4 Truck Accident Tips

Did you or a loved one been injured in a truck wreck? Check out these 4 truck accident tips, then give our Mississippi lawyers a call today.

1. Truck Accident Settlement Offer

4 Truck Accident TipsI have a case right now involving a trucking accident, where an 18-wheeler ran a stop sign and hit my client. As we were first getting involved in the case, an offer had been made from the trucking company to the family, and the family member asked me if they should just go ahead and take the offer from the trucking company and get this over with. At that point, we had not been engaged as counsel. This was an offer that the representative from the trucking company or their carrier had made to the family independently, which is not completely unheard of. It’s a little bit rare, although not completely unheard of. If an adjuster or company representative can get to the family before they have an attorney, it’s not unusual for offers to be made.

My advice to that client and to anyone reading this is to not accept any first offer from a trucking company. If you or a family member have been involved in a wreck with a tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle, do not accept a first offer that’s made to you by that trucking company or their insurance carrier. The reason is that you really need a trained and experienced attorney who has handled trucking cases— not just a trial lawyer, but an attorney with experience in trucking cases themselves— before you can really have a sense of what that case is worth. Unless you are an attorney who works in these particular kinds of cases day in day out, it’s hard to understand all the elements that go into valuing these types of claims. In all likelihood, you’re selling yourself short.

Also, if you just think of it from another perspective, the trucking company and insurance carrier, when they are involved in a wreck like that, they are anticipating a claim— especially when they know it was their driver’s fault. They are expecting a claim, and, chances are, if they’re coming to you and making an early, fast offer, what they’re really trying to do is to just buy that claim out from under you at a discount. They know that you probably do not know the true value of that claim. I say that not in a condescending way, but I say that out of concern, because if you don’t work up these claims day in and day out, nobody would know the elements. The insurance companies know that, and they prey on people’s lack of understanding of how to value these claims. They prey on people’s emotions in the moment, that a bad thing happened and you just want it over with and want to move on. They prey on the certainty that most people would take one bird in hand today versus two birds in the bush tomorrow. For them, it’s a way to get out at a lower price.

With an attorney involved, an attorney can look at that offer and can look at the case as a whole. In my firm – there are lots of other firms out there who approach this in an honest way, who deal with trucking cases on a regular basis – we will look at that claim and tell you honestly whether or not they can add value to the offer that’s on the table. I highly encourage you, if you’re in that situation, to talk to an attorney. Don’t just accept the first offer that’s made.

It may be that there are insurance limits. In certain situations, the trucking company or the insurance company knows, hey, we have X amount available under this policy, and it’s a policy limits claim, and they just offer to tender the limits. In that situation, what myself or most other experienced attorneys would do is just tell you, hey, this is all you’re going to get, so, yes, you should accept that, and no attorney should have to take a fee out of it. They’re offering it, so take it. But more than likely what is happening is they’re not offering anywhere close to the limits that are available. They’re simply trying to pay it fast and get it over with and save money from having to pay you full value later, and that’s where having an experienced qualified attorney who works in these trucking cases on a regular basis can really add value to your case. We can look at the whole situation, fully investigate the claim, pull in all the different aspects of injuries and damages and make sure that you’re getting paid fair value. It’s at least worth the consultation of talking to someone.

Here at Brad Morris Law Firm, we’re always available with a free consultation on trucking cases or any other personal injury cases, and we’ll do our best to answer your questions. I hope this video has helped answer, at least, this very important question that some people have to address up front. It’s not in your interest to accept the initial offer, or really any offer, from a trucking company or insurance carrier, here in Mississippi, without consulting an attorney first.

2. Truck Accident Settlement Timeline

We’ve had a lot of success pursuing cases on behalf of victims involved in trucking cases, cases involving 18-wheelers or tractor trailers or other commercial vehicles, where our clients or a family member have been injured or killed. A question that gets asked a lot in those types of cases is how long a typical tractor trailer or commercial trucking case takes to bring to conclusion. The reality is there’s no simple, one-size-fits-all answer to that. The length of time that a case like that will take has a lot to do with just how complex a case it is, and that’s going to depend on the types of injuries that are involved.

For instance, not to be macabre, but a case where a person was killed on the scene in an accident that was caused by a tractor trailer, there’s no ongoing medical treatment in that situation. The damages are done, it’s over with. Typically, oddly enough, a death case is a case that frequently can be taken to conclusion faster than a case of, say, someone who was injured who is now paralyzed or someone who is hospitalized for a long period of time who’s having to go through extensive rehab and physical therapy and is impacted for the rest of their life by that event. Those cases are most likely going to take longer.

In all likelihood, it’s probably going to take two to three years to work to conclusion. This is because you ideally want the victim to get to a point of maximum medical recovery, they’ve improved as much as is possible under medical treatment. It’s only at that point that you get a sense of what their needs are moving forward, including what type of ongoing treatment they might need and what impact those injuries will have on their life moving forward. Once you know those answers, it still takes a little bit of time to work the claim through the system and before you can get an appropriate verdict and/or settlement.

The time period that a tractor trailer case takes to resolve, here in Mississippi or any other state for that matter, again, is just going to depend on the complexity of the case itself, and that is largely dependent on what type of injuries we’re dealing with, what type of long-term impact on the victim we’re dealing with and, also, just the circumstances of the event itself. Some crashes are straightforward; some require more extensive study in terms of building a reconstruction of the event itself.

Regardless, the most important thing is that you have competent, experienced, knowledgeable legal help throughout that process. That’s why it’s so important to have an attorney, especially in these tractor trailer or commercial vehicle cases. You want an attorney involved early on in your case, who can work the case up the appropriate way so that the case is in the best position to get resolved once you’re at the point where it should be moving forward. Only people who have worked extensively in personal injury and trial lawyers with actual experience in tractor trailer cases are going to be in the best position to do that and to get you fair value for those types of claims.

If you have a tractor trailer claim, where you or someone you love has been injured or someone you love has been killed, the Brad Morris Law Firm is available for a free consultation on those claims. We’ll do our best to answer this question and others that you may have about it. I hope this answers at least some of your questions here today.

3. Truck Accident Wrongful Death Claims

I just met with a client a week or so ago on a trucking case that we’re handling, and the client asked a question that I thought I would share here today because it’s a great question regarding trucking cases or cases where someone has been injured or killed by an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or some other large commercial vehicle. The question was how is this case any different from a regular car wreck? There is so much packed into that question that really gets to the heart of why these trucking cases are different. Let me just walk through a few of these points with you here today.

A tractor trailer case is a unique animal among personal injury cases. It’s different because the trucks that are involved are bigger, heavier, more extensively regulated, have drivers who have to pass an additional level of certification to get a commercial driver’s license to operate those bigger, heavier vehicles, and all of that is in place because the size, the weight, the way that they’re made just poses a unique risk on the roads. There’s an entire agency in our federal government, the Federal Highway Transportation Safety Administration, and within it the Federal Motor Carriers Administration, that are all set up to regulate these vehicles because they pose unique dangers on our highways when not operated properly.

One big difference in these cases is, typically, the damages that we see. Because trucks are bigger and heavier, injuries are much worse than when you just have two cars involved or two regular passenger vehicles involved. It’s just a matter of physics. The fact that you have layers of regulation on these companies and their drivers, too, creates a different type of case and setting for showing negligence, for showing wrongful conduct on the part of the driver or the company when a wreck is the fault of that tractor trailer. You need someone experienced in those regulations and in the context of tractor trailer cases handling the claim in order to work through those nuances.

Another big difference, separate from the wreck itself, is the fact that in most cases where a tractor trailer or other large commercial vehicle is involved you may be dealing with an insurance carrier that only covers tractor trailer vehicles or commercial vehicles. There is a subset of insurance carriers out there that really deal heavily in this field and specialize in those types of claims, and you’ve got to know what you’re doing when dealing with them. Also, a significant number of the larger trucking companies are just companies that own their own trucks, big corporations that run their own trucks, are self-insured, so you may not be dealing with an insurance company at all; you may be dealing with corporate representatives or a third-party claim handler who is handling the claims on behalf of that self-insured company, which gets into completely different dynamics than the typical car wreck case where you’re working with a lot of different insurance carriers who cover automobiles. That’s a big difference.

In terms of working up the case itself, these tractor trailer cases are nuanced. Typically, you’re going to have more experts involved, more specialized experts. For instance, your crash reconstructionists or accident reconstructionists are going to be typically more specialized on a tractor trailer case. In other words, there may be reconstructionists who do car wrecks but who don’t have the training, qualifications, and experience to do wrecks involving these larger vehicles. Also, the type of experts involved is different. We frequently get into biomechanical experts because you have a lot of different forces that are happening in a different way in a tractor trailer wreck versus a car wreck. You get into trucking safety experts that need to be involved to make sure that the trucking company followed the rules that they need to follow, in terms of hiring and training and supervising their drivers.

There’s a lot to it, and the bottom line answer is that, for a seasoned attorney and trial lawyer who does these types of cases, there’s no comparison. They’re two different things. A car wreck and a truck wreck are just two different types of cases that you work up in a different way. If you have one of those cases, you really need an attorney and a law firm that knows that difference and that has experience in it. The Brad Morris Law Firm is here. We offer free consultations. If you’ve been involved in a wreck that has hurt or killed a family member, or hurt yourself, we’re here for a consultation. We’re available to try to answer any questions that you have about it. I hope this information has been helpful to you.

4. Trucking Company Liability for a Wrongful Death

Over the course of my practice, we have represented a number of families who have lost family members as a result of accidents involving tractor trailers, 18-wheelers, or other large commercial vehicles. One of the questions that invariably comes up in those situations is whether we will be pursuing a claim against the driver of the truck or whether we will be pursuing a claim against the trucking company. I think that’s a questions that naturally a lot of people have, just wanting to understand their claim and how it will be moving forward and what’s involved.

The answer to the question is, usually, we’re going to be pursuing against both, where a driver is driving a company vehicle involved in a crash. That could be true, frankly, even if it’s in a regular passenger car. If that driver is on the job at the time of the wreck, and it’s a company-owned car, you would likely pursue an action against the driver and the company that they work for, but that’s especially true when we’re talking about tractor trailer cases. The reason for that is there’s a notion under the law that when you have an employee or an agent of an employer or a company who is out working in the course of their job for that employer, and they hurt someone as part of doing their job, it’s the employer who ends up having liability for that injury.

This really comes into play particularly in the context of tractor trailer crashes, and especially wrongful death actions, where someone has died as the result of misconduct or actions by a truck driver or trucking company. Typically, you’re going to want to pursue the claim against both that driver and the trucking company, although usually, at the end of the day, it’s going to be the trucking company itself or their insurance carrier that’s going to be responsible for those injuries and for paying the claim. This is just a prime example of one of the many nuances that are involved when you’re dealing with a case where a tractor trailer or other large commercial vehicle has injured or killed someone.

These are unique cases. You really need an attorney involved who has specialization and experience in that particular type of case, because who you file the claim against and how you go about the claim does matter. By way of example, to distinguish from what I just said, there could be a situation where the truck driver actually owns that truck himself and is self-employed or has his own business and is driving and just working as a contractor or freelancer doing loads. That would be a different situation, possibly, than the first example given because the company that you’re hauling the load for may not be viable in that sense because the driver is not actually employed by them. It just really depends on the circumstances.

Having an attorney with experience in this particular type of case, in a tractor trailer death case, is so important to getting full value and justice for your claim. If you have that type of situation, Brad Morris Law Firm is here and available to answer your questions. We never charge for an initial consultation on personal injury cases, and our main goal is to try to get you answers you need and get you the help you need. I hope this information is helpful for you here today.

Have you been injured in a commercial vehicle wreck and have questions about these 4 truck accident tips?
Contact the experienced Mississippi truck accident attorneys at Brad Morris Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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