical pain
- Funeral expenses
Every state has its own laws about the types of monetary damages that are available to compensate those who have been harmed by the negligence of others in a truck accident. Just as different states recognize different categories of damages, some states also have laws limiting the amount of money damages that can be recovered. Mr. Maurer will be able to explain the kind of damages that may be recovered in your case.
Answering Frequently Asked Questions about Truck Accidents
Q. What Legal Rights Do You Have After A Truck Accident?
A. If a person is injured or killed in a truck accident, a lawsuit may be brought to recover money damages (compensatory damages) from those responsible for causing the accident. Depending upon the circumstances of each case, the individuals that may have a legal right to bring a lawsuit to recover damages include:
- People injured in the accident
- The spouse of a person injured in the accident
- The legal guardian of any person injured in the accident
- A person recognized by the law as the personal representative for the estate of a person killed in the accident
- Persons who are at the scene of the accident who are considered to have been within the “zone of danger” that experience emotional harm due to the accident.
An attorney who is qualified to handle truck accident claims can advise you, based upon all of the circumstances of your case, who are the responsible parties who should be sued and which persons have a right to bring a lawsuit and/or recover monetary damages from the responsible parties.
Q. Are There Time Limits For Bringing A Lawsuit After A Truck Accident?
A. Yes, except for very rare exceptions, there are time limits (statutes of limitations) for bringing a lawsuit. Once the time limit expires, with few exceptions, you lose your right to recover monetary damages from those individuals or entities that were responsible for causing the accident.
The statutes of limitations are determined by the nature of the claim involved. For example, a personal injury claim based upon negligence in one state may have a three year limitations period while a wrongful death claim may only have a one year limitations period. In addition, the limitations periods for different types of claims vary from state to state. Furthermore, the statutes of limitations can be extended under certain limited circumstances. After an auto or truck accident, it is very important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to find out how long you have to bring a lawsuit.
Q. Should I Speak With Representatives Of The Trucking Company Or Its Insurance Company?
A. Another important reason why you should hire an experienced trucking accident attorney soon after the accident is that the attorney will know how to respond to inevitable inquiries from the trucking company and/or its insurance company. Beyond your duty to provide information to the police at the scene of the accident, you should not give verbal or written statements about the accident or your medical condition to anyone.
If anyone other than your own insurance company contacts you about the accident, the best thing to do is give your attorney’s contact information to the inquirer and nothing more. As explained in the previous answer, the ultimate goal of investigations performed on behalf of trucking companies and their insurers is to pay the persons harmed as little money as possible. To accomplish this goal, potential defendants will attempt to obtain information from you that can be used against you in a lawsuit.
Once you have hired an attorney, these companies know that they will likely have to pay much more money to resolve the claim. For this reason, the trucking companies and their insurance companies will offer to settle with you for minimal money before you understand your rights. One method used by these companies is to have a "friendly" adjuster contact you and appear genuinely concerned with your medical condition and how your bills will be paid. That concern will vanish as soon as you are represented by an experienced trucking attorney.
Q. How Long Does It Take To Litigate A Trucking Accident Case To Its Conclusion?
A. The answer to this question varies from case to case depending upon a number of factors. Sometimes it takes an extended period of time for the treating doctors to figure out why a patient may still be experiencing pain after an injury. Cases should not be brought to a conclusion before you, your doctors and your attorney have a clear understanding of the nature and extent of your injuries and disabilities and whether or not you will need additional treatment and/or surgery in the future.
The duration of a case will also be determined in part by where you bring your lawsuit. Some courts have longer lists (dockets) of cases that are waiting to proceed to trial than other courts. Another factor that affects the length of time you will have to wait for your case to be concluded is the number and nature of defendants who are brought into a case.
There is a correlation to how many defendants are in a lawsuit and how long the lawsuit will take to be concluded. This is because it takes more time to schedule all phases of the litigation when there are more parties to the lawsuit.
Furthermore, corporate defendants tend to have more financial resources available to defend themselves. If allowed, those corporate defendants may attempt to engage in litigation practices that are likely to delay a resolution of the case. An experienced trucking accident attorney knows the importance of identifying and including all individuals and companies that should be a part of the lawsuit and has the experience and resources to deal with the defendant's attempts to delay the case.
Q. What Kinds Of Things Happen During Trucking Accident Lawsuits?
A. Once you decide which attorney you want to represent you, the attorney will conduct the investigation, collect the evidence, perform the legal research, and prosecute the lawsuit. You will need to provide information to the attorney both before and during the lawsuit which will likely include, but is not limited to:
- Your description of the accident
- The names and addresses of witnesses to the accident
- The names and addresses of all examining, testing and treating doctors, hospitals and therapists
- Your educational background
- Your employment history
- Any previous accidents and injuries
- Preexisting medical conditions
- Previous lawsuits where you were a party
You will have to sign authorizations that will permit your attorney and the defendant's attorney to obtain your medical records, employment records, insurance records and state and federal tax returns. You may also have to provide pre-trial deposition testimony.
You will be involved in settlement discussion as the case proceeds. Your attorney will serve as an advisor about any settlement offer, but you will make the final decision about whether or not to accept any settlement. If the case does not settle before trial, you will need to attend and testify at the trial.
Q. What Should I Keep In Mind When Selecting A Truck Accident Attorney?
A. First and foremost, you should hire an attorney or law firm that is tough, experienced and respected. Your attorney should be reputable, have a track record of success, and fully committed to fighting on your behalf. You should feel comfortable with your attorney and be confident that they are committed to keeping you educated and informed at every stage of your case.
Do not hire an attorney solely because they are a friend or family. While such attorneys may have your best interests at heart, they may not have the experience, knowledge and resources to help you obtain all of the monetary damages you should receive in the most efficient way possible.
Call the Maurer Law Firm Today
The Maurer Law Firm represents seriously injured victims of truck accidents across the United States. If you have been seriously injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident, or are a lawyer seeking co-counsel, we welcome your inquiries.