Accidents involving trucks are often catastrophic. The enormous proportion of a truck is partially responsible for making truck accidents one of the most catastrophic incidents on the road. When an accident happens, there are many factors involved in determining whose fault it is in the first place. Due to the immense impact and danger, truck accidents are held to higher standards in reimbursement of damages for any caused injuries. Since trucking accidents are very different from regular car accidents due to trucks’ size and weight, the injured parties may suffer very severe injuries.
There are many players that come into play when trying to identify the persons liable for the accident. Is it a tired truck driver who didn’t notice another vehicle while he was switching a lane? Is it a trucking company which failed to properly train, instruct, monitor or screen its employees? Is it a manufacturing company that put a defective part while assembling a truck? Or is it a leasing company that didn’t maintain brakes or lights in good condition, which caused a collision with another vehicle? For this reason, trucking industry is thoroughly controlled by federal laws and regulations. These laws set the standards for all parties associated with the trucking business. Everyone must meet these standards, including truck companies, drivers, leasing companies, shippers, and so on. Thus, when an accident occurs, the responsible party can be identified by determining who failed to meet the standards or follow the protocol.
Most accidents involving trucks result in serious injuries. Therefore, it often becomes important to identify all possible sources of insurance coverage. Trucking companies are required to maintain commercial liability insurance coverage with high policy limits. Most frequently, the trucking companies would be liable for the negligence of their drivers under the agent-principal theory. The trucking company may also be liable for negligent hiring, failure to properly train and/or instruct the driver, negligent retention, negligent entrustment, and under other theories of liability.
Common types of trucking accidents:
Jackknife trucking accidents are among the most dangerous types of accidents one can be involved in. Jackknifing occurs when a trailer starts swinging out to one side and forms an angle with the tractor. From that point on the truck driver has no control over his 18-wheeler. The causes may vary from abrupt braking and turning to possibly unforeseen slipperiness of the road.
Turning trucking accidents are very common due to trucks’ size and weight that contribute to its difficulty in making turns. It often requires two lanes to complete a turn; thus, all truck drivers must be very skilled and experienced to maneuver a gigantic rig without making a slightest mistake that can result in an accident.
Underride trucking accidents happen when a motor vehicle goes underneath the bottom of a trailer. The impact of an accident can cause serious injuries to a vehicle driver who gets trapped underneath the truck.
Overloaded trucking accidents occur due to negligence of truck drivers and trucking companies who ignore the laws and regulations, and as the result overload the 18-wheelers. A completely loaded truck may not exceed 80, 000 pounds. Disregarding such limitation may create a hazardous situation for everyone travelling on the road.
Common injuries after being involved in a trucking accident may include:
- Back and Neck Injuries
- Head Injuries
- Internal Injuries
- Passenger Injuries
- Rib and Torso Injuries
- Seat Belt Injuries
- Skull Fractures
- Spinal Cord Injuries
- Wrongful Death
When you are injured in a traffic accident, you may be asking – how much money will I get from insurance company? You may want to know if punitive damages can be awarded, because of possible aggravating factors, such as a drunk driver or intoxicated driver. What should I do to maximize my insurance compensation? Is the insurance company acting in bad faith? Should I file a personal injury lawsuit? When to file a lawsuit in a traffic accident case? Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company? Should I hire a personal injury lawyer? Often after an accident, a representative of the at-fault party’s insurance company will call you directly and make an offer to settle the claim. Usually, they will offer to pay a small sum of money and your initial medical bills. We encourage every injured person we speak with a lawyer to avoid this phone call, and refuse to speak with anybody from the at-fault party’s insurance company about your injuries, until you have received the advice of a competent attorney.
Why do we feel this is so important?
You will always be better off working with an experienced personal injury attorney, because the insurance company will rarely offer you the same amount of compensation as you could get with a help of a great lawyer. A great personal injury lawyer will prove liability, identify all available sources of insurance coverage, and maximize your compensation by collecting proceeds from all sources. For example, did you know that in Virginia, in certain circumstances, you can have your health insurer pay for your medical bills, then you can collect the full amount of the same paid medical bills from your auto insurance MedPay coverage, and then turn around and collect the same amounts from the third party liability insurer? And you would not have to reimburse the health insurer. In effect, you get to collect three times the amount your medical bills from insurance companies. This is only one of many intricacies of personal injury laws.
Most insurance companies have different adjusters handling pro se cases (unrepresented by attorneys) than handle cases where the claimant is represented by an attorney. Why is that? Because the bottom line in every personal injury case is the question – “what will happen if a lawsuit is filed?”, “what will the jury award?” While the insurance company knows that you can retain an attorney and file a lawsuit, they are not under any pressure to compensate you fairly until you actually hire an attorney to represent you. In other words, unless you have a reputable and aggressive lawyer on your side, the insurance company is not convinced that you would file a lawsuit and, therefore, they believe you would take what they offer. They know that they can still increase their offer to you, when the time comes that you proceed to file a lawsuit.
In cases where the at-fault party denies liability for your injuries, it is usually necessary to file a lawsuit in State or Federal court in order to receive the compensation you deserve. A great attorney will keep up the pressure on the other side’s adjusters and attorneys throughout the litigation process, and present your case to a judge and jury if necessary to receive fair compensation. Insurance companies know that people without legal representation have a very small chance of success in court, so there is very little incentive for them to make a fair and reasonable settlement offer before an attorney is hired.
As a general rule, if the liability is undisputed, you are entitled to the amount of your current medical bills, your lost wages, your reasonable future medical expenses, your reasonable future lost wages, and a compensation for your past and future pain and suffering. Certain injuries – such as concussions, traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, scarring, and injuries that cause permanent mobility and lifestyle limitations – deserve compensation that goes well beyond your medical bills, both because of the severe pain experienced by the injured person and the long-term effects that the injured person must endure.
When your injuries are severe, the amount of available insurance coverage becomes important. It also becomes important to determine all possible liable parties, so that you can have more insurance coverage for your losses. The laws on the sources of coverage are very complicated. For example, in certain circumstances, you may be able to stack up your Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage, you may also recover Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage in addition to your damages from the liability insurer. You may also be eligible for additional coverage under the insurance policies of your household members. The liable party may also have an additional “umbrella” coverage, which would not be disclosed to you unless your damages meet the certain threshold. An experienced and diligent personal injury lawyer, will untangle all these issues, identify all possible sources of insurance coverage available for you.
I.S. Law Firm will not charge you legal fees, unless we recover a compensation for you. This is called a “contingency fee.” There are many twists and turns along the way, and the insurance company will try to use every new fact and circumstance to undercut the compensation you deserve. A contingency fee means that you can rest assured that your attorney will fight for you to the very end, and obtain every dollar of compensation possible.
Our team of personal injury lawyers will make sure to take the following crucial steps in protecting the client’s interests and maximizing the outcome of the case:
1) Protect the client from insurance questioning seeking to obtain damaging statements.
The minute after a claim is filed or the insurance carrier becomes aware of the accident, the insurance company begins its quest for poking holes in your case, exploring every possible way to minimize or deny the claim. They will trick the injured claimant into believing that, providing a recorded statement to the insurance company will somehow speed up the process or increase the chances of higher compensation. This is a trap! The adjuster will play your friend and try to seem compassionate about your injuries. However, the true intent is to use every possible way to mercilessly deny your claims. The insurance adjuster will record the telephone conversations and lure you into making damaging statements, misinterpret and misconstrue your every word in light most favorable to his employer – the insurance company.
Therefore, to balance the scales, it is important to secure a team of personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. Retaining a law firm like ours activates a team of exceptional lawyers and paralegals, who begin working on your case the minute after you decide to hire us. As the first step, our lawyers ensure that no derogatory information has been given or leaked to the opposing side. Even if you provided a statement or information, our skilled lawyers will explore the ways to formally retract or nullify the information obtained by the opposing side prior to retaining counsel.
2) Investigate and timely secure the evidence and identify potential witnesses.
In cases involving injuries and damages to the vehicles involved, it is imperative to secure the evidence and identify witnesses as soon as possible. Every minute counts! Insurance companies dream that the claimants fail to timely secure the evidence or identify witnesses supporting their claim. It is important to secure the evidence, take photographs, and obtain statements from all potential witnesses as soon as possible, before their recollections fade.
Our team of professionals takes immediate action to identify witnesses and secure evidence, which may be crucial to prove the liability and the extent of the injuries suffered by our client. Our attorneys and investigative team often visit the sites of the accident to take photographs, search for evidence and question potential witnesses. We send spoliation notices to all parties who may hold anything that can be used as evidence in the case. For example, it may be imperative to send notices to the EMS and Police Department to preserve 911 call recording as well as any notes or photographs that the officers may have taken at the scene of the accident. It may also be necessary to notify the insurance company and the salvage yard of intent to examine the negligent driver’s vehicle. Although the actual records are obtained through court subpoenas in the course of litigation, it is important to notify the custodians to preserve such records. The subpoenas may take a long time and, unless a spoliation notice is duly provided, there may be no duty on the holder’s part to preserve the evidence that may end up being crucial for the outcome of the case.
3) Determine all available insurance policies and coverage available.
Your insurance policy may include Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Insurance (UIM / UMI), which can have additional insurance coverage available to you from the third party. If UIM/UMI coverage exceeds the negligent driver’s liability insurance policy, then you have additional insurance coverage available. In that case, the UIM / UMI carrier steps into the shoes of the uninsured or underinsured party (the negligent driver) and provides you additional coverage. However, it is important to notify the UIM/UMI carrier as soon as possible to avoid denial of excess coverage. A special notification procedure must be followed in a case involving a lawsuit. Determining the amount of UIM / UMI insurance available may get tricky, if you have multiple cars or multiple insured members in your household, of if you were a passenger in another car, which also had UIM / UMI insurance.
Your insurance policy may also contain Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage. This excellent coverage provides additional coverage to you for your medical bills and lost wages. Additionally, if you have a medical insurance, in Virginia, you may legally recover triple amount of your medical bills and retain the 2/3rd of the amount for yourself, in addition to the compensation for your other damages. Determining the amount of PIP / MedPay available may vary depending on the number of vehicles in the household and other factors.
The driver of the vehicle, which caused the accident, may also have an additional excess liability coverage, which is called “Umbrella Policy.” There are certain and often complicated ways to determine the availability of Umbrella Policy. This may involve submitting a statutory demand for disclosure to the insurance company, submitting interrogatories to the defense in litigated cases, or exploring other ways to determine all policies available to the negligent driver. Furthermore, if the driver of the vehicle, which caused the accident, was driving someone else’s car, that driver may have a policy of his own, with possible umbrella coverage, all of which would stack up on top of the third party liability coverage of the vehicle which caused the accident.
There may be additional sources of recovery, such as an employer’s liability insurance policy, liability based on principal / agent theory, additional coverage for lost wages through Worker’s Compensation Insurance, or policies through third party providers such as credit companies, enrolled programs, sponsoring organizations and so on.
Determining all available insurance policies and additional coverage is undisputedly one of the most complicated areas of the personal injury law. Our team of experienced personal injury lawyers thoroughly investigates the availability of all of the above policies and utilize every possible coverage that can maximize the net pay to our clients.
4) Ensure adequate notices to all insurance companies and parties involved.
This step ensures that all insurance companies and coverage providers are duly notified and that they will not be able to deny any available coverage claiming a lack of notice. This includes timely filing claims, notifying insurance carriers, which can have additional insurance coverage available on behalf of the third party, providing letters of representation and spoliation letters to secure the evidence. If this is not done timely, there is a risk of coverage denial.
5) Communicate and work closely with the client’s treating doctors, physicians, and other medical providers to ensure adequate treatment, medical reports and detailed diagnosis of the client’s injuries.
A substantial part of attorney’s work on a personal injury case involves collaborating and dealing with medical providers, doctors, and their support staff. A competent personal injury lawyer and their paralegals must have excellent communication skills and ability to deal and collaborate with doctors and physicians who treated the injured client. Personal injury lawyers and paralegals must also have skills in understanding the medical records and radiology reports, identifying the injuries detected by the medical providers, and communicating with the medical staff to obtain further information.
Our team of professionals maintains constant contacts with the client’s treating physicians and their staff members, providing letters of protection and lien agreements to ensure that our clients receive treatment even if they do not have medical or health insurance coverage.
6) Collaborate with team of expert witnesses, investigators, and litigation support specialists.
A good personal injury lawyer should have a network of excellent medical experts, which can independently evaluate the injuries, consult the lawyer on all medical aspects, and testify as needed to explain and illustrate the client’s injuries to the opposing side, jury, and judge. A testimony of independent medical experts serves an important role in increasing the amount of jury award or settlement. In handling personal injury cases for our clients, I.S. Law Firm works closely with a team of professional experts, investigators, court reporters, interpreters, skip tracers, and litigation support specialists. This ensures speediest and maximum monetary compensation to our clients.
Our team of attorneys and support staff professionally handles every step described above to ensure that you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.
I.S. Law Firm always offers free in-person or telephone consultations for injured people, where you can speak directly to an experienced attorney. If you have been injured in an accident, you owe it to yourself to at least talk to a great attorney, and find out what options you have. Frankly, there are many great lawyers in our area who will offer you similar services. And even if you choose not to hire our team, we believe that all injured people – moreover, our legal system and society as a whole – directly benefit when lawyers fight for their client’s rights with diligence and professionalism.
If you have been hurt because of someone else’s negligence, you have the right to file for financial compensation. Our attorneys are committed to securing the money you deserve for your injuries. We can achieve maximum results if you contact us immediately after your accident. If you have suffered injury from a car accident, take the first step to protect your legal rights–call I. S. Law Firm today for a free consultation.
I.S. Law Firm will represent you on a contingency basis—that means you pay no legal fees until we recover money for you. For a free initial consultation and case evaluation, please contact us: +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].