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If you drive a regular passenger vehicle, you may have felt anxiety while driving next to a semi-trailer or any other large truck on the highway. Though many truck drivers are responsible drivers, there are also truck drivers who are negligent. Even if a driver is responsible, there is a possibility that his or her vehicle has a defect. The flatbed truck is one type of large truck that can cause catastrophic damage if its driver is negligent or the truck itself has defects.
If you or your loved one has suffered injuries from an accident with a flatbed truck, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our flatbed truck accident lawyers.
WHAT ARE FLATBED TRUCKS?
The term flatbed truck encompasses trucks and tractor-trailers that have a flat open bed used to carry materials and equipment. There are generally two types of flatbed trucks: flatbed trucks with a detachable flatbed and flatbed trucks with an attached flatbed. Flatbed trucks with a detachable flatbed come in two varieties. The first variety has the flatbed located right above the wheels. These flatbed trucks generally carry logs, building materials, and machinery. The second variety has the flatbed essentially sit on the ground. These flatbed trucks, also known as lowboys, generally carry construction vehicles and other heavy machinery.
WHAT CAUSES FLATBED TRUCK ACCIDENTS?
Truck drivers have a strict schedule, so drivers who may feel like they are behind schedule sometimes drive faster than they should. Unfortunately, speeding increases the risk of an accident. We know that even a regular passenger vehicle driving at a high speed can cause chaos. An accident caused by a speeding flatbed truck poses an increased risk of injury or death.
Businesses want to save money wherever they can. However, sometimes the decision to save money can cause accidents not worth the savings. Rather than loading their trucks with an appropriate amount of cargo, some companies will load their trucks with cargo that is heavier than the recommended weight their trucks can handle in order to reduce shipping costs. Unfortunately, when a flatbed truck driver drives with a heavy load, he or she cannot drive as well as if he or she were driving a truck with a lighter load. The heavier the cargo, the more difficult it is to maneuver and steer.
Lack of Maintenance
Again, to save costs, some companies and drivers will skip routine maintenance checks that would make sure their trucks are in good condition. No matter how safe a driver is, if he or she is driving a faulty vehicle, the vehicle becomes a hazard on the road. A brake or suspension failure can cause massive damage on the road.
Read More: Equipment Failure
Lack of Sleep
Sleep is vital. Though many people believe that they can function perfectly without the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep, research has shown otherwise. Unfortunately, truckers do not always adhere to the recommended hours of sleep. Because truckers are often paid by the mile, there is an incentive for them to drive more to earn more. However, when truckers sacrifice their sleep for money, they become far more prone to cause an accident on the road.
Highway hypnosis, also known as white line fever, occurs when an individual drives a long distance for a long period. When it occurs, the individual no longer concentrates on driving but on other thoughts. While preoccupied with other thoughts, the individual appears to be in a trancelike state. Truck drivers are very susceptible to highway hypnosis as they drive for extremely long stretches of time on a road.
Truck mirrors don’t always show everything behind them. Also, because trucks have very loud engines, a honk from a passenger vehicle may not be heard. As a result, there is a higher risk for trucks to accidentally drive into a lane that is occupied by an adjacent vehicle.
Trucking companies are not known for having an extremely rigorous training and vetting process. There have been many instances of drivers who have been fined for reckless driving becoming truckers. A reckless driver inside a colossal vehicle is a recipe for disaster.
COMMON INJURIES FROM FLATBED TRUCK ACCIDENTS
- Brain and head injuries
- Back and neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Property damage
WHO MAY YOU SUE IN A FLATBED TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM
As the person most directly involved in the accident, the truck driver is most likely to be a liable party.
The Trucking Company
The employer is generally liable for an employee’s action if the employee was acting within the scope of his or her job. Thus, you may be able to sue the trucking company for your accident.
The truck manufacturer may also be sued if you can show that there were defects in the truck and the manufacturer is responsible for those defects.
HOW TO SEEK COMPENSATION AFTER A FLATBED TRUCKING ACCIDENT
In general, you must prove negligence of the at-fault party in order to receive compensation. To have a successful negligence claim against a flatbed truck accident driver, you must show the following:
You need to first show that the flatbed truck driver owed you a duty. Though flatbed truck drivers have many duties, one of these duties is to not engage in reckless driving.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty simply means that the flatbed driver violated a duty owed to you. For instance, if a driver owes you a duty to not engage in reckless driving but decides to drive under the influence, this would be a breach of duty.
You must suffer an injury on your person or your property to have a successful negligence claim.
To show proximate cause, you must be able to prove that the breach of duty caused your injury. Using the example given above, you would have to prove that the accident that led to your injury occurred because the driver was driving under the influence.
MAKING A CLAIM AFTER A FLATBED TRUCK ACCIDENT
1. Call an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Filing a personal injury claim can be physically and mentally taxing. An experienced lawyer may help you make the process of filing a claim less exhausting by taking some of the heaviest responsibilities off your shoulders.
Once you file a claim with a court, a judge may set a date for a trial, but also order you into mediation in which the parties to try and find a compromise without going to trial.
If mediation fails to achieve an agreement between the parties, your case will move into the discovery or investigative phase. In this stage, collect all of the relevant documents and evidence necessary to file a claim. These include medical bills, witness statements, official reports, employment reports, etc. This stage is also where depositions will occur. Depositions are essentially interviews conducted by lawyers with people who have information pertinent to your case.
4. Case Settlement
Case settlement may occur at the mediation phase, but case settlement may also occur during the discovery/investigative stage. If an insurance company sends you an offer, be sure to discuss the offer with your lawyer. Do not simply accept the offer, as your lawyer may be able to negotiate with the insurance company for a more favorable offer.
Read More: How Much Insurance Do Truck Drivers Carry?
If after discovery, no settlement is reached, then your case will go to trial. A trial may be a bench trial or a jury trial. Bench trials are trials where the judge will hear the evidence, apply the laws applicable in your case, and make a ruling. In jury trials, the judge plays a lesser role. Though the judge will set which laws are applicable, the jury will decide the outcome.
COMPENSATION FROM A FLATBED TRUCK ACCIDENT
You may be eligible for compensation for both economic and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include the following:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Damaged property
- Past and future loss of earning capacity
Non-economic losses include the following:
- Past and future emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of activities
LEGAL TIME LIMITS
Every state has a statute of limitations or time limit for filing a personal injury claim. Be sure to check your state law to see how long you have from the date of your accident to file a personal injury claim.
If you are filing on behalf of a child, however, you generally have until he or she reaches the age of eighteen to file a claim. Once your child reaches the age of eighteen, he or she has two years to file a claim. Note that there are claims that belong specifically to the child such as pain and suffering and claims that belong specifically to the parents such as those for the child’s medical bills.
WHY HIRE A LAWYER IF YOU PLAN ON FILING A FLATBED TRUCK ACCIDENT CLAIM?
Deciding to file a truck accident lawsuit on your own can be a daunting task. Because a truck accident involves not only the drivers, but also the trucking company as well, the litigation can become extremely complex. If you were partially at fault, that complicates a case even further.
The experienced flatbed truck accident lawyers at Zinda Law Group may guide and assist you in the process. In truck accident claims where you may be partially at fault for the accident, an experienced lawyer may help reduce the amount of fault you contributed to the accident, leading to greater compensation.
Call us today at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with a truck accident attorney. We believe no one should have to worry about affording legal representation after an accident, which is why you don’t pay us anything unless we win your case. That’s our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
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