Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions
After being injured by a trucker, here's how you can move forward.
Accidents involving large commercial vehicles, such as trucks, can be particularly frightening because of the amount of force involved. They can also be legally complex cases where liability might fall on the trucker, the trucking company or even the owner of the truck's cargo.
Contact us as soon as possible if you or a loved one was involved in an Oklahoma City truck accident and tell us what happened. We can evaluate your unique circumstances, then work with you every step of the way to address all your concerns. As a service, we have provided some common questions below that may help if you were involved in a truck accident in or near Oklahoma City. But it's always better to talk to us on the phone or in person. That way, we can give you - and your accident - our undivided attention.
- Why are truck accidents so serious? How big are the claims involved?
- The trucker who hit me was driving too fast. How can your law firm help me?
- How else can I prove negligence on the part of the trucker?
- What should I do if I'm involved in a truck accident?
- What information should I give to the trucking company or their insurer?
- Can I sue the trucking company or the shipper of the materials for damages?
- If I was involved in a truck accident, how can your attorneys help me get compensation?
- Should I accept a financial offer from the trucking company or insurance company?
The typical passenger car weighs about 3,000 pounds, while a fully loaded large truck can weigh over 80,000 pounds. Because of this size disparity, any collision between a large truck and a smaller vehicle has a high chance of causing serious or fatal injuries. Property damage resulting from a truck accident can also be massive, with the smaller vehicle often being a total loss.
With the high costs involved in each accident, trucking companies are always looking to settle out claims for as little money as possible, and their attorneys and claims adjusters will do everything in their power to limit the size of your claim. They might make a "lowball" offer or try to argue that you caused the accident by driving in the truck's "No-Zone." Having an experienced and aggressive attorney from Lawter & Associates in your corner can make a huge difference. Call and ask us about some of our trucking accident results.
Speeding is a major issue in truck accidents because trucking companies run such tight delivery schedules. We'll interview eyewitnesses to the accident and examine the police report for any evidence that the trucker was speeding. In addition, we'll see if there's any evidence indicating that the trucking company put pressure on the driver to drive at a dangerous speed in order to make a delivery sooner. Depending on the evidence, either the trucker or the company may be liable for damages.
If you were involved in a rear-end collision with a trucker, distracted driving is likely to blame. Because they spend their entire working days on the road, truck drivers often try to do several other things while driving. Many accidents happen while the driver is looking at a GPS device, talking to a dispatcher, responding to a text message or eating behind the wheel. We'll look at eyewitness accounts, the trucker's own statements and even skid marks on the road for evidence of distracted driving.
Another common explanation is that the trucker was asleep at the wheel. One telltale sign of fatigued driving is the lack of skid marks on the road; after all, if the trucker was asleep, he or she would have made no attempt to stop before the collision. We'll also investigate to see if the trucking company put pressure on the driver to ignore mandatory break times, or if the driver decided to ignore the law on his own initiative.
As with any accident, remain where you are, or you could face criminal prosecution for leaving the scene of an accident. Your first priority should be to make sure the scene is safe; if anyone is injured, call an ambulance and assist as you are qualified. The police also need to be called to prepare a report on the circumstances of the accident.
Collect as much information as you can at the scene of the accident, as it may become relevant to your case for damages later. At minimum, you will need the name of the trucker and trucking company as well as contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Take pictures of property damage, skid marks and any other relevant portions of the accident scene as well as any visible injuries. The longer you wait, the harder it is to get accurate information.
If you have any reason to suspect you might be injured, see a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries take time after the accident to become readily apparent. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the trucking company or its insurance carrier will argue that your injuries were suffered in the intervening time rather than being from the accident. Any injured passengers should likewise seek medical attention right away.
Finally, do not admit responsibility for the accident to the trucker, the police or anyone else at the scene. Liability for a truck accident is a complex legal matter that may take some time to resolve. Any statements you make accepting fault could be used against you by the trucking company or their insurance.
Any information collected by the trucking company or its insurer is going to be used to reduce their liability. As such, you should be very cautious when it comes to sharing information with either company, especially medical information. Rather than dealing with the insurance directly, direct anyone seeking comment to talk to your lawyer. We can aggressively represent you and protect your interests.
Whether the trucking company is liable for an accident involving a truck depends on the relationship between the company and the trucker. If the trucker is an employee of the trucking company, then yes, the company can be held legally liable for the accident. However, if the trucker is an independent contractor, the question of liability is more problematic and depends on the amount of supervision exercised by the trucking company. It's also possible that the trucking company engaged in provably negligent behavior that led to the accident, such as overloading the truck or pressuring the driver to work through mandatory breaks.
The shipper of the materials is only likely to be liable in certain specific circumstances. For instance, if the accident involved toxic or hazardous materials and the owner of the materials failed to adequately inform the truck driver or trucking company, you might have a liability claim against the shipper.
Because it's often difficult to determine who should be held liable, dealing with truck accidents can be complicated. At Lawter & Associates, we know how to carefully research the circumstances surrounding any truck accident and build a case against the right responsible parties.
The specific compensation you can get depends on the circumstances of your accident. In general, you should be able to sue for medical expenses related to the accident, property damage, the cost of alternate transportation (if, for instance, you need to rent a vehicle while yours is being repaired or replaced), pain and suffering, lost wages and other costs directly attributable to the accident, such as towing and storage.
All of these costs can add up to quite a sum, and trucking companies and their insurers are always looking to settle out claims for "lowball" offers. If you try to handle the claim alone, you're very likely to end up collecting less money than you need. However, an experienced attorney with our firm can review all of the circumstances surrounding the accident and push for a larger claim. We have built a reputation for getting desirable results for our clients who have been involved in truck accidents.
Trucking companies and insurers routinely try to settle claims for as little money as possible. Accepting a financial offer from the trucking company or its insurance carrier may be construed as a settlement of the entire claim, meaning you will have no right to recover further damages. Don't accept any settlement until you have completed medical treatment and been released by a doctor, and always consult an attorney before taking the company's offer. We have years of experience evaluating offers and will help you understand your options. Lawter & Associates knows in most cases, the amount insurance companies offer right after the accident is much less than they're willing to pay to keep the case from going to trial.
The above are just a few of the general legal issues surrounding a truck accident. To get more information on your individual case, contact the personal injury professionals at Lawter & Associates, PLLC. Call our Oklahoma City office at (866) 584-1027 for a free case evaluation.