Most motorists have had an auto accident at some point in their lives. However, very few have been involved in crashes with trucks. This lack of familiarity can make it a bit challenging to know what to expect out of the truck accident litigation process.
More goes into investigating truck accident cases during the pre-litigation phase than car crash ones. Also, since tractor-trailer collisions tend to result in more catastrophic injuries or motorists’ deaths, insurance companies are more likely to push back on liability when awarding settlements, thus necessitating litigation (going to trial).
What Actions Must You Take Post Truck Accident?
Like any accident, you must summon the police to the crash scene to prepare a report after it occurs. If the crash rendered you incapable of doing so, then a passenger or the truck driver may also notify authorities. The accident report is critical to holding any motorist liable for their involvement in causing a crash.
It’s also critical that you get checked out following any wreck, whether you feel hurt or not. Doing so ensures you don’t have any internal injuries that just haven’t had time to fully manifest themselves yet.
You should then consult with a truck accident attorney. Why is that? Because while you might have unilaterally pursued damages following a car crash before, there are additional layers involved in litigating a truck accident case. Let’s explore what those differences are.
Factors That Are Unique to Truck Accident Cases
Many motorists involved in truck accidents believe that their cases will unfold much like a previous car crash they’ve had. Some unique aspects of semi-truck collision cases make them different, though. Some of those details include:
Tractor-Trailer Operators Receive Enhanced Driver Training
Passenger car operators receive standard driver’s licenses, allowing them to operate automobiles of a certain size and weight on most roadways. Truckers, on the other hand, don’t just have a regular driver’s license that allows them to lawfully operate a passenger car, but also must acquire a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Securing a CDL generally involves studying for and taking a test. Classes in which aspiring truckers learn about trucking regulations they must abide by and the mechanics of operating a truck are required. It’s also necessary for truckers to demonstrate mastery during practical application exercises of truck driving techniques.
Different Laws Apply That Truckers Must Abide By
Truckers must follow driving laws just like any passenger car driver has to. However, there are additional rules and regulations established and enforced by the Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that tractor-trailer operators must also follow. These include Hours of Service, pre-trip inspection, and operator health physical requirements (among many others).
Truckers’ Insurance Coverage Works Differently
Tractor-trailer operators often carry more insurance than passenger car drivers. Whether a trucker is an employee of a trucking company, an independent contractor, or an owner-operator, there are factors that may impact the types of insurance coverage available to tap into as a motorist who was involved in an accident with a semi-truck.
Insurance coverage truckers carry also tends to have higher policy limits that injured motorists or estates of deceased ones can stake a claim on. The reason why this is the case is because truck accidents with passenger cars tend to result in motorists’ more devastating injuries or wrongful deaths than collisions between two equally-sized automobiles.
How Do You Build a Truck Accident Case?
All motorists, whether we’re talking about passenger car drivers or truckers, have a responsibility to exercise a duty of care when sharing the road with others. This duty of care requires motorists to operate their vehicles safely.
Your case must meet a few different standards to warrant the filing of a personal injury case, including:
- A trucker owed you a duty of care, which they breached
- You suffered harm as a result of your involvement in the crash
- The injuries you suffered in the truck accident resulted in you sustaining monetary losses
While most truck accident cases can be resolved in pre-litigation via conversations between your personal injury attorney and an insurance company adjuster, there are some situations in which escalating an Albuquerque case to trial is warranted.
When Might Taking Your Truck Accident Case to Trial Be Necessary?
There are a few different situations that may warrant you litigating a case. These scenarios include when:
- An insurance company denies liability and is unwilling to pay a settlement
- Your losses such as injuries are significant, or the truck accident resulted in the death of a loved one, and the insurance company is offering below-average compensation
Resolving your Albuquerque case during the pre-litigation phase often allows for a quicker settlement. However, our truck accident attorneys here at Buckingham & Vega Law Firm are ready and willing to litigate your New Mexico truck accident case in the courtroom whenever necessary to ensure you receive maximum compensation.
Preparing for Trial in Your Truck Accident Case
A lot goes into preparing your case for trial if litigation is the option your attorney deems to be in your best interest to pursue.
It’s necessary to compile the following evidence in any car accident case:
- A police report
- Medical records and bills
- Both your and the other motorist’s auto insurance coverage information
- Witness names and accounts of what they saw
- The crash scene, vehicle, and injury photos
However, in Albuquerque truck accident cases, additional information such as the following may also be critical:
- The trucker’s employment, driving, and health records
- Tractor-trailer maintenance records
- Trucker electronic logbook access
- Detailed trucker and fleet company insurance coverage documentation
Generally, the above information would be ample enough if you were planning to settle a case outside the courtroom. However, additional emphasis must be placed on producing evidence capable of convincing a judge or jury of a trucker’s or fleet company’s liability and the egregiousness of their actions when you litigate a truck accident case.
It thus may be necessary for your attorney to hire expert witnesses such as doctors, actuaries, traffic engineers, vocational specialists, and others as they prepare your case for trial. These professionals’ expertise can be called upon to prove liability in your case or justify your demands for a settlement offer greater than what an insurer thinks you deserve as compensation in your truck accident case.
Where an Attorney Figures Into Litigated Truck Accident Cases
You derive a few different benefits from hiring a truck accident attorney to handle your New Mexico case.
First, they’ll know the laws that apply to all motorists in New Mexico and, perhaps more importantly, truckers. They’ll be able to tell if a trucker breached their duty of care, thus meeting the first requirement needed for a valid claim.
Your lawyer will also know what evidence to have preserved in your case. They’ll also understand how to establish a direct link between the accident and your injuries. Your attorney will also know how to calculate your current and future medical bills and any other expenses associated with the losses you’ve suffered.
Lastly, your Buckingham & Vega Law Firm attorney will have the necessary knowledge to help you navigate the claims process and determine when it’s time to pursue a trial. No matter what path your case takes, you can feel comfortable knowing your lawyer will adequately prepare you for how it plays out. Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation to discuss your truck accident case that happened here in Albuquerque today and whether litigation is necessary. You’ll be glad you did.