Semi-truck accidents can cause devastating injuries for victims. If you’ve been hurt in an 18-wheeler accident, there are steps that you can take in order to rebuild your life. You may deserve compensation for both financial losses and psychological trauma.
At Reaves Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced 18-wheeler accident attorneys can evaluate your case for free and explain your options for seeking the compensation you need to move forward. Our respected truck accident lawyers in Memphis fight for crash victims every day, and we are prepared to be your voice in demanding maximum compensation after a serious wreck.
To learn how our lawyers can help you, please contact us at (901) 352-0333 or use our messaging feature for a free legal consultation.
Why Are Truck Accidents Different from Other Types of Crashes?
Truck accidents are different from other crashes involving passenger cars in a number of respects.
For one, 18-wheeler accidents can be particularly devastating due to the size and weight of the truck. This means damages may be especially serious, and emergency care can be critically important for injured victims.
It can also be difficult to uncover the cause or causes of a truck accident. Large blind spots, slow stopping speeds, and complex mechanics can all be factors in 18-wheeler crashes. In addition, driver fatigue, poorly secured cargo loads, poor truck maintenance, and negligent employee management may all contribute to a semi-truck accident. Even though semi-truck drivers are professionals who spend long periods of time on the roads, they still have the obligation to follow traffic laws and drive carefully.
Another way that a semi-truck accident can be different from other crashes is that it may not be immediately obvious who should be held accountable for the victim’s losses. Certainly, the driver may bear responsibility for the accident. However, drivers usually work for large employers. The employer may be liable for the crash, as well. Then there are other parties involved in a truck’s operation, such as those that load cargo or maintain the vehicle, that could be held accountable if their negligence led to the crash.
Carefully examining who should be held responsible for the 18-wheeler accident can be critical to receiving the compensation that you deserve. An employer may have insurance policies or the ability to pay a larger settlement than an individual driver may have. Part of the case may involve determining how to divide fault among those responsible. An experienced Memphis truck accident attorney can help you determine the appropriate parties to name in your claim.
Finally, a truck accident is different from a typical passenger car accident because there are higher standards and burdens that apply to truck drivers and their employers than apply to other drivers on the road. Truck drivers require extensive training. They must also adhere to high standards in daily operation. When drivers and employers fall short of these requirements, it may be strong evidence of their liability for the accident.
Who Can Be Held Liable for an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that only the other driver may be held liable for an 18-wheeler accident. There are many parties that may be responsible for a semi-truck accident, including:
The driver’s employer: A truck driving company must employ only qualified drivers. They must train, supervise, and discipline drivers effectively. If the company negligently employs a driver or fails to dismiss an unqualified driver, the employer may be liable for the accident. Employers may also be responsible for maintaining vehicles, loading goods, and more.
A company that contracts to transport goods: The company that owns the truck may be different from the company that owns the goods that are in the truck. If the company that owns the goods is negligent in the way that it packed, stored, or secured the load for travel, it may be liable.
Other drivers on the road: All drivers have the duty to drive carefully for the safety of others. If another driver causes a chain reaction that contributes to a semi-truck crash, the other driver may be liable for the accident.
The truck driver: Even though third parties may also be liable, the truck driver ultimately bears responsibility for his or her actions on the road. The driver may be responsible for negligent, reckless, or intentionally poor driving.
Truck parts manufacturer: 18-wheelers are complex machines. If a truck part malfunctions and causes a crash, the manufacturer of the part or the truck as a whole may be liable.
Tennessee employs a system of comparative negligence for truck accidents. This means that the truck company may try to blame you for a portion of the accident in order to lower the amount of money it has to pay you. A Tennessee truck accident lawyer can investigate who should be held at fault for your crash and craft a strong claim for maximum compensation.
Evidence in Truck Accident Claims
There are a number of types of evidence that may be used in truck accident claims. Some of the evidence our legal team may uncover in investigating your crash include:
Observations and documentation from investigating law enforcement officers
Photographs of the truck accident scene
Statements by the truck driver
Statements of other witnesses at the scene
Observations of emergency responders
Documentation of injuries by medical care providers
Medical expert opinions about the long-term prognosis of the accident victim
Records of hiring, training, and employment practices of the trucking company
Disciplinary records or official motor vehicle records for the driver
Accident reconstruction to show how the crash happened
Substance abuse testing results and alcohol testing records
Black box data from the truck itself
When an accident involves a semi-truck, there may be records that you’re not aware of that can bolster your claim. Records may show poor maintenance or a failure to respond to DOT warnings. Employee records may show that the driver worked for too many hours without stopping for rest. Gathering these records can help you prove negligence and causation.
You may be unsure of the cause of the accident for a period of time after you get hurt. Demanding the evidence in a truck accident claim can be a process. It’s OK not to have all of the information right away. However, you need to speak with a skilled attorney for truck accidents as soon as possible in order to begin preserving the evidence.
Compensation After a Truck Accident
Compensation in a truck accident claim should include payment for any losses, financial or otherwise, that you have incurred or will incur as a result of the crash. This may include:
Anticipated future treatment expenses
Reduced earning capacity for the future
Pain and suffering
Any way that you are financially disadvantaged because of the accident can be included in your claim for compensation. The more severe your injuries and the more permanent the impact of the accident, the more you can claim in pain and suffering. Physical pain, changes in your lifestyle, mental distress, and emotional anguish are all very real types of losses. Tennessee law allows you to claim compensation for emotional suffering and losses. Your truck accident attorney can help you value these kinds of losses in order to demand the appropriate amounts.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Tennessee
Any negligent act may be the basis of a truck accident claim in Tennessee. Some examples of truck accident negligence include:
Speeding or driving too fast for conditions
Improper merging or failing to signal
Failing to stop at a traffic light or stop sign / failure to yield
Driving under the influence
Getting too little rest or fatigued driving
Distracted driving like texting, talking on a radio, or talking on the phone
Insecure load / heavy load
Negligent hiring or management of drivers
Failing to address mechanical problems
Not taking precautions given weather or road conditions
As long as the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence, you should be able to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After an 18-Wheeler Accident in Tennessee
When you’re in an accident with an 18-wheeler, summon law enforcement immediately. They are often the first trained person who investigate the accident scene itself.
Emergency medical care is also critical for your safety and for your case. Be sure to follow the doctor’s orders.
If possible, take photos of the crash scene and your injuries.
Get the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
Keep all of the records and other paperwork that you receive from any party.
The sooner that you make contact with an experienced Memphis truck accident attorney, the sooner they can begin to work to gather evidence and build the case in your favor.
How Long Do You Have to File a Truck Accident Claim in Tennessee?
The basic rule is that you have one year after the truck accident to file your personal injury claim. Even if the insurance company or the other party makes promises or tries to stall you, it’s very important to have your claim filed in court by the one-year deadline. Missing the deadline can mean the dismissal of the case, even if the case is strong in other respects.
Our truck accident attorneys can begin work immediately on your injury claim. We will ensure all deadlines are met and that you do not forfeit your right to compensation.
How Can a Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?
A knowledgeable Memphis truck accident lawyer can help you with every aspect of the claims process.
The first step is preserving the evidence. Your attorney can help you get the medical documentation that you need and preserve evidence from the accident scene, including damaged vehicles, debris, tire marks, and statements from witnesses.
Your attorney can help you understand if you have a claim, the value of your claim, and what to expect during the legal process.
From start to finish, your 18-wheeler accident attorney represents you and pursues the claim on your behalf. Your attorney prepares your filing documents, serves them to the other party, responds to actions by the other party, and strategizes to build your case. Your attorney also manages all communication with the insurance companies.
Your attorneys will negotiate aggressively for a maximum settlement. If your case goes to court, they act as your voice, presenting a persuasive argument. At each step, they help you understand your options and recommend a course of action to help you achieve your objectives.
If you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, we invite you to contact our attorneys at Reaves Law Firm, PLLC now. Our attorneys have the experience and the resources to fight for the rights of truck accident victims. Let us explain how we can make a difference for you. Call us at (901) 352-0333 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.