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What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

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Home » Helpful Houston Personal Injury Information » What Does a Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Truck driving is a massive and essential industry in the U.S., with 3.6 million employed as professional drivers. Thousands of commercial vehicles are on the road in Texas, and truck accident injuries and fatalities are the highest in the nation, with 513 fatal truck accidents resulting in 581 deaths. Here is what a truck accident lawyer will do after an accident.

What does a truck accident lawyer do?

Crashes involving commercial trucks, such as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and 18-wheelers, are some of the most catastrophic traffic accidents.   If you are injured in a truck accident due to another’s negligence, you need a truck accident lawyer. Truck accident cases are a part of personal injury law, in which the plaintiff sues the defendant for compensation, also called damages, for their losses.

 Are truck accidents different from other motor vehicle accidents?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that persons in passenger vehicles sustain most truck accident injuries and fatalities. Truck accidents are different from most typical car accidents, partly because the truck driver’s employer may also be legally responsible for the accident. Also, a trucking company will probably have a team of lawyers to protect their interests.

Federal and state laws regulate the trucking industry and require certain qualifications for drivers, maintenance for the trucks, logbooks, and regular inspections. Like all accident cases, most of them settle out of court. 

However, whether or not the case goes to trial, having a knowledgeable attorney will help support a positive outcome. Each case is unique, but truck accident attorneys have many essential duties and responsibilities.

Someone who has been injured in a truck accident is often traumatized and unsure of what steps to take. Others, with the best of intentions, will offer a great deal of advice. However, they probably do not have the in-depth knowledge of the law needed to handle a complex truck accident case.

Based on their education and experience, your truck accident attorney in Houston, TX, can explain your legal options and all the nuances of your case. They know what to look for in the insurance policy, how to investigate the accident, determine all the responsible parties, and analyze the relevant legal issues. Equally important, they will guide you in what to do and not do to protect your claim.

A truck accident lawsuit is a complicated process. Your attorney will explain your rights, what compensation might be available, and what to expect as the case progresses. The attorney’s knowledge of the procedures and court rules of the jurisdiction will also benefit you. 

Duties and responsibilities of a truck accident lawyer

Although each case’s facts and circumstances differ, a lawyer has many tasks and responsibilities. Typically, your lawyer will file a lawsuit to compensate you for your injuries and losses. It is essential to do this early because all claims must be filed within a limited time after the accident. The time frame for filing a lawsuit differs from state to state and is called the Statute of Limitations. To build a strong case, they will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and investigate who might be liable. 

The 18-wheeler attorney can investigate the case.

Investigation of the truck driver and trucking company are mandatory for serious injury or wrongful death claims.

For instance, looking into the qualifications of the driver is only one avenue of investigation.

There are many requirements for driving a commercial vehicle. Drivers must: 

  • Have a valid commercial driver’s license
  • Have passed the required driving test
  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Read and speak English
  • Be able to operate a vehicle safely.
  • Be able to load and secure cargo properly
  • Be in good health
  • Possess a valid medical certificate

Trucking companies must keep a driver qualification file (DFQ) for each employed driver. This file contains a wealth of information and can form the basis for a truck accident investigation, such as:

  • Driving records, including accident history for both the driver and truck
  • The driver’s employment history
  • Road test results
  • Drug and alcohol test results
  • Records of hours of serice
  • Training certificates
  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Copies of licenses
  • Records of annual reviews
  • Any medical certifications
  • Employment applications
  • Personnel records

This information tells the truck accident attorney whether your driver met all the requirements to drive a commercial vehicle. If the trucking company resists surrendering the DQF file, your lawyer may have to file a subpoena to obtain the document.

Your attorney will investigate many pieces of evidence, including information recorded by the truck’s black box, such as speed or sudden braking, and will gather GPS information to confirm the truck’s location.

Preparing and filing paperwork

Keeping track of the paperwork involved in a truck accident would overwhelm the average person. Knowing what paperwork is necessary and how, when, and where to file these documents. There are strict filing deadlines for documents, and failing to meet these deadlines can damage your case. Among their duties, your attorney will file any paperwork insurance companies require.

The attorney will also notify the appropriate insurance companies of the claim. In addition, they will notify health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid of the claim.

Preparing and filing the summons and complaint is the first step to filing a truck accident lawsuit. After filing, they must serve the summons and complaint on the defendant, officially notifying the defendant of the claim. Sometimes, it is challenging to locate and serve the defendant.

Your attorney must also draft or respond to any pre-trial motions required and file documents with the court listing exhibits and witnesses. In addition, preparing for trial involves preparing and replying to written discovery documents.

Dealing with the insurance company

There will be at least one insurance company involved in your claim. The lawyer handles all communications with the insurance company, relieving great stress for you. Your lawyer also reviews each insurance policy to determine coverage and exclusions, if any. Some cases, like an 18-wheeler accident, can involve substantial insurance coverage. Finally, your lawyer files any insurance claims and ensures these are handled promptly. Your lawyer can file a bad-faith insurance lawsuit if the insurance company stalls or unfairly denies the claim.

Establishing damages

Proof that someone harmed you is just the start. To obtain appropriate compensation, you must also prove your damages. It is not as easy as it sounds because every situation is different. Therefore, the amount of money to compensate you for the harm differs. For example, damages in a truck accident case may include:

  • Economic losses include medical expenses, loss of income, adaptive equipment, and more.
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Permanent impairments, including disabilities and disfigurement
  • Wrongful death

Your bi rig crash lawyer will negotiate on your behalf

When truck accident victims consider their damages, they often only consider the immediate effects of their injuries rather than the long-term consequences. Your lawyer can evaluate and establish your damages and negotiate vigorously to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

Representation in court

The case may proceed to court if the parties cannot negotiate a settlement. Your lawyer represents you in the trial. They understand the rules of procedure and how to use them for your benefit. They prepare you for the trial and appear on your behalf at court hearings.

There are many parts to a trial, including choosing a jury, questioning witnesses, presenting evidence, and giving a strong opening statement and closing argument. In addition, expert witnesses may testify regarding the results of the investigation, as well as your injuries, emotional harm, and financial losses.

How can a truck accident lawyer help you?

Contact a truck accident lawyer at Baumgartner Law Firm in Houston for help.

Related Resources:

What is an average truck accident settlement?

What Causes Truck Accidents?

When Should I Hire a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer?

 

About Our Law Firm

Baumgartner Law Firm is a Houston personal injury law firm headed by Greg Baumgartner.

Our firm was established in 1985 and has helped thousands of injury victims get maximum compensation for their cases. If you have been injured in an accident in Houston, TX, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. (281) 587-1111.

Since 1985, Baumgartner Law Firm has limited our law practice to serious personal injury cases. Our legal team has won maximum compensation for thousands of accident victims and recovered millions of dollars for real people like you. The practice areas we focus on are the following:
 
·     Auto & Car Accidents
·     Catastrophic and Severe Injuries
·     Construction Site Accidents
·     Daycare Negligence & Child Injury
·     Dram Shop Lawsuits
·     Drunk Driving Accidents
·     Lyft Accidents
·     Motorcycle Accidents
·     Personal Injury
·     Truck Accidents
·     Uber Accidents
·     Work Injury
·     Wrongful Death

Helping these areas around Houston

Houston, Sugar LandConroeThe WoodlandsCypressSpring, Humble, KatyAtascocita, Kingwood and Tomball.