The Importance of Hiring an Attorney After an 18-Wheeler Accident
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An accident with an 18-wheeler is unlike a regular passenger vehicle collision. When automobiles collide with large semi-trucks or 18-wheelers, there is an increased potential for massive destruction. A fully loaded tractor-trailer combination can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, which is almost 30 times the weight of the average passenger vehicle.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident with an 18-wheeler or if you are dealing with an insurance company after being injured in a wreck with a commercial truck driver, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free case evaluation. Our team of 18-wheeler personal injury attorneys have extensive experience with truck accident cases and will do everything necessary to maximize your potential for recovery.
TRUCKING COMPANY REGULATIONS
Due to the increased danger that commercial vehicles pose to other motorists, trucking companies and commercial vehicles are strictly regulated by both state and federal laws. These strict regulations impose more severe penalties on commercial vehicle operators, which in-turn motivates the insurers of trucking companies to fiercely oppose any potential litigation. Given the complexities of 18-wheeler accident cases and the guaranteed opposition that plaintiffs will face, accident victims are highly encouraged to seek out an experienced 18-wheeler personal injury attorney to assist them in obtaining compensation.
The Main Reasons You’ll Want to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
Motor vehicle accidents happen all the time. Every year, roughly 1.3 million people die in car accidents worldwide—an average of 3,287 deaths per day. While claims involving vehicle fatalities often require formal litigation in the courtroom, not every accident needs to involve legal representation.
Small collisions and minor car accidents (dents, scratches, and fender benders) won't always necessitate a full legal proceeding. Plaintiffs involved in minor collisions usually only report small amounts of property damage, which insurers are often willing to cover without dispute. Therefore, if you or a loved one have been involved in a minor vehicle accident, so long as the amount the insurance adjuster proposes to cover your damages is sufficient, then you may not require the services of an attorney.
It is when the accident involves physical injuries and massive property damage that plaintiffs may wish to pursue a formal lawsuit in order to receive a fair settlement from an insurance company or the responsible party. In these instances of major car accidents, plaintiffs are recommended to hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Hiring a personal injury attorney after being involved in an 18-wheeler accident will help you maximize your potential for compensation.
Providing Help with Legal Procedures and Formalities
When choosing to pursue a personal injury claim, there are many legal formalities and deadlines that plaintiffs must navigate in order to preserve their right to sue. When a client hires a personal injury attorney, the attorney becomes responsible for filing your claim on time, meeting with the opposing party, and all other legal formalities required to get your claim in front of a judge or jury. Moreover, if the attorney fails to properly handle your case and your claim suffers as a result of the attorney missing a deadline, you may be able to recover from the attorney instead of the defendant or insurance company.
As a preliminary matter, you will want to consult an attorney to determine if your filing window has closed. The answer to this question depends on your state’s particular statute of limitations for personal injury claims. The “statute of limitation” refers to a state law that places a strict time limit on the plaintiff’s right to file suit in civil court. Generally speaking, the majority of states provide that a person must bring suit for personal injury no later than two to three years after the date of the accident. A personal injury truck accident lawyer will be able to assess what type of injury you suffered, what tort you will allege, and when the filing period began to run for your claim.
In addition to the statutory deadline, there are numerous other case-specific and court-specific deadlines that a plaintiff must comply with or risk facing court sanctions. Further, there are conferences, settlement negotiations, and other discovery tools that will require either the plaintiff or their legal representative to participate in. In sum, hiring an 18-wheeler personal injury attorney will allow you to shift the burden of complying with the legal procedures and formalities of filing a lawsuit onto an experienced professional.
Establishing How Much Your Claim Is Worth
Although fewer road accidents involve 18-wheelers, accidents involving a multi-ton truck have a greater potential to cause catastrophic injury and death. Moreover, the value of truck accident cases varies depending on the extent of the injuries and the amount of property damage incurred as a result of the crash. A personal injury attorney will not only be able to help you place a value on the injuries and damages that you’ve suffered but they will also help you prove these injuries in court.
Generally, there are two categories of damages available to plaintiffs for compensation: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Losses that can be easily documented and quantified are economic damages. To determine the extent of these, personal injury attorneys look at a host of expenses including:
- Any expenses for medication or medical treatment that was provided in connection with the initial accident,
- Any necessary expenses for medical treatment, medication, or therapies that will be necessary in the future,
- The value of any damage property,
- Whether you lost any wages as a result of the injury or recovery period, and
- Whether your ability to earn wages in the future has been impaired or impacted by the accident.
Non-economic damages refer to the losses that are more difficult to quantify monetarily. To determine non-economic damages, personal injury attorneys take into consideration:
- Any emotional distress or “pain and suffering” caused by the injury,
- Any permanent physical impairment or disfigurement that results in the loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Any other non-financial inconveniences you may have experienced or will experience as a result of the injury.
The challenge with establishing non-economic damages is deciding how to place a value on the intangible losses and then to justify this value to an insurance company, judge, or jury. It is for this reason that many personal injury claims require experts to testify to these quantities.
WHO IS THE RESPONSIBLE PARTY FOR AN 18-WHEELER ACCIDENT?
Another factor determining the value of your claim is whether you, the accident victim, caused or contributed to the injury in some way. Jurisdictions vary on how they apportion blame or liability amongst the negligent actors and the accident victims, ranging from systems of comparative negligence to contributory negligence.
States that follow comparative negligence systems generally attribute percentages of blame onto the injured party and the tortfeasor, allowing personal injury claims to be diminished according to the degree of fault of the injured party.
In contrast, states that follow contributory negligence systems may completely bar a plaintiff from recovering if he or she acted negligently and contributed to the accident in any way. Hiring an 18-wheeler personal injury attorney would help you determine your state’s system of fault attribution and how your actions can affect your potential compensation.
Large Policy Limits Means Substantial Opposition from Insurance Companies
The larger the insurance policy, the more resources that the insurance company will throw at the potential claims faced by the insured. While this is true of large policies held by trucking companies, 18-wheeler truck accident cases often involve multiple layers of insurance policy coverage. For example, the company that hired the truck will have insurance; the driver may have their own insurance; the truck itself can often have its own insurance; and in some cases, even the cargo on board will be insured. A personal injury attorney will keep you in touch with all of these parties throughout the litigation and will help you maximize the amount of compensation you can receive from each.
After an accident, the insurance company for the at-fault party should act in good faith to resolve any personal injury claims against their insured, working directly with the claimants. However, some insurance companies engage in bad faith practices to avoid taking liability for a claim. Some bad faith practices and dilatory (delay) tactics that insurance companies may employ including:
- Failing to timely investigate a claim;
- Causing undue delays;
- Providing wrong or misleading information to claimants;
- Requesting unnecessary documentation;
- Outright deny payment for a valid and complete claim;
- Changing the terms or language of the insurance policy; and/or,
- Pressuring claimants to accept unfair settlement offers.
If the insurance company engages in bad faith practices, you could have an additional claim for punitive damages against the insurance company, distinct from the personal injury claim. Given the complexity of personal injury claims and the glacial pace of insurance reimbursement, accident victims are highly recommended to seek out an attorney as soon as possible. While insurers are often more concerned with protecting their bottom lines, personal injury attorneys have a plaintiff’s best interest at heart.
Potential For Monetary Advances and the Cost of Expert Testimony
If the claimant has been injured, they will often be dealing with a mountain of medical bills; most victims can’t afford to shell out thousands of dollars to pay for expenses not covered by insurance. Further, in addition to medical expenses, there are numerous other expenditures as a part of the pre-trial evidence process (e.g., the costs of obtaining documents such as medical records, police reports, etc.) and the court filing process.
The principal expenditure for personal injury cases is usually for the testimony of expert witnesses. Expert witnesses for an 18-wheeler accident may include accident reconstructionists, medical experts (to establish the costs of past and future medical expenses), and products liability/mechanical experts (for claims involving allegations of defective machinery, maintenance issues, or other mechanical failures). These experts will attest to the material facts of the case, the severity of the injuries, and the extent of compensation that is required for the claimant to recover. Expert witness fees for these cases can easily run into the five-figure range.
So, who pays for the costs of a personal injury case?
Given that the costs of these cases are so high, personal injury truck accident lawyers are typically willing to advance funds for some of these expenditures. In addition to paying the up-front costs of preparing for trial and hiring expert witnesses, many personal injury firms will advance clients’ money for the immediate medical treatments that they need to recover from the accident. These costs are just “an advance,” so the client will have to reimburse the law firm at the end of the case, out of their portion of the settlement or judgement, in addition to a percentage allocated for the attorney’s fees. This means that clients are often allowed to begin recovering long before their case has reached the eyes and ears of a judge or jury.
Get a Free Consultation for Your Personal Injury Case from Zinda Law Group
At Zinda Law Group, our personal injury lawyers have helped many claimants and their beneficiaries get their lives back on track after suffering injuries, death, and financial losses. We have the knowledge and resources necessary to help you seek maximum compensation for any associated medical bills, lost income, property damage, pain and suffering, and all the other costs your 18-wheeler accident has caused.
Our firm believes that injured clients should not have to worry about their ability to afford high-quality legal representation. This is why we offer 100% free consultations. Zinda Law Group operates on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will pay nothing unless we achieve a favorable settlement, judgment, or verdict for your claim. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 to receive your free consultation with our personal injury attorneys today. We are also offering free virtual consultations during the COVID-19 crisis.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.