5 Common Truck Accident Questions

Were you injured badly in a truck wreck? Check out these 5 common truck accident questions, then call our Mississippi lawyer to get started.

1) What steps after a truck accident should I take to recover compensation?

5 Common Truck Accident QuestionsJust recently I got off the phone with a potential client who had been injured – actually, a family member had been seriously injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, an 18-wheeler, here in Mississippi. Steps After a Truck AccidentThe family member asked what they should do. Their family member was in serious condition after this wreck and getting medical treatment, but it was the trucking company’s fault, and they just didn’t know what to do in this situation. They were hoping we could answer their questions and help, which of course we were glad to do.

First of all, any wreck or injury that involves a tractor trailer truck, or, for that matter, any other large commercial vehicle, is a special type of personal injury case. In other words, it’s not a run-of-the-mill car wreck. Trucking cases are more complex because those vehicles are more heavily regulated. They’re bigger, they weigh more, they’re more dangerous, and so we have different layers of regulation on them. The people who drive those vehicles have to have a special license. The way that you work up one of those cases, the way that you deal with the insurance company or, oftentimes, with the trucking company themselves, if they are self-insured, is just different than a regular car wreck or some other type of injury case.

First and foremost, we want the clients to understand that a trucking case is just different than other personal injury cases; they are different than a car wreck case. The first thing, obviously, to do and to focus on is getting the person who was injured the medical treatment that they need for that injury. In this particular instance and, as is so often the situation when people contact us, that person was in the hospital, focusing on treatment first is important. Immediately after and sometimes even while they’re getting the treatment, just as this person had done, it is so important to contact an experienced trial attorney, who has had success dealing in tractor trailer cases, early on and immediately in these types of cases.

The trucking company and their insurance companies have their own teams that I assure you are immediately dispatched out to the scene. They are investigating. They are trying to figure out any way possible to show that that truck was not responsible for the wreck. It’s just critical in these types of cases that you have an attorney with experience in trucking cases so that they can put their team in action to investigate the claim, to secure evidence, to get experts involved, and to document the scene in order to protect your rights. That’s just the beginning. There’s also a special way that these cases need to be worked up to make sure that the person who has been injured has their rights protected and that they get full value for their claim.

If you’ve been involved in one of those cases, get the medical help you need and then immediately contact a qualified attorney to help. The Brad Morris Law Firm is here, available to do consultations on trucking and tractor trailer wrecks. Just contact us and we’d be glad and available to try to answer your questions.

2) Can I sue a trucking company after an accident?

I had a recent case where a tractor trailer pulled out from an intersection and just turned right across my client’s car. Even though it wasn’t high speed, it was still a pretty violent collision just because of the weight, the inertia, the truck, and it caused my client some injuries. The client asked me, when we started pursuing the claim, a question that I think is on a lot of people’s minds when they’re dealing with a tractor trailer case or a case involving any type of commercial vehicle or trucking — Can we pursue a claim or sue the trucking company that the driver was working for at the time? The answer to that question is yes. In fact, in most tractor trailer or trucking cases, we’re going to want to pursue the claim against that trucking company, in addition to naming the driver.

The reason for that is, in Mississippi, we have a legal theory that allows recovery for claims when an employee is acting in the course and scope of their employment and they cause injury to someone. The person who was injured can pursue a claim against that employer. It’s an old legal term called respondeat superior. Basically, what it means is that you can hold liability against the person that that agent is working for. When that agent or that employee is working for a company or working for an employer and they’re acting on behalf of that employer in the course of their employment and someone gets injured, that liability flows up to the employer.

If a driver is employed by a trucking company and that driver is on duty, and his actions while driving that truck for the trucking company causes harm to someone else, the trucking company has some liability for that under this legal theory of respondeat superior. Oftentimes, just as a practical matter, both the driver and the company would be named in the lawsuit, although sometimes it’s not necessarily to name the driver. Sometimes, just one or the other is named, but most of the time both parties are going to be included in the lawsuit, and that liability is going to flow up to the company; that driver is going to be covered under the company’s policy. If the company is self-insured, the company is going to be liable for those damages.

So, the answer to that question is yes. A truck driver involved in a wreck, where the truck driver or 18-wheeler driver is at fault, means you can pursue a claim against the company that they’re working for. With this question, like all others, the Brad Morris Law Firm is here to answer those questions and to provide a free consult on your claim or case. We’re here to help.

3) Should I accept the first settlement offer after a truck accident?

I 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.

4) How long will a truck accident case take?

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.

5) Can I sue a trucking company for wrongful death?

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.

Have you lost a loved one in a commercial vehicle wreck and have questions?
After checking out these 5 common truck accident questions, 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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