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Injured in a Trucking Accident? Contact Wettermark Keith's Best Truck Accident Lawyers to Uphold Your Rights
If you’ve ever driven a car or motorcycle on the freeway, you’ve almost certainly felt the raw, thunderous power of a massive commercial truck roaring by in the lane next to you. You’ve probably felt the surge of adrenaline as you sped up to pass it, keenly aware of its blind spots and the dangers of lingering there too long. Our healthy respect for the sheer size and momentum of these leviathans allows us to share the road with them in relative safety - most of the time.
As skilled professionals, truck drivers are typically trained and precise, navigating the nation's highways and interstates to keep our economy functioning. Unfortunately, truck drivers are also forced to contend with the relentless pressure of delivery schedules and the fatigue that sneaks in as a result, despite regulations aiming to keep it at bay. Furthermore, despite their training, truck drivers aren’t immune to negligent behavior. These factors, paired with the sheer size and strength of a truck, can lead to deadly, catastrophic accidents.
We realize that if you have survived a collision with a truck, you rarely forget the sounds and feelings you experienced - the smell of burning rubber, the disorienting spin of your vehicle, or the gut-wrenching crunch of metal on metal. As a survivor, you may have been left with severe injuries that make navigating the aftermath of your accident a challenging, tumultuous journey. It’s difficult enough to recover from a truck accident without stressing over medical bills, lost wages, and negotiations with insurance companies. Thankfully, you don't have to face it alone. Our experienced, compassionate truck accident lawyers will support you every step of the way, advocating both over the phone and in the courtroom for your rights to the compensation you deserve. While you focus on recovery, our lawyers will handle the rest.
Understanding Truck Accidents
The $700 billion-dollar trucking industry plays an integral role in the U.S economy, facilitating the transport of everything from food and medication to online orders across states and cities throughout the country. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, 13 million trucks are currently operating in the United States. Given the sheer number of trucks and commercial vehicles on the road, collisions are unfortunately common - one person is injured or killed every 16 minutes in a truck crash. Each year, there are 4,600 fatal accidents and 182,000 injuries involving bus and truck drivers. Due to the size and weight of commercial trucks - up to 80,000 pounds fully loaded - these collisions often have far-reaching effects, with the majority of fatal truck crashes involving multiple vehicles.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
Truck accidents are tragic events that cause substantial harm, disruption, and loss to the few who survive them. Victims of these accidents often feel the consequences for a lifetime, dealing with devastating physical injuries, emotional trauma, and long-term financial uncertainty.
But what leads to a truck accident? Read below:
1. Driver Fatigue:
Operating a truck is demanding work, often involving long, grueling hours on the road. Despite regulations limiting the hours a truck driver can work, fatigue can set in, blurring focus and slowing reaction times. This situation can lead to mistakes that may result in an accident. Efforts to combat fatigue include adhering strictly to Hours of Service regulations, taking regular breaks, and ensuring proper rest before starting a trip.
2. Mechanical Failure:
Trucks are complex machines that require regular maintenance to function safely. Failure to properly maintain a truck can lead to mechanical issues such as brake failure, tire blowouts, or engine troubles, all of which can cause accidents. Regular inspections, prompt repairs, and strict adherence to maintenance schedules can help prevent a mechanical failure-related accident.
3. Distracted Driving:
Distracted driving is a leading cause of all motor vehicle accidents, including trucking accidents. Distractions can take many forms, from using a cellphone, eating, adjusting the radio, to even daydreaming. When a driver's attention is diverted from the road, even for a few seconds, the risk of an accident increases significantly. Implementing and enforcing strict policies against distracted driving can mitigate this risk.
4. Improper Loading:
A truck's load must be properly secured and evenly distributed. Improper loading can cause cargo to shift during transit, which can unbalance the truck and lead to a loss of control or even a rollover accident. Ensuring that cargo is correctly and securely loaded is an important step in preventing an accident.
5. Speeding and Aggressive Driving:
The pressure to meet tight delivery schedules can sometimes lead truck drivers to speed or engage in aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, making unsafe lane changes, or not yielding the right of way. These behaviors can increase the risk of an accident. Encouraging safe, defensive driving and realistic scheduling can help combat this issue.
6. Inadequate Training:
Driving a truck safely requires specialized skills and knowledge. Inadequate training can leave drivers ill-prepared to handle challenging road conditions or unexpected situations. This lack of preparedness can result in a devastating accident.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Truck accidents, due to their immense force and magnitude, can result in severe, life-altering injuries for any occupants of involved cars. Common injuries from truck accidents range from minor cuts and bruises to severe injuries like broken bones, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries, and even death. The severity of these injuries can be overwhelming and life-altering, demanding immediate and sometimes lifelong medical attention. The victims of these accidents must often contend with not only physical pain and disability, but also the emotional and financial ramifications that follow.
Below are some of the most common truck accident injuries:
1. Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs):
In the violent chaos of a truck accident, victims often suffer blows to the head. This can result in injuries ranging from mild concussions to severe brain damage. Symptoms may include headaches, confusion, dizziness, and in severe cases, loss of consciousness or permanent cognitive impairment. Medical intervention and rehabilitation for TBI can be long-term and costly.
2. Spinal Cord Injuries:
The massive impact of a truck collision can result in injuries to the spinal cord. These can lead to partial or total paralysis, chronic pain, or other neurological and sensory impairments. Victims of spinal cord injuries often face long rehabilitation periods and may require assistive devices like wheelchairs for mobility.
3. Broken Bones:
Due to the sheer force involved in truck accidents, victims often suffer from broken or fractured bones. These can range from simple fractures that may heal within weeks, to complex ones that require surgery and prolonged physical therapy. In some cases, victims might have to live with permanent physical limitations.
4. Internal Injuries:
The force of a truck accident can cause drivers to sustain internal injuries, which are often not immediately visible but can be life-threatening. These can include damage to organs, internal bleeding, or internal bruising. Internal injuries always require immediate medical attention.
5. Lacerations and Burns:
A truck wreck can cause victims to suffer deep cuts or burns, leading to significant blood loss, infection, and disfigurement. Burn injuries may also require specialized treatment such as skin grafts.
6. Psychological Trauma:
While not a physical injury, the psychological trauma resulting from an accident with a truck or commercial vehicle can be just as debilitating. Victims may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression. These mental health issues can significantly impact a victim's quality of life and may require long-term therapy and treatment.
Each of these injuries can drastically change a victim's life and requires prompt, comprehensive medical care. If you have suffered one of the truck accident injuries above, contact Wettermark Keith. Our team is available 24/7 at (877) 715-9100.
How Can Truck Accidents Be Prevented?
The trauma that follows a disaster is often debilitating. Depression, confusion, and anxiety are common symptoms that plague our clients. PTSD flashbacks that keep you up at night may need extensive and expensive therapy. When you aren’t at fault, the physical, psychological and financial burdens of an injury can be unjustly heavy - you do not have to shoulder them alone.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for the following:
1. Respect the Truck's Space:
Trucks are substantially larger and heavier than cars and therefore require more space to maneuver. As a car driver, it's crucial to respect this space, particularly when changing lanes or turning. Cutting off a truck or moving into its lane abruptly can cause a truck driver to brake or swerve unexpectedly, potentially resulting in a collision.
2. Stay Out of Blind Spots:
Large trucks have significantly larger blind spots than cars, often on both sides, the rear, and even directly in front of the cab. Spending as little time as possible in these blind spots can reduce the risk of accidents. If you can't see the truck driver in their side mirror, it's likely they can't see you either.
3. Anticipate Wide Turns:
Trucks tend to make wide turns, especially to the right. If a truck has its blinker on, give it plenty of room to complete its turn. Attempting to squeeze by or get ahead of a turning truck can lead to a horrific accident.
4. Maintain a Safe Following Distance:
A safe following distance allows ample time to react if a truck makes a sudden stop or turn. The recommended distance is about 20-25 car lengths. Tailgating a truck is particularly dangerous, as the truck driver may not even know you’re there.
5. Exercise Patience:
Trucks move more slowly than cars, especially when climbing hills or starting from a stop. Be patient, and never attempt to pass a truck in a risky situation like a curve or an intersection. Always pass a truck quickly, but safely and legally.
6. Report Dangerous Driving:
If you see a truck driver behaving recklessly or aggressively, report them. Most trucks have a sticker with a phone number to call for reporting unsafe driving. By reporting, you might be preventing a future accident.
By employing these strategies, you can help ensure your own safety, as well as the safety of others on the road. However, even the most cautious drivers may not be able to prevent an accident. If you find yourself involved in a truck accident, our lawyers are fully prepared to help you in any way possible.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
To put it lightly, a truck accident can be a disorienting, frightening event. In the immediate aftermath of a severe collision with a truck, victims often struggle to think clearly or decide what to do next. However, knowing the appropriate steps to take after your truck accident can greatly influence the outcome of any subsequent legal or insurance proceedings, and more importantly, can ensure your physical and emotional wellbeing. Read below for the steps our accident lawyers recommend you take immediately after an trucking accident:
1. Prioritize Your Safety - Call 911:
The immediate aftermath of a truck crash can be chaotic. If possible, move to a safe location out of traffic to avoid another accident. Then, call 911, even if the accident seems minor. Responding officers will document the scene and create a police report, which can be valuable during legal proceedings or insurance claims.
2. Seek Medical Attention:
Paramedics will likely arrive quickly to the scene of the accident - let them know of any physical pain you feel. Even if you think your injury (or injuries) is minor, seek immediate medical attention, because they may not be. An injury doesn’t always manifest symptoms right away (such as internal bleeding or a traumatic brain injury), and adrenaline is excellent at masking pain. Having a medical professional examine you both ensures your injury is treated promptly and establishes a record of any injury you sustained during the accident.
3. Document the Scene:
If you are physically able, take photographs of the scene of the accident, including the damage to your vehicle, the truck involved, any visible injuries, and the surrounding area. This evidence can provide a more accurate representation of the incident for your lawyer, the court, or your insurance company.
4. Exchange Information:
Exchange information with the truck driver involved in the accident. This should include their name, contact information, insurance details, and any identifying information about the truck - such as the license plate number and trucking company name.
5. Speak to Witnesses:
If there are any witnesses to the accident, obtain their contact information. Witness accounts can provide a third-party perspective of the incident and may be useful in supporting your case later on.
6. Notify Your Insurance Company:
Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide factual information, but remember to avoid speculating about the causes of the accident or admitting fault.
7. Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer:
As soon as you are able, consult with a lawyer who specializes in truck accidents. Our truck accident lawyers understand the complex nature of a truck accident and can guide you through the process of filing a claim or lawsuit. Our experienced lawyers will always treat you like a person - never a case. Our attorneys will tirelessly protect your rights and ensure you get the compensation you deserve.
Complex Regulations: The Role of Accident and Injury Law in Your Case
Regulatory trucking laws can make pursuing a truck accident case incredibly complex. Having a truck accident attorney on your side to understand and interpret trucking laws can make or break your truck accident case. Our lawyers deeply understand the role that state accident laws and trucking regulations play in truck accident cases. This knowledge can help you navigate the legal process far more effectively.
Trucks are subject to an enormous number of federal and state regulations, enforced by entities such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT). These rules cover truck maintenance, driver qualifications, hours of service, and cargo securement, and more. If one of these rules is violated by a driver, the violation can serve as evidence of negligence in a truck accident case.
The cornerstone of any personal injury case, including truck accidents, is establishing negligence. To succeed in a truck accident claim, you must prove that the truck driver or trucking company was negligent and that this negligence directly caused your injuries. This might involve demonstrating that the driver was fatigued, distracted, or that the trucking company failed to maintain their truck properly, leading to an accident.
Understanding how these laws apply in your state can significantly impact the outcome of your case. Many states - including Tennessee, and Florida - follow the principle of “comparative negligence” (otherwise known as “comparative fault”) to different extents. At its core, comparative negligence means that even if you were partially at fault for the accident, you are still eligible to still recover damages. The total amount awarded will be reduced by your percentage of fault. In some states, such as Florida, a "pure comparative negligence" rule applies. This means that the amount of compensation you're entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident, regardless of how much at fault you were.
Only four U.S. states, specifically Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, follow the harsher doctrine of "contributory negligence." In Alabama, if a plaintiff is found to be even slightly at fault (1% or more), they are barred from recovering any damages. This doctrine can present a significant challenge in personal injury claim settlements - in light of this, it’s vital that you have a competent attorney on your side to craft your defense and heighten your likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Most states also have caps on certain types of damages in personal injury cases, such as pain and suffering or punitive damages. Furthermore, statutes of limitations dictate the timeframe within which you must file a claim following an accident. Failing to file within this period could bar you from recovering any damages for a truck accident injury. The statute of limitations for truck accidents vary by state. In Alabama and Florida, the statute of limitations is two years, while in Tennessee the statute of limitations is one year.
Insurance law plays a significant role in truck accident cases. Large trucking companies typically have substantial insurance policies, and dealing with these companies can be a complex and frustrating process. Our experienced truck accident attorneys can advocate on your behalf, dealing with the insurance companies and fighting to get you the compensation you deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. One of the primary roles of truck accident attorneys is to handle all negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf. Dealing with insurance companies can be complicated and stressful, especially when you're trying to recover from your injuries. Insurance adjusters are trained to minimize the company's payouts, and they may use tactics designed to reduce or deny your claim.
Wettermark Keith truck accident attorneys know how to effectively communicate with insurance companies after an accident. They understand the strategies insurers use and can counter them to ensure you get the fair compensation you deserve. They'll present a compelling case backed by evidence from the accident and a clear account of your injuries and damages.
At Wettermark Keith, our top truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don't pay any legal fees upfront or out of pocket - instead, your truck accident lawyer will take a percentage of the compensation you receive if and when they win your case. If our attorneys don’t win, our clients owe nothing for their legal services.
Hit-and-runs can be particularly challenging since the at-fault party has left the scene of the accident. However, our experienced truck accident lawyers have defined strategies for investigating these cases.
We start by gathering all available evidence from the accident scene, including any physical debris, skid marks, damage to surrounding objects, and photographs or videos if available. We also collect statements from any witnesses who may have seen the truck crash. Next, we work with law enforcement officials - who are likely conducting their own investigation into the hit-and-run. They might find surveillance footage that captured the incident or the fleeing truck, or they might be able to track down the truck driver based on information like a license plate number or vehicle description.
Finally, even if the truck driver can't be located, you may still be able to receive compensation through your own insurance policy's uninsured motorist coverage. Our attorneys can guide you through this process.
To prove the truck driver was at fault, your lawyer will gather and analyze all evidence related to your accident. This might include:
- Police reports - these often contain the responding officer's initial determination of fault.
- Witness statements - witnesses can corroborate your account of the incident and help establish who was at fault.
- Accident reconstruction - the experts in our network can recreate the accident scene to establish how the collision occurred.
- Truck data - modern trucks often have electronic data recorders ("black boxes") that can provide crucial information about the truck's speed, braking, and other details at the time of the accident. Trucks often have cameras in them recording what is ahead and what is behind.
- Driver logs and employment records - these can show if the truck driver violated any regulations, such as those governing rest periods, which could contribute to the accident.
With this evidence, your truck accident lawyer can build a strong case proving the truck driver was at fault.
The Police Officer
At the crash site, the assigned police officer carries out an initial investigation. Their task is to assess the situation, issue necessary citations based on their findings, and compile a report that includes their interpretation of fault. The officer's viewpoint, regardless of the issuance of citations, can be influential in subsequent investigations.
The Insurance Company
Following the incident, each insurance company involved conducts its own comprehensive examination of the event. These companies evaluate the details of the accident and any available evidence to make an independent decision about who is liable for the accident.
When liability disputes persist unresolved, a judge's ruling can serve as a decisive factor. Under circumstances like a Motion for Summary Judgment concerning liability or cases in courts of limited jurisdiction—such as the General Sessions Court in Tennessee or the Magistrate Court in Georgia—the judge's verdict is often final.
In the absence of a settlement agreement or a conclusive legal decision, the responsibility of determining liability may ultimately fall on a jury. Barring a few exceptions, the decisions and opinions previously established by police, insurance companies, or even the court hold no definitive value unless validated by a jury. A jury's verdict is deemed the final judgment regarding fault and liability, as overturning a jury's decision is extremely challenging.
In these complex situations, it's important to seek guidance from a seasoned legal professional, well-versed in dealing with insurance, law enforcement, and court proceedings. They can conduct an independent liability evaluation and help navigate this intricate legal process, increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
After a truck accident, it’s important to remember your rights. You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries, the right to legal representation, and the right to negotiate or refuse settlement offers.
Truck accident attorneys can protect your rights in multiple ways. They can handle communications with insurance companies, who may try to pressure you into accepting a low settlement or make statements that could hurt your case. They can also advise you on the best course of action based on your specific circumstances, so you don't inadvertently harm your own claim. Most importantly, if your rights are being disregarded or violated, our truck accident lawyers can take legal action to correct the situation and ensure your rights are upheld. Whether that means negotiating with an insurer, representing you in court, or appealing a decision, our truck accident lawyers will always advocate for your rights.
Life After a Truck Accident: How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help
A trucking accident can be one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through. Physically, a collision with a truck can lead to serious injuries - such as broken bones, internal bleeding , and traumatic brain injuries - that require extensive medical care, surgeries, and long-term therapy. The recovery process after an accident can be painful and slow, requiring time off work to heal, or even a career change due to new physical limitations.
While recovering physically may be the immediate priority, it is equally crucial to address the emotional and financial ramifications of a trucking accident. Emotionally, an accident with a semi or commercial truck can be overwhelming. Victims often experience anxiety, PTSD, depression, and a lingering fear of driving or being on the road. These emotional scars can last long after the physical injuries have healed. From a financial standpoint, a trucking accident can put significant strain on victims and their families. Medical bills can pile up, especially if you lack adequate health insurance. Lost wages due to time off work, as well as the potential of reduced earning capacity in the future, can significantly worsen financial stress. It's during times like these that our trucking accident lawyers can make an enormous positive difference in your stress levels, quality of life, and long-term financial security.
Truck wreck cases are often unique due to the size and nature of the vehicles involved, as well as the regulations they’re governed by. The best truck accident attorneys understand the intricacies of trucking law, legal strategy, insurance claims, and how to fight for their clients' rights to ensure maximum compensation. Our firm’s experienced lawyers are well-versed in this complex web of laws and regulations surrounding truck wrecks and have both the skills and knowledge to handle even the most complex accident cases.
Immediately after an accident, insurance companies may attempt to reach out to you. While they may appear concerned or willing to help, it's important to remember that their main goal is to deny or reduce the compensation you're entitled by law to receive. Insurance companies are notorious for exploiting any loopholes to minimize payout, including shifting blame, downplaying injuries, or twisting your statements. These strategies can be subtle, manipulative, and particularly challenging for victims already dealing with the aftermath of a truck crash. Our trucking accident attorneys can protect you from bad-faith insurance tactics. Our lawyers will always ensure you are treated fairly and receive the compensation you deserve.
Benefits of Truck Accident Lawyers
1. Expertise in Truck Laws and Regulations
Our truck accident lawyers specialize in the complex web of federal and state regulations that govern the trucking industry. Trucking laws can be intricate and difficult to understand without legal experience. Thankfully, our lawyers have the expertise to both navigate these regulations and utilize them to build a strong case. After a close investigation, our attorneys can determine whether any laws were violated at the time of the accident, such as overloading, driver fatigue due to excess hours on the road, or inadequate truck maintenance.
2. Negotiation with Insurance Companies
Insurance companies can often be challenging to deal with following a truck accident. Their primary goal is to limit the amount they pay out, so they might employ tactics that aim to minimize the compensation you receive. Our lawyers have long experience with these strategies and can negotiate effectively on your behalf to prevent insurance adjusters from exploiting any loopholes to reduce your settlement.
3. Access to Essential Resources
Investigating a truck accident can be a resource-intensive process. It may involve reconstructing the accident scene, analyzing logbooks and company records, interviewing witnesses, and consulting with experts. Our lawyers have access to these resources and know how to use them effectively and strategically to determine fault and build a strong case for your compensation.
4. Expert Representation
Should your case proceed to trial, our attorneys will not hesitate to represent you in court. Your lawyer will prepare and present compelling arguments, cross-examine witnesses, and challenge the evidence presented by the defense. Their expert representation can significantly improve your chances of a favorable verdict.
5. Peace of Mind:
Dealing with a truck wreck can be emotionally draining and stressful, especially when you’re dealing with physical injuries. Hiring one of our lawyers can alleviate much of this stress. Our injury attorneys will handle all the legal aspects on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
Expert Truck Accident Lawyers: Defending Your Rights and Securing Justice
Our attorneys, driven by the core principles of compassion, integrity, and dedication, will represent your case in court, gather necessary evidence, negotiate with insurance companies (and stand up to them when warranted), and advocate for your rights to fair compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and emotional suffering after a trucking accident. Understanding the profound physical, emotional, and financial impact that a severe accident can have on a victim and their family, our lawyers offer empathetic, comprehensive legal support to everyone - not just the large, profitable cases. We don't see you as a case number - we see you as an individual.
Wettermark Keith: Setting the Standard in Truck Accident Cases
In the realm of truck accident litigation, Wettermark Keith sets the benchmark for care, empathy, and top service to accident survivors. Over the years, our experienced injury lawyers have championed the cases of thousands of individuals who have fallen victim to truck wrecks, forging a reputation as formidable advocates with a deep-rooted commitment to justice. Our lawyers offer free consultations for any accident victims who choose to call us. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in a trucking accident, don’t wait – contact our dedicated legal team today through our firm website, or by calling (877) 715-9300.
Wettermark Keith, with offices located throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Florida, has an excellent reputation as one of the most accomplished personal injury firms in the country. Our reach is not only regional but includes a diverse range of practice areas, including personal injury cases, auto wrecks, trucking wrecks, medical malpractice, on-the-job injuries, social security disability, and veterans’ disability claims. At Wettermark Keith, we believe in taking cases personally. The purpose of our law firm is to practice with care and compassion - to tell our client’s stories and make their voices heard.
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