What If the Trucking Company Says I’m At Fault?
It is common to hear adjusters and trucking company representatives make the argument that a victim is to blame.
This argument is probably among the most common one a personal injury lawyer will hear when dealing with a trucking accident case. The fact is Alabama denies compensation to victims if they at all share in the blame. Therefore, defendants know if they can manipulate the facts even slightly, it may result in not having to pay.
First, know that when you are represented by an experienced trucking accident lawyer, you are not in this alone.
Second, understand that jurors are real people who understand the rules of the road pretty well. If your version of events is supported by the crash data, the photographs, and the damages, jurors can generally tell the difference between the truth and an elaborate fabrication to avoid responsibility.
Finally, if your attorney understands federal and state trucking regulations, there is often a host of ways the truck driver and the company violated those rules. If so, this is often strong evidence of their negligence.
Who Can Be Held Responsible in a Semi-Truck Accident?
Responsibility for a truck crash is not always easy to understand. For instance, there may be numerous parties involved in a crash, even if there are only two vehicles on the scene.
Consider a simple example:
An independent truck driver owns his own limited liability company. He is driving a truck that he leased from a major trucking company, and per the contract, he must solely haul their freight, wear their uniform, and report to their operating centers. His truck bears their logo and the company pays most of the charges and expenses for operating the truck. His dispatcher routinely pushes him to haul loads that exceed the distance he can travel at a legal speed during regular operating hours of service, so the driver begins falsifying his logbooks and driving when fatigued.
On his last load, the warehouse company overloaded him by as much as 20,000 pounds above what the truck can legally carry, but being exhausted and behind schedule, the driver chose not to weigh the load. Late at night, he fails to react in time and collides with a family on the interstate. A crash report shows that the air brakes were not properly maintained, and his maintenance logs show no one had performed proper inspections in over 50,000 miles.
In this very common and simple example, there are potentially numerous parties responsible for the crash. They may include:
- The truck driver
- The driver’s own LLC
- The trucking company that leased him the truck
- The company that overloaded the freight
- The mechanic or contracted mechanic company that failed to properly maintain the brakes
- The dispatcher who encouraged the driver to violate the law
- In some cases, there may even be a defective product manufacturer, such as faulty brakes that cause a crash
Remember that this is just one simple example. There are plenty of cases that are far more complex than this. Many trucking cases include negligent subcontracted loaders who mishandle freight, leaving the load unsecure, as well as numerous others who may be involved behind the scenes. For this reason, it’s important to be represented by an experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney who knows what to look for.
How Can a Semi-Truck Lawyer Help After an Accident?
After a trucking crash, an 18-wheeler accident lawyer will work to swiftly investigate the crash. Trucking companies are notorious for moving quickly to hide evidence or even make repairs to trucks and other equipment before photos can be taken. At Gartlan Injury Law, we will immediately begin investigating the crash and documenting evidence.
- Thorough Investigations. We leave no stone unturned when looking for evidence that could help prove your case. Sometimes this means:
- Talking to witnesses
- Gathering electronic crash data (black box)
- Getting the accident report
- Hiring a crash reconstruction or forensic engineer
- Using private investigators to photograph the scene
- Use of drone technology to canvas and map a crash scene
- Consulting with medical experts to understand your injuries
- Fierce Negotiations and Trial Strategies. Our firm will tirelessly pursue justice. This usually means we will look for just about any way to leverage our strengths to get a fair settlement if possible. Where not possible, we may need to take your case to trial. If so, our attorney will fight with you side-by-side to prove your case to the jury.
Compensation for Losses For Trucking Accidents
In a truck crash, many victims suffer from serious life-threatening injuries that can create huge medical debts and long periods out of work. A Dothan, AL truck accident attorney from Gartlan Injury Law will work to obtain compensation for your injuries, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical bills
- Future medical costs
- Lost wages
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Additional damages may be available in your case
Since every case is unique, it’s important to carefully document your injuries and how the crash affects your life. You should keep some sort of notebook or journal where you can keep track of things like changes in your daily life, pain you are experiencing, or things you are no longer able to do. This will help your attorney better understand the impact of your injuries.
How Long Do You Have to File an Accident Claim?
Like other types of injury claims in Alabama, you only have 2 years from the date of the crash to bring a trucking accident claim against those to blame for your injuries. There are only very narrow exceptions to this strict rule. The earlier you begin working with an experienced Dothan truck accident attorney, the sooner you and your attorney can identify all potential defendants who need to be included in the lawsuit.
There are other benefits to hiring an attorney early. For instance:
- It takes time to develop a case. It can take months to gather medical records, interview witnesses, and perform background checks of defendants and companies. If you wait until the last minute, a lawyer may not have time to do all that is needed to properly protect your rights.
- Evidence can be lost or destroyed. If you wait too long, key evidence can go missing, witnesses may die or relocate, and trucks may be repaired or sold. This can make it practically impossible to prove your case.
- The statute of limitations may not be as clear as you think. While the general statute of limitations in Alabama is 2 years for a truck accident, there are times that this time limit can be much shorter. For instance, if the federal government is involved, your time frame for filing notice of your claim can be much shorter. Injuries caused by the U.S. Postal Service or similar government entities generally have very limited rules about how you can be compensated. Miss the deadline, and your rights are forever gone.
Likewise, in Dothan, Alabama you only have 6 months from a crash to commence an action against a local municipality. Sometimes water services, trash companies, or other entities that seem private, may actually be publicly owned and operated by a city or county government. In these situations, it would be a grave mistake to wait before talking to a lawyer.