Were you involved in a truck accident causing serious injury? Check out these 11 truck accident tips, then call our attorneys today.
Commercial Truck Accidents
When we get clients calling us about commercial truck accidents, the important thing to know is that there are variables that are much different with these types of cases. There are logbook requirements, documentation the drivers are required to prepare and provide, limitations set by both the federal and state government that also require drivers to report how long they are on the road, how many days in a row they’ve been driving, and weigh ins. They’re required to do safety inspections that are also written and documented that they must produce.
When you’re involved in a big truck accident, they typically involve insurance policies that are much bigger, as required by federal and state law. Also, there could be a plethora of knowledge that we can get through discovery that would not be available in a traditional car versus car accident.
Car Accident Vs. Truck Accident
As a dedicated Buffalo Car Accident Attorney, clients often ask about the differences in an auto accident and a truck accident.
- When a potential client has been injured in an accident where the other vehicle is a tractor-trailer, their claim addresses several unique components not included in a typical two-car accident.
- The Department of Transportation may conduct the initial investigation and examine the driver’s logbooks to ensure their accuracy. They also do a brake inspection.
- A tractor-trailer driver may receive traffic tickets a regular car driver would never see. The truck’s load might be improperly balanced – or may have shifted. The driver’s CDL may be outdated, or he may have been driving for too many hours in a row.
- Our team of lawyers is well versed in tractor-trailer accidents, from initial investigation through filing of all documentation created based upon the investigations of others.
Injured Driving a Tractor Trailer Truck
On many occasions, we’re called by professional drivers who have been involved in accidents while driving tractor trailers. In that circumstance, a couple of things come into play. If that driver is an employee of a business, they’re covered by worker’s compensation first and foremost, and they will provide the traditional no-fault benefits. An independent driver may or may not have trade worker’s compensation because, if the entity for which that driver works is a sole proprietorship, New York does not traditionally require them to carry comp; however, they would look to the no-fault carrier for the vehicle in which they were injured to provide those benefits.
Once the initial package of benefits that is properly available to them is established, the case is dealt with much like any other, except that truck drivers are required to do certain additional things, such as: undergo periodic inspections, keep log books, and ensure that their load is properly secured. We work to make sure our own client isn’t found to have been negligent regarding any of those issues. If our own client is the truck driver, we look into certain special factors and, even if our client was negligent, if it contributes, other drivers or people involved in the accident may also be at fault.
Steps After a Truck Accident
Clients often ask what the initial steps after a truck injury claim are. We walk them through an initial process of protecting all of their rights and preserving all of their benefits. Step one needs to be retaining a competent trucking injury attorney as soon as possible. We move into action trying to preserve evidence, talk to witnesses; in certain cases, hiring a private investigator to get out there and visit the scene, take photographs; interview witnesses who may have been at the scene or have seen the aftermath of the scene.
Always let somebody else who is competent in that area handle things for you. There are deadlines that are required, some as short as 30 days, when we must file certain applications for benefits. If those deadlines are not met, then you could lose a substantial right in what your benefits are, that were paid for by you in premiums, and now you don’t have them anymore because you haven’t met those deadlines.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Truck Accident
Some common mistakes that I see from clients who were involved in a big truck accident are failure to preserve information and evidence that might exist at the scene. Among those categories are photographs of the vehicles, of the roadway, any skid marks, the layout of the road, the lanes, the intersection if necessary. Preservation or lack thereof of getting information of witnesses, both name, numbers, and addresses. Addresses can be critical because people change their phone number, but if they have an address, we can find them historically.
Another common mistake that we see from clients who were involved in big truck accidents is when they reach out to the insurance companies themselves. Oftentimes, they give certain statements or are asked questions in a certain way that are specifically geared to favor the insurance companies and maybe skew or twist a version of the story. Having the client let us handle all of those communications is critically important.
Truck Accident Insurance Investigation
We tell all of our clients who call after a truck accident never to talk to the insurance company under any circumstances, whether it be their own carrier or the other carrier. Once a client retains us, we handle all of the correspondence, telephone calls, information exchange and anything that is either required by their own carrier or information that we think might be beneficial to them regarding the other carrier contact. Whether it be regarding the property damage for their car or any other losses that might be covered by the insurance companies, the advice is always the same consistently: do not engage in any communication with the insurance companies.
A lot of clients think that they’re helping and moving the case forward by responding to emails from insurance companies. I tell the clients to always give us the information involving any and all information for contact of both insurance companies at our first meeting, whether it be by email or telephone, or any other method whatsoever; paper mail is very common as well. We respond to all those methods, keep the insurance adjusters informed, but keep our client out of the loop regarding the contact or communication with either insurance company.
Choosing a Truck Accident Attorney
What’s important to know when you’re involved in a trucking accident is which attorney to hire. I tell all the clients that we talk to, when you meet with your attorney, it should be an interview of the attorney, not so much an interview of the client.
You should ask your attorney at that first meeting when their last trial was, when they are picking a jury next, and what kind of results they have gotten with the cases that are similar in nature to yours. I think that when the attorney answers those questions, it’s going to differentiate attorneys and firms in a very stark, contrasting way.
Truck Accident Settlement Offers
Sometimes a potential client will call and ask us if they should take the first offer made by a trucking company or a commercial trucking company. The answer is always, “No.” We are in the business of trying to maximize that recovery for you, and the trucking company or their insurance carrier is in the business of saving money for their company and also providing a benefit to their stockholders. In that case, they have a direct opposite view and role of what their goals are in relation to you and your injuries, which can be devastating.
It can cause a loss of income for you and your family. It can affect you physically with limitations and injuries forever. Not accepting that initial offer is a critical move, and not signing anything without having an attorney review it is also really critical to protecting you and your family.
Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
We get calls from clients regarding time frames required to file a truck injury accident claim. Initially you need to know, in New York State, the no-fault application benefits (which covers your medicals, your mileage, and your lost wages) is due within 30 days. A cause of action against a trucking company, the driver, and possibly the truck owner is traditionally three years if they are all private individuals.
There are different time deadlines. For example, if you’re hit by a big postal truck, if it’s a commercial vehicle that’s driven by a state employee or owned by the state, there are also much shorter deadlines. The advice is almost always the same. Although we know of the deadlines, let us cover them for you. You should retain your attorney early on so the deadlines are not your concern.
Truck Accident Case Value
We get questions from clients who want to know what the value of their case is when dealing with a commercial trucking company. The variables that go into that are many, but we have to focus also on how bad the injuries are. Will it affect you for the rest of your life? Is there economic loss? Have you lost wages in excess of what no-fault has paid you? Are there things that were taken from you that cannot be recovered, and if they can be, what is the value of those losses? Percent of fault or sharing of negligence is also a factor that’s looked at.
Based upon both what we have gotten historically, but also from publications that we subscribe to for jury verdict reports, from other case jury award settlements and arbitration decisions, all that will help us give the client an idea where we would like to see it resolve.
Truck Accident Settlement Timeline
It’s very common for clients to ask how long it will take to resolve their trucking accident claim. Although every case is different, we make sure that we push the cases aggressively, but also make sure that we are not resolving a case before we have a full view of what the injuries are and what the permanency might be. Every case really does have its own timeline; every case is different. If you have a case with a more minor injury, those cases can resolve quicker. The cases that require more extensive treatment and recovery and healing time also require that the doctors take more time before they can assess a permanency rating.
The Personal Injury Lawyers at Andrews, Bernstein, Maranto & Nicotra, PLLC fight for the rights of persons who are injured or disabled. We approach each case on an individual basis and personally assist each client with their unique needs. We are involved in every step of the legal process, and ensure that each case receives the time and effort necessary for success.
Like us on Facebook