Accidents involving commercial trucks or tractor trailers can be especially complex. In many cases, there are several entities involved: often, the truck driver is operating as an employee or contractor, which means liability issues can be complicated. In this post, our Missouri truck accident lawyers answer a few frequently asked questions related to semi-truck accidents.
Why do I need a lawyer if the accident was not my fault?
Depending on the situation, a semi-truck accident can also involve the motor carrier company who owns the truck and the owner of the freight or trailer - along with the insurance companies for each of these parties and for the driver. In some cases, the driver may work for yet another company or agency. Add in all of these insurance companies and their lawyers. In short: all of these entities are working to reduce their losses and the amount of money they have to pay out for claims and damages. That's why it's often wise to consult a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, even if the accident was not your fault. A lawyer working for you can help protect your interests and prove your case.
Who should I talk to after the accident?
Talk to the police officers involved in investigating the accident, and seek medical attention if you are injured. However, you should limit any conversation to the basic facts of the accident and your injuries. Do not assume or place blame. Simply describe what happened as best you can. Then contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible: he or she can help you determine the best course of action. Do not sign any insurance paperwork or talk to any insurance representatives until you talk to a lawyer. In some cases, an accident victim will sign away their rights or agree to accept less than what they're entitled to for medical costs because they signed insurance claims too soon or were not aware of what they signed.
Who is liable or responsible for my injuries and property damage?
If you are injured in an accident involving a large commercial truck and the accident was not your fault, the driver, the trucking company, and sometimes the owner of the trailer or freight can all be held liable. It is also possible that there is other liability. If road damage or other hazards or obstructions contributed to the accident, other parties may also be liable. An experienced personal injury lawyer can utilize accident investigators to determine who is responsible and identify all the parties involved.
Why are accidents involving commercial trucks often more complicated than other kinds of vehicle collisions?
The average car accident case involves who is "at fault" (or who caused the accident) and the damages and injuries that resulted from the crash. Many other factors may come into play when one of the vehicles is a commercial truck. The safety history of the driver and the motor carrier or trucking company becomes important. Hours of service logs need to be checked. This evidence can help answer some important questions: Was the driver on the road for more hours than federal regulations allow? Are the driver and the trucking company adequately licensed? Does the driver have the proper qualifications? These are just a few factors that become important in an accident involving a commercial vehicle. These cases are rarely straightforward - which is why it's often extremely beneficial to consult a lawyer.
These are just a few common questions we hear from our clients. For more information about semi-truck accidents, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration online. And if you've been injured in a collision involving a commercial vehicle, contact us at (888) 287-1046 to find out if we can help.