While any auto accident claim can present certain challenges, truck accident claims tend to be especially complex. Why? Let’s look at a few common factors that tend to complicate the claims process when a large commercial vehicle is involved.
Truck accident claims may involve more than two parties. The victim, for example, might have a claim for compensation against:
- The driver
- The driver’s employer
- The insurance company
- The driver of a third vehicle involved in the accident
- The state government (if, say, road conditions were partially responsible for the crash)
- Other parties, depending on the circumstances
When an accident involves numerous parties, each of those parties is likely to mount a defense against allegations of liability. The various defendants might also point the finger of blame at one another (or even file litigation against each other). The landscape can become complex quickly.
Some types of accidents are unique to large trucks. Examples include:
- Jack-knife accidents (where a tractor-trailer turns in on itself, with the trailer folding in on the tractor at a 90-degree angle)
- Improper or overloaded cargo accidents (where cargo spills out of a truck because of improper storage and loading… or a truck crashes because it is carrying too much cargo / the wrong kind of cargo)
- Tire blowouts (owing to their weight and extensive hours of operation, commercial trucks are especially vulnerable to tire blowout)
- Runaway truck accidents (where the driver loses control and cannot bring the truck to a stop)
- Vehicle rollover accidents (often caused by a foreign object or “tripping hazard” in the roadway… trucks are more susceptible to rollover, owing to their high center of gravity)
- Swinging turn accidents (where the truck driver swings left to make a wide right turn, potentially striking vehicles or pedestrians on either side)
- Underride accidents (where a truck stops suddenly, causing ordinary passenger cars to rear-end the truck and run up under it)
- Blindspot accidents (truck drivers have more substantial “blind spots” than other vehicles, so they must be especially careful when making turns or changing lanes)
Because truck accidents are so common and so devastating, the state and federal legislatures have enacted special rules that apply specifically to commercial truck drivers. One important example is found in the federal Hours of Service Rules, which govern how long a trucker can drive before taking a break for resting and sleeping.
Too often, carrier companies overschedule their drivers, leading to a breach of these rules. Accident victims should seek legal representation from an attorney with specific experience in the unique legal issues that truck accidents can present.
Sadly, the injuries in truck accidents tend to be quite serious. With more severe injuries come more substantial financial damages.
Because there may be a larger dollar amount on the line, trucking companies and their insurers sometimes take a more aggressive or defensive stance against allegations of liability. They will do anything they can to save themselves money.
When the stakes are high and the opposition intense, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation right away.
Insurance companies are just that — companies. They are large and resourceful, with enormous budgets and an army of lawyers. Pursuing a claim against them can feel scary or intimidating. Getting a fair shake from an insurance adjusters might even seem impossible.
When dealing with an insurance company after an Augusta truck accident, there are a few things you should know:
- They are not on your side. Insurance companies look out for their own financial interests. No matter how many commercials they run promising to be your neighbor or stand by your side, they are ultimately interested in profit and self-preservation. They do not represent you, they are not your advocate, and they won’t lose any sleep at night if you don’t get the money you deserve. Unfortunately, insurance companies train their adjusters to find ways to reduce payouts and/or deny claims.
- They will use your statements against you. Be very careful when talking to an insurance adjuster. They might seem friendly, but even a seemingly innocent statement can be turned against you. For that reason, it’s best to let a lawyer do all the talking for you. (The insurance company might ask you to give a recorded statement… generally speaking, you should refuse until you’ve discussed it with a lawyer.)
- You have rights. The insurance adjuster might make it seem like you’re lucky to get any money at all. But at the end of the day, you are entitled to recover for the losses you’ve experienced as a result of their policyholder’s negligence.
The insurance company is not entitled to shortchange you just because it wants to save itself money. An experienced, aggressive lawyer can work strategically to persuade the insurance company that it has an obligation to pay and that doing so (without going to trial) is in everyone’s best interest.