Suppose you or someone you love has been involved in a crash with an 18-wheeler. What should you look for in an attorney?
An accident involving a semi-truck is nothing like a car accident.
When another car comes out of nowhere and hits you, knowing who is at fault is easy. The person at fault is likely sitting behind the wheel of the other car. But in trucking accidents, the person behind the wheel may only be the tip of the iceberg out of many responsible parties. Oftentimes those parties such as brokers and shippers are often overlooked by lawyers not experienced in truck crash cases.
There are many people who may be involved in a trucking accident beyond the driver. This is due to the complexity of the trucking industry and Federal and State regulations that relate to truck crash cases. The truck driver likely works for a trucking company (called a “carrier” in the business). But that company oftentimes does not own the truck or even employ the truck driver. They also may not have anything to do with loading or securing the load being transported. The loading and securing of the load usually come from a shipper who contracts with the carrier. Depending on the contracts involved, the shipper could also be liable for the accident based upon the unsafe loading or securement of the load. Sometimes, the shipper uses a broker to find trucks to carry its loads. Both the shipper and broker are often overlooked as defendants and may provide additional insurance coverage in the event the trucking company does not carry sufficient insurance to fully compensate the seriously injured persons.
Untangling the complex web of relationships requires a herculean effort to find all the parties responsible and understand where they all fit into your case. In an industry as complex as trucking, experience is a critical factor. You need an attorney who understands the structure of these trucking industry relationships.
How is the FMCSA involved?
The trucking industry is subject to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. There are numerous rules regarding who can drive, who is responsible for safety, what information companies must keep, and countless others. Knowledge of these rules allows the attorney to best develop your case. Of course, the Federal Regulations aren’t the only laws an attorney needs to consider. There are also decisions made by federal and state courts that shape how you pursue your claim. This body of law is highly specific and requires an expert in the field of trucking law. The fact is it can take years of practicing in the area for an attorney to gain the expertise necessary to best represent your interests.
The experience and knowledge of truck accident attorneys allow them to act quickly to investigate your case.
As soon as an accident happens, it is a race against time to preserve evidence important to your case. Within hours of a truck crash, the insurance companies will have an emergency response team made up of accident reconstructionists, investigators, and other experts on the scene. It is important that the lawyer you chose have the same team of experts to protect you and your family.
Today, commercial motor vehicles are often equipped with a wide array of sensors that collect data on the speed of the truck, braking, and other driver behavior. Additionally, many trucks now have cameras in the cab recording what the driver is doing and what is happening on the roadway. While all this data can be critical to proving your case, insurance companies often do not save the data that is harmful to them. Having an experienced lawyer will make sure that that evidence is discovered and preserved on your behalf.
An experienced truck accident attorney knows that time is of the essence. The attorney will get out to the scene, knows how to ensure that companies know they need to keep the data, find critical eyewitnesses to your case and ensure that all responsible parties be held responsible for the devastation they cause.