If you or someone you love were involved in a trucking accident, contact one of the truck accident attorneys at Burg Simpson for a free consultation.

Accidents involving semi-trucks or tractor-trailers can have devastating effects on everyone involved. The sheer size and weight of a semi-truck, combined with the high speeds traveled, can cause catastrophic damage to both property and the people at the scene. When truck accidents happen, the claim you must file to receive compensation for your injuries is sometimes more complicated than a regular car accident, because you may have multiple parties that can be held liable, ranging from the truck driver, to the truck company, and even manufacturers of the truck or parts on the truck.

Claims Against Trucking Companies

In 2015, 415,000 large-truck collisions resulted in nearly 4000 fatalities and 83,000 injuries. This means that many claims were filed in regard to these accidents.

The claims process is fairly simple if you are in a car accident with a typical motor vehicle. You take down the information of the driver and depending on who is at fault, you will file your claim with their insurance company. This is often all you need to do to get the compensation to which you are entitled. If there are severe injuries, you may need to seek legal representation and file a civil lawsuit, but even that is a simpler process when the motor vehicles involved are privately owned cars rather than large, commercial trucks.

An accident involving a semi-truck is more complicated as the fault may not lie with the driver of the truck, but with the company they work for. The accident may have happened due to poor cargo loading, or a defect within the truck itself. Often, the injured person in one of these accidents must file claims with numerous parties, and it can be difficult to figure out where to begin. A trucking accident attorney from Burg Simpson can help.

Trucking companies are often large national corporations with entire departments of lawyers to represent them in situations like these. It is common for these companies to send teams out immediately following an accident to gather evidence and build a defense against the victims of the accident. The insurance companies covering these corporations also work to minimize the accident by offering those injured minimal settlements or attempting to deny the liability of their drivers altogether. If you are going up against a trucking company and their team of lawyers, you will want stellar representation on your side. Call Burg Simpson as soon as possible so we can protect your rights and ensure you do not accept less than what you are legally entitled to following an accident.

Understanding Multi-Party Liability

Accidents involving semi-trucks are complicated because more than one party can be found liable for the crash. Multi-party liability can make it more complex, determining who is responsible for the accident and to what degree.

The truck driver may be liable due to negligent or reckless driving. If the driver is employed by a trucking company, the driver's employer may also be liable if they failed to train their driver properly or if they coerced their driver into bending federal regulations. A manufacturer may be liable if the accident was caused by a defective product within the truck.

Determining multi-party liability requires an investigation of the accident, and can be a lengthy, complicated process. Recovering when you have been injured should be your main concern, so it’s best to get legal representation to handle your case for you so you can do just that. Burg Simpson can take on the investigative process so you can just focus on moving forward with your life.

How Trucking Companies Can Be Held Liable

Because of a legal doctrine known as Respondeat Superior, in the event of an accident involving a semi-truck, a driver's employer is legally responsible for wrongful acts committed by the driver that resulted in the accident.

The law was created based on the concept that an employer gains benefits from the work of their employers, and especially when large corporations are concerned, employers have the financial means to compensate injured victims of accidents that happen due to their employee's actions.

Additionally, both trucking companies and truck drivers must follow strict rules regarding how many hours a driver can be behind the wheel in a day, the size and weight of cargo loads, and truck maintenance requirements. When drivers or trucking companies break these rules hoping for a larger profit, accidents are more likely to happen.

If a trucking company has neglected to maintain their trucks properly, or if they coerce drivers to travel longer than the legal maximum, they can and should be held liable for an accident caused by a driver.

How Manufacturers Can Be Held Liable

Truck accidents can happen for many reasons, but when the accident is caused by a faulty truck component, then the manufacturer of the component may be liable for the crash. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring their products are safe for use, and if they fail at meeting this obligation, it often has dangerous and even deadly consequences.

Defective products result from inadequate testing, lack of design standards, or negligent production practices. There are many components that go into a semi-truck; some of the more common defects that are seen in truck accidents are listed below.

Defective Products that Cause Truck Accidents

  • Brakes: A multi-ton vehicle has to have working brakes. When a manufacturer defect causes brake failure, truck drivers can lose control of their vehicle and fail to stop, causing a collision.
  • Tires: A tire blowout, especially at interstate speeds, is a recipe for disaster. Drivers will likely not be able to control their vehicles, which can easily cause a collision along a busy highway.
  • Steering or suspension: When a truck loses steering or suspension, the driver might not be able to avoid potential dangers on the road.
  • Electrical systems: A failure in the electrical system can cause various problems with a vehicle, including knocking out a truck's brakes or steering.

If any of these components fail, an investigation will have to be done to determine whether the failure was caused by a manufacturer defect or the neglect of proper maintenance. This can affect who is liable for the accident.

What Evidence is Used to Prove a Manufacturing Company is Liable?

It can be more challenging to file a claim against a manufacturer than it is to file against a driver or a trucking company. Burg Simpson will work with you to gather the following types of evidence for your claim:

  • Inspection reports: An inspection report can provide information about the truck's condition and any defects that might have been found.
  • Maintenance records: A copy of the maintenance records can establish whether or not the trucking company followed the proper maintenance requirements and addressed any problems or defects found.
  • Black box data: Many commercial trucks are equipped with a data recorder that can provide important information, including the truck's speed, braking, and other factors leading up to the accident.
  • Expert testimony: Speaking with experts like engineers, accident reconstruction specialists, and other industry professionals can help us piece together what went wrong to accurately pinpoint what kind of defect likely caused the accident.
  • Manufacturing records: These can help provide information about the manufacturing process and whether any design flaws were detected in the truck.

Having this information can make or break a claim against a manufacturing company. Speak with your attorney to learn more your options for a successful case.

Steps in a Truck Accident Claim

Filing a trucking accident claim can be a bit of an ordeal. Generally, the process will involve all of the following important steps:

Investigate the Accident

The first step is to investigate the accident, and this should be done as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the more difficult it can be to retrieve accurate accounts of what happened. An attorney from Burg Simpson will go to the scene and conduct the investigation so you can focus on your own well-being. We will examine the scene to see if we can determine what happened based on skid marks, debris, or any property damage.

The investigation may also include:

  • Checking stoplight and traffic patterns
  • Taking note of any nearby road signs
  • Gathering eyewitness testimonies
  • Examining traffic cameras or security footage
  • Obtaining photos and videos of the accident scene
  • Gathering cell phone records to see if the accident could have been a result of distracted driving
  • Obtaining drivers logs and truck maintenance records
  • Examining shipping manifests

Determine What Caused the Accident

After analyzing the evidence from the initial investigation, our attorneys can then determine who or what caused the accident. Generally, this is due to driver negligence, but other factors can come into play. The accident could have been due to a truck defect or a loading error; in these cases, the trucking company or manufacturer may also be at fault.

Determine What Company or Companies are Liable

Once your attorney determines what caused the accident, they can then determine who is liable. Some examples of liability are as follows:

  • If the truck driver caused the accident, then the trucking company could be held liable.
  • If the truck accident was caused by a truck defect, then a truck's manufacturer or the manufacturer of the defective part could be held liable.
  • If the accident happened due to a cargo spill, then the trucking or shipping company could be liable for the crash.
  • If poor truck maintenance caused the accident, then the trucking company or the maintenance facility responsible for the truck could be liable.
  • If the accident was caused by another driver, then that driver could be held liable for the crash.

It is common for trucking accidents to involve more than one liable party. Your attorney can help determine which parties to file a claim against.

Calculate Truck Accident Damages

Personal injury damages come in two forms: economic and non-economic. Economic damages include things like medical bills and lost wages. Your attorney can also help you calculate the cost of other damages, such as lost earning potential or costs of long-term care for your injuries.

Non-economic damages can be a little more challenging to calculate, but generally involve determining fair compensation for your pain and suffering. Your lawyer can help you come up with an appropriate compensation amount so that you won't be at risk of accepting less than what you need from an insurance company.

File Your Truck Accident Claim

Once we have determined who to file the claims with (it could be more than one party) and how much compensation is fair for your injuries, it is then time to file the claim with the at-fault party's insurance company.

Negotiate for a Settlement

Most truck accident claims are resolved through a settlement outside of court. The negotiations can take time, especially if multiple parties are involved. Your personal injury attorney at Burg Simpson will negotiate on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.

File a Lawsuit

If the insurance companies refuse to offer a fair settlement, your truck accident attorney may advise you to file a civil claim within the court. Burg Simpson will prepare your case and represent your interests in the courtroom. The defendants may at this point be more inclined to settle with you, but if not, our attorneys have no problem taking your case to trial.

Statute of Limitations

Remember that you do not have an indefinite amount of time to file your personal injury claim. The statute of limitations varies by state but tends to be between 1-5 years from the time of the accident. Since filing a claim can take time, it is recommended that you begin the claims process as soon as possible so you don't miss out on receiving the compensation you need. The sooner you file, the sooner we can reach a settlement.

Contact a Truck Accident Attorney

Accidents involving semi-trucks happen every day. This can be due to driver error, mechanical failures, environmental factors, and many other reasons. Filing a claim against a trucking company or manufacturer can be difficult to navigate if you've never had to do it before. It can be easy to become overwhelmed by the process or unknowingly accept less than what you deserve in a settlement.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a semi-truck accident, you may be facing severe injuries, lost wages, and a mountain of medical bills. You may not know how to advocate for yourself or your loved ones when it comes to facing a large trucking company or their manufacturers.

Burg Simpson has years of experience working cases involving truck drivers and the companies they work for. We can advocate for you and help you receive the justice you deserve. For a free case review, give us a call at 888-895-2080. We will work with you so that you can finally take the first step toward recovery.
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