Did you know that more than 100,000 truck accident cases are due to sleep deprivation? There are so many other causes, such as drunk driving and driver inattention, that cause severe truck accidents, leaving victims injured.
When this type of catastrophe happens, you should speak with a truck accident attorney to learn more about your legal options. If you’ve thought about hiring a truck accident attorney but aren’t sure if it is the right choice, please continue reading below.
In this brief truck accident guide, we will discuss ten things you need to know about hiring the right truck accident attorney and who you can speak with for more information.
Common Causes of Commercial Truck Accidents
Before we get into what you need to know about hiring a truck accident attorney in Phoenix, we will go over what you need to know about common causes of truck accidents. Even though the training commercial truck drivers go through, they still work in unsafe conditions even if they know they aren’t supposed to. For example, some truck drivers work while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which can significantly reduce their thinking and reaction time.
Additional truck driver hazards that could cause your accident:
- Taking too-sharp turns
- Distracted driving
- Ignoring check engine lights
- Failing to inspect the truck
- Breaking hours of service regulations
- Unsafe lane changes
Regardless of the reason that caused your accident, you can rely on a trucking accident attorney to find the cause of the accident and prove liability for your case. If you’ve suffered injuries from an accident related to any of these incidents, you may want to consider speaking with counsel to learn more about your options.
1. Expertise in Trucking Laws
Several Phoenix laws govern how a truck driver must act and work. For example, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, also known as the FMCSA, truck drivers are not allowed to drive more than 60 hours on duty over seven days. If they drive this much, they must take at least 34 hours off before starting another seven or eight-day driving period.
Consecutive Daily Hours
A truck driver is only allowed to drive eleven hours out of their fourteen-hour work day. The regulation also mentions that truck drivers must have at least ten hours of rest before they get back onto the road. If they do not, they violate the law, and if they cause an accident, they may face the repercussions.
Blood Alcohol Content
As mentioned earlier, some truck driving accidents are due to a drunk truck drivers. If a truck driver is found with a blood alcohol content level of more than 0.02, they are in violation. The only time a truck driver can carry alcohol is if it is a part of their cargo, sealed, and in the back of the trailer.
Physical Exam Requirement
Did you know that a truck driver must go through a physical assessment at least once every two years? This is to ensure that they are fit enough to handle driving a truck, especially in certain weather conditions.
In addition to being able to manage driving a truck, a driver must be able to see clearly. If there is a failed eye exam or any failed exams, the driver could be held liable for his negligence.
2. Experience in Personal Injury
When looking for the right attorney, it is best to work with someone who has experience handling personal injury cases. Personal injury claims are complex, and you have to submit a lot of medical documentation and evidence to prove your case.
You want to make sure you find an attorney who is well-versed in personal injury laws and what types of damages you can claim. You can claim general and special damages for your case.
Special damages are those tied to a specific number, whereas general damages are a bit harder to calculate on your own without any prior knowledge. For example, with special damages, you can claim medical expenses, lost wages, and all other things you can calculate.
General damages are about pain and suffering, and different types of things, such as mental anguish, which isn’t easy to try to figure alone. You can rely on your truck accident attorney to look at the facts of your case and make a demand to the right insurance companies to provide you settlements for your loss.
3. Free Initial Consultation
Did you know that most reputable trucking accident attorneys offer their clients free consultations? In your initial conversation with the attorney, you can go over the facts of your case, and they can provide you with your best legal options.
Some attorneys offer their legal advice with a fee, but don’t feel pressured to take them on just because you paid for the initial consultation. Instead, look to speak with an advisor who offers free consultations.
4. Knowledge of Proving Liability
There are three main elements of liability that you must prove in your case: duty of care, breach of that duty, and injuries as a result of that breach. For example, in a trucking accident, the truck driver has a duty of care to drive safely and within trucking regulations.
Let’s say we have a truck driver who drove while under the influence of alcohol. Because they consumed alcohol, it impaired their judgment, causing them to swerve into your lane and hit your vehicle. That would be a breach of duty. If you sustained injuries due to the accident, that satisfies the final element of liability.
Of course, that isn’t enough for the trucking insurance company. To prove that there was a breach of duty, you must provide a police report, witness statement, or other evidence that proves the truck driver was under the influence and that they swerved into your lane.
Proving this information on your own is tedious and can be very difficult if you are unsure of where to find this type of information. Reputable truck accident attorneys know about the elements of liability and can use their knowledge to build the best case for you.
5. Expert Negotiator
Truck accident attorneys know what it takes to negotiate with other attorneys and insurance companies. Insurance companies prey on people who try to handle the insurance claim process on their own.
This is because they know you don’t have the right negotiation skills and will try to offer you something that is most likely less than what you should receive. When you partner with the right attorney, they will handle speaking with the insurance companies and fighting for the compensation you need.
6. Knows How To Deal With Insurance Claims Adjusters
As mentioned above, insurance claim adjusters prey on people who don’t have an attorney. These adjusters deploy specific tactics to try to diminish the value of your claim.
For example, when you give your version of what happened in the accident, they may take your words and twist them to mean something else. When you fall victim to their tactics, you may have to walk away, taking a settlement that is below market value. The right semi-truck accident attorney is well aware of these tactics, and they know what type of rebuttals to provide to protect your interests.
7. Medical Resources
Attorneys have a vast network of physicians that can provide you with top-quality care. These working relationships give you access to the proper medical care needed to help you get back up on your feet.
If your injuries are debilitating and prevent you from working or doing any other daily activities, your attorney can connect you with someone for rehabilitation or long-term care.
A knowledgeable Phoenix truck accident lawyer has partnerships with physicians that allow you to seek treatment without paying. Once your claim settles, your attorney can pay for your services through the settlement amount from the insurance company.
8. Excellent Reviews
When looking for the right attorney, make sure you take a look at their reviews. You want to ensure you find a lawyer with legitimate reviews that talk about the working relationship.
Of course, due to attorney-client privileges, there is only so much a person can talk about online. What you want to look for is reviews about the communication provided by the attorney and how the working relationship was in general.
You also want to look out how the office staff treats the person. The attorney relies on their paralegals and other associates to help them move your case along. So you want to ensure there is clear communication between everyone involved in your case.
9. Calculates the Worth of Your Claim
Every truck accident claim is worth a different value depending on the facts of the case. For example, how severe were the injuries? Who is at fault for the accident? Is there any shared negligence in the accident?
In most cases, there are several different parties who your attorney can hold liable for your damages. Not only does the truck driver have insurance over themselves as commercial drivers, but there is insurance over the truck from the trucking company.
There is also a chance that you could hold the person who loaded the cargo liable. If the company the cargo came from overloaded the truck, causing an overbalance, leading to your accident, and causing your injuries, your attorney can also look into them.
With many variables of who could hold liability, you may have difficulty pinpointing how much your case is worth and who you can pursue. Truck accident attorneys are aware of the many layers of liability involved in a truck accident case, and they will help calculate the value of your case.
10. Contingency Fee Arrangements Available
Many reputable truck accident attorneys offer their services on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that you won’t have to pay anything for your legal services unless you win your case. Instead, the lawyer will simply deduct their fees and any other related expenses from your settlement check. They will then provide you with the remainder of your settlement funds.
Truck Accidents vs. Auto Accidents
Many people assume that truck accidents are the same as auto accidents, but that is untrue. Yes, they share similar elements, such as the fact that you have to file a claim and are both motor vehicles. Still, truck accidents have the potential to leave more significant damages and injuries than any other vehicle.
Strict federal regulations also add more stress and additional steps needed to resolve your case. As mentioned earlier, you can hold several different parties liable for your incident because there are many different insurance policies available to claim damages from. Because of these significant differences, you should speak with a reputable Phoenix truck accident lawyer to handle communication with insurance companies and all other related parties.
Best Truck Accident Attorney
Sustaining injuries in a truck accident can be catastrophic and lead to severe injuries. Trying to handle the entire claims process on your own is no easy feat, as there are several different parties you can hold liable for your damages.
If you recently sustained injuries in an accident and need help with your claim, you may want to speak with a reputable truck accident attorney. Contact us to learn more about your legal options. We are here to answer any questions you have about your truck accident case.