Being in a collision with a truck is vastly different than being involved in a car accident. A large (commercial) truck weighs over 10,000 pounds, and semi trucks can weigh between 16,000 and 20,000 pounds. Simple physics tells us that a truck weighing 20,000 pounds is almost always going to cause more destruction in a collision than a car weighing 4,000 pounds. Truck accidents are five times more likely to cause serious injuries and death than car accidents, and the injuries can be much more serious than the injuries from a run-of-the-mill auto collision.
In a truck accident claim, just as in a car accident claim, you still must be able to prove negligence against the operator of the truck (the driver). Additionally, the company that owns the truck can also be held liable for negligence. Because of the amount of Federal Regulation in the area of over-the-road-trucking, there is a great deal of documentation about the training and skill of the driver of the truck. There is also documentation about the condition of the truck at the time of the collision.
In a truck accident there will be information that is available that an inexperienced attorney might not know exists, and that information could be the difference between a $100,000 claim and a $1,000,000 claim. It is not wise for an attorney to treat a truck accident claim the same way the attorney would treat a standard auto accident claim. Because of all of the regulations in place, truck accident claims required a specific base of knowledge. If your attorney doesn’t have a good grasp on the regulations, you could be valuing a case much lower than what it is truly worth.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, there are several steps that need to be taken to ensure that certain evidence is not destroyed. A detailed preservation letter needs to be sent out immediately, but you need an experienced attorney to know what to ask be preserved. There are Federal Regulations that tell trucking companies exactly how long they have to keep very important information (such as the driver’s daily logs, which indicate where a driver has been and for how long).
There is also a “black box” in most tractor-trailers which will capture certain data at impact, such as the speed of the truck, whether the brake was engaged, whether the cruise control was set. This information can be crucial in proving the culpability of the defendant. However, that information can be lost if the truck is put back in use before a qualified professional is able to download the information—another reason why you need to seek the advice of an attorney as quickly as possible if you have been in a truck accident.
Many trucking companies also now have Qualcomm or Q-Trac systems in place, which pinpoint the location of the truck approximately every 30 minutes. That information can be compared against driver logs to determine whether the driver was lying on his daily logs.
More often than not, truck accidents result in catastrophic damages, and there is always hundreds of thousands- if not millions- of dollars in insurance coverage. Trucking companies hire very expensive, very experienced defense attorneys to handle their insurance claims. If an attorney doesn’t know what information is available a seasoned defense attorney is certainly not going to volunteer it. Even if you do ask for the right information, the defense attorney will often try to block its discovery.
Pursuing a truck accident claim requires persistence. You need an experienced personal injury attorney who can file a lawsuit and subpoena information from the trucking company. You need an experienced personal injury attorney who knows what trucking rules and regulations, who understands what information is available to assist in your case, and the tenacity to keep trying to get that information when the insurance company doesn’t want to provide it.
At Fasig & Brooks, our Tallahassee attorneys have experience in handling truck accident claims. We will pursue your claim to help you recover actual and, if possible, punitive damages. If you have been injured in a truck accident, or have had to endure the tragic loss of a loved one due to a trucking accident, you need an experienced personal injury attorney. Our Tallahassee attorneys are available day or night, weekday or weekend, at (850) 222-3232.