RESPONSIBILITY IN TRAILER/TRUCKING ACCIDENTS
Normally the name defendants in a truck inclusion matter are the truck driver, the trucking company that employed the driver, any motor carrier or shipper who owns the truck or the trailer involved in the collision and occasionally Any other company that may been involved in loading the truck if there is an indication that the trailer was improperly loaded or overloaded and that was a cause of the wreck.
The elements of damage that Texas law allows a person injured in a collision to recover generally fall into the following categories: number one: medical expenses, past and future; number two: loss of earning capacity, past and future; number three: physical impairment, past and future; number four: physical pain and mental anguish, past and future; number five: Disfigurement, past and future; number six: reasonable and necessary future medical expenses.
Obviously, not every case has all of these elements of damage. The claim in the lawsuit will reflect the types of losses that you have actually incurred. Additionally, there may be potential claims for any loss of out-of-pocket expenses for damage to property such as your car, or the contents of your car that were destroyed in the collision.
WHAT FEDERAL INSURANCE (FMCSA) ARE TRUCKING COMPANIES REQUIRED TO CARRY?
Interstate trucking companies and vehicles are required under federal law to maintain and carry a liability policy of at least $1 million of coverage. Intrastate truckers, meeting those who only service within the borders of a single state and do not travel to another state, are required to maintain a liability insurance policy with at least $750,000 of coverage per occurrence.
DO TRUCKING COMPANIES OFTEN HAVE INSURANCE POLICIES BEYOND THE MANDATORY POLICY?
Depending upon the size and scope of the motor carriers operation, a trucking company may have additional insurance that exceeds the $1 million mandatory minimum limit. It is not unusual for a motor carrier to have an additional “umbrella” policy or what is known as an “access” policy. Often those policies are sold in $1 million or $10 million increments. National trucking companies often have coverage limits even higher than that
WHAT IF THE INSURANCE COMPANY MAKES ME AN OFFER? DO I HAVE TO TAKE IT?
The decision to settle or not settle your case is yours and yours alone. You are not required to accept any offer of settlement given to you by the defendant. Likewise, they are not required to make any offer of settlement to you. Settlements are an agreement between the parties. The reason the cases and claims are settled is that it makes economic sense to both parties. Insurance companies settle cases because of the risk of going forward to trial and the cost of defending the case or more than the proposed settlement. Insurance companies and trucking companies do not settle cases because they are nice, or fair, or care about you. They settle cases because it’s in the best interest of their business.
The way to create pressure for them to settle this by pushing forward with your claim, hiring competent counsel who are trial attorneys, filing a lawsuit and pressing the case towards a trial date. It is only when the insurance company or trucking company feels the pressure Of an upcoming trial date that you will get their best settlement offer.
WHY IS IT CRITICAL TO HIRE AN EXPERIENCED PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY TO HANDLE A TRUCKING ACCIDENT CASE?
Because of all the potential parties involved in the nature and severity of the injuries that can be caused by a tractor-trailer collision, it’s important to please retain a lawyer who has experience in dealing with these types of cases. Modern trucks today or sophisticated machines with a lot of computer technology on board. Because of all this technology on board, there is a wealth of information that can be learned from the various devices on the truck if that information can be downloaded and preserve after the collision. It is important that the investigation start early before any evidence is destroyed or “lost” by the defending truck driver or trucking company.
That’s why it’s important to retain the lawyer who has experience finding this material and getting it in the hands of experts who can utilize it to show the justice of your cause. Tractor-trailer wrecks are just “big car wrecks” and check the trailer and such. Almost all commercial vehicle racks are the result of one of three things: number one: impairment/intoxication; number two: sleep deprivation; or number three: distracted driving. Isolating the Root cause of the collision takes some investigation. Perhaps the trucking company lacks sufficient system to fully investigate the background and qualifications of the drivers they hire. Perhaps the trucking company pushes its drivers too hard to meet their deadlines, which in turn pushes the drivers towards not getting enough sleep or changing or falsifying their driver logs. With the addition of new technology in the trucks including onboard computers, GPS devices, and cell phones, there are many things that can be a distraction from of the primary duties of the driver which is to operate the vehicle safely. It is the job of the attorney to get all these potential claims and causes to try to make our roadways safer for all of us and our community as a whole.
For more information on Liability For Trucking Accident, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.