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How Do 18-Wheeler Accident Cases Differ from Car Accident Cases?

The involvement of a semi-truck in any motor vehicle accident, whether it is a tractor-trailer or some other kind of truck, raises the stakes of any injury claim. People involved in these types of crashes need to understand that 18 wheeler truck accident claims are immediately complicated by a number of factors.

Needless to say, many trucking companies and their insurers have extensive experience handling injury claims from crashes involving their drivers. In many cases, the insurance companies will aggressively pressure victims to accept lump-sum settlements that are far less than what they are actually entitled to receive.

If you suffered catastrophic injuries or your loved one was killed in a commercial truck accident in the greater San Antonio area, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible. Commercial truck accident claims are far more complex than common car accident claims, and an experienced personal injury attorney will be enormously beneficial in helping you navigate the complicated legal process.

Call Ketterman Rowland & Westlund now for an honest and thorough evaluation of your case, or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.

 

Here is How We Work For You In Getting You Compensated:

  • Gather the evidence
  • We deal with the insurance companies
  • File any and all forms/notices
  • Aggressive negotiating
  • Apply our years of experience everywhere

 

There Are Different Standards for Commercial Drivers

Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) holders such as truck drivers are held to a higher standard when operating any type of motor vehicle on public roads, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) notes. Commercial truck drivers are required to obtain CDLs through their home states, and special endorsements could be required for the operation of trucks with double or triple trailers, trucks with tanks, or trucks carrying hazardous materials.

The FMCSA has higher standards for state testing and licensing of these drivers. In addition, drivers of 18-wheelers must follow strict regulations on:

  • Hours of service (governing how long they can drive in one stretch)
  • Drug and alcohol testing (including a lower limit for blood alcohol content for DWI charges)
  • Cellphone use (including restrictions on the use of any handheld device)

After a truck accident, your lawyer will need to work quickly to preserve evidence from the trucking company and determine whether any rules or laws were broken. This is a crucial step in proving negligence in your truck accident case.

If you were hurt in a truck accident and are ready to talk about your legal rights, please contact us today to set up a free consultation.

 

Truck Crashes Result in More Severe Injuries

The massive size of commercial trucks (which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds) often means that injuries to others involved are far more severe. Drivers and other occupants of passenger vehicles that are involved in collisions with 18-wheelers often suffer severe and potentially life-altering injuries, including:

  • Neck injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Seatbelt injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Rib and torso injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Burn injuries
  • Lacerations

Commercial trucks also dramatically increase the likelihood of a collision being fatal. When a person is killed in a commercial truck accident, the family of the deceased person could choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent truck driver and the company that employed the driver.

 

18-Wheeler Crashes Leave Greater Damages

Because truck accidents can cause severe injuries and significant damage to property, victims often must seek much higher damage amounts than in other cases.

Most truck accident cases are resolved through settlements, and a fair offer should take into account all of the treatment, medical costs, and other expenses the victim has and will incur. Settlements are common since trucking companies and their insurers often don’t want to risk losing a case at trial. Some cases, however, cannot be resolved through settlement negotiations and must go to court. Either way, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable 18-wheeler accident attorney on your side.

An experienced lawyer can demand both economic damages and noneconomic damages on your behalf. Economic damages are the awards for tangible costs a victim has incurred or will incur, such as:

  • Cost of medical treatment (current and future)
  • Lost wages from time missed from work
  • Repair or replacement of your car
  • Loss of future earnings if you’ve become disabled
  • Home modifications and medical equipment

Noneconomic damages are far more subjective and generally do not have a quantifiable value. They may include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement

Punitive damages could also be applicable in a rare number of cases, but they are far more difficult to obtain. Punitive damages are only awarded to punish defendants for particularly egregious acts of negligence, such as drunk driving.

 

Semi Truck Accidents Involve More Liable Parties

The major reason 18 wheeler accidents are often different involves proving liability for the crash. Whereas most common motor vehicle accidents involve only on the negligent driver, a truck accident could stem from the negligence of multiple parties.

Some of the different parties that could be named defendants in a lawsuit stemming from a truck accident include:

  • Truck drivers
  • Truck owners
  • Employers of truck drivers
  • Truck parts manufacturers
  • Maintenance companies
  • Freight owners
  • Drivers and owners of other vehicles

When you have a number of liable parties, they may begin to blame one another in an effort to reduce their own level of negligence. You need a lawyer who can hold every single negligent party fully accountable.

 

Large Trucks Have Bigger Insurance Policies

Because the damages in a truck accident claim can be so severe, insurance for commercial motor vehicles can be far more expensive than what most consumers pay to insure their own personal vehicles. This also means that policy limits are far greater, and more money is at stake.

With more money on the line in a truck accident claim, insurers and trucking companies will do everything in their power to shift the blame, minimize the payout, and even deny claims. This is why you need an attorney who has experience negotiating with aggressive truck insurance companies to handle your claim.

At Ketterman Rowland & Westlund, we have a long track record of negotiating maximum settlements for truck accident victims. Our dedicated attorneys are also skilled litigators, and we are not afraid to take a case to trial if a trucking company or insurer will not offer a fair payout. If an insurance company has contacted you or tried to offer you a fast settlement after a truck accident, please contact us now for help with your claim.

 

Evidence Is Different in Truck Crash Cases

When it comes to any kind of motor vehicle accident, a victim often has the power to secure some of the best evidence relating to their case by simply using the camera on their cellphone to take as many pictures of the accident scene as possible. Crash scenes get cleaned up relatively quickly, so any photographs you can get will be very valuable later on.

The same police reports that would be used in most motor vehicle accident cases are still important in truck accident cases. Cellphone records could also be valuable in cases in which a truck driver may have been distracted.

However, there are other types of evidence that are specific to these types of cases, such as:

  • The driver’s qualification file and training file
  • Hours of service documentation
  • Truck inspection records
  • Maintenance records
  • Drug screening records
  • Downloads of onboard systems
  • Delivery documents
  • Dispatch instructions
  • Weight tickets
  • Bills of lading

Our personal injury attorneys have the skills and the resources to collect every bit of evidence possible to prove who should be held liable for your accident.

 

In Summary

Were you hurt in a crash with an 18-wheeler or another large commercial vehicle? Turn to a law firm that has extensive experience handling 18-wheeler accident cases.

Ketterman Rowland & Westlund has built a powerful team of highly qualified truck accident attorneys. Our lawyers have handled all types of truck accident claims, demanding full and fair compensation for our deserving clients. We have also fought on behalf of families who have lost loved ones in tragic truck accidents that could have been prevented.

Please contact us now to set up a free consultation with our knowledgeable team. Our attorneys can meet with you in person to talk about the details of your accident and answer any questions you may have. We will explain your legal rights and outline what to expect as we move forward with your claim for compensation. And you can rest easy knowing that you don’t owe us anything unless we win money for you.