Accidents involving 18 wheelers often leave victims in smaller vehicles with stacks of medical bills, unknown ongoing care costs, lost wages, and under tremendous stress. If a semi truck driver caused your accident, you may be eligible to file an insurance claim or lawsuit to collect compensation to cover these losses and more.
At D. Miller & Associates, PLLC, our personal injury lawyers help victims of 18-wheeler accidents (and accidents involving other trucks) recover the payouts they need to get back to living their lives. We can find out what caused your collision, identify the liable party, collect all available evidence, and file an insurance claim on your behalf. If it is necessary to get the money you deserve, we can even take your case to court. Call us today at 713-850-8600 to schedule your free case review with an 18 wheeler and semi truck accident lawyer in Houston.
Who Is Financially Responsible for Semi Truck Accident Injuries?
Even when a trucker acts recklessly or carelessly and causes an accident, they may not be the party who is financially responsible for your injuries, property damages, and pain and suffering. Instead, a legal construct known as vicarious liability holds their employer responsible for their actions while they are on company time. Depending on the facts of your case, the financially responsible party may be:
- The trucking company;
- A corporation receiving the delivery;
- The maintenance company; or
- A manufacturer of the truck or a defective truck part.
Holding the trucking company or other corporation liable is somewhat more complicated than filing a claim against another motorist, as you would in a car accident case. A large corporation likely has an entire legal team on their side, attempting to minimize any possible payout.
The upside of this situation, however, is that the company probably has a much larger liability policy than an individual would. This means we may be able to collect more compensation without having to worry about the maximum limits of the policy. This is especially important if you suffered severe injuries, such as a traumatic brain injury, that may require ongoing nursing or future medical care.
How Can We Prove the Trucking Company Is Liable?
To prove the trucking company is liable for your accident and injuries, we need to provide evidence to show the trucker acted negligently and they were on the clock at the time of the accident. Most of the evidence we need to collect is similar to a typical car accident. We request copies of the police report, identify eyewitnesses, and take pictures of the scene of the accident. We may even enlist the help of an accident reconstruction expert to help us understand who caused your crash and how.
A semi truck accident also creates a wealth of other evidence. Federal and state regulations require trucking companies to collect and preserve certain information, including:
- The truck driver’s rest logs;
- Data from the truck’s computer;
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing results;
- The truck maintenance records;
- Documentation of the damage to the truck;
- The driver’s personnel files; and
- Reports about past incidents involving the truck or the driver.
While any piece of this evidence could be vital to proving our case, most of it is in the hands of the trucking company after an accident. To ensure the company preserves this documentation and give us access, we need to act quickly after a crash. One of the first things we do after a semi truck crash is to send a letter of spoliation to the trucker’s employer, demanding it gathers and protects all possible evidence in the case. If the employer fails to do so, the company may face stiff punishments from the courts.
How Much Is My Claim Worth?
One of the questions potential clients often ask us is how much they can expect to get from their truck accident claim. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult questions to answer. The only way we can determine a fair value for your case is to fully investigate the accident and document your losses.
We need to add the total of all your medical bills, property damage, out-of-pocket costs, and other expenses to come up with a total of your current economic losses. If you suffered serious injuries, we may need to call in experts to estimate the cost of your future and ongoing care costs. Finally, we will put a financial value on your pain and suffering by considering the severity of your injuries and how they have affected your life.
Only once we complete these steps can we understand what a fair settlement value looks like in your case. If you agree to a settlement without consulting an attorney, you may not collect enough compensation to cover your future care needs and will have to pay out-of-pocket. This is why we encourage all truck accident victims to talk to an attorney before signing anything from the insurance company.
What Can I Expect From the Truck Accident Claims Process?
In the vast majority of semi truck cases, we can settle out of court. We begin by sending a demand letter to the trucking company’s legal team or insurance company. In this letter, we outline our case and demand fair compensation based on the evidence we collected. While trucking companies rarely agree to pay out the amount we requested, this typically launches settlement negotiations. We aggressively negotiate, fighting for the full value of your claim. We can usually come to a fair settlement agreement during this process.
Only rarely does the trucking company refuse to pay out a fair settlement. When this occurs, we are not afraid to take the company to court to recover the compensation you deserve. We try to avoid this to keep costs low for our clients, but if it is necessary to get you the money you need, we will take on any corporation.
How Can I Talk to an 18 Wheeler and Semi Truck Accident Lawyer in Houston?
- Miller & Associates, PLLC, offers complimentary case evaluations for truck accident victims in Houston. Call our office today at 713-850-8600 to talk to a member of our semi truck accident team. We handle these cases on a contingency basis, so you pay nothing until we recover compensation on your behalf.