Common Questions About Trucking Accident Claims
A collision with a large truck can change your life in an instant. Because trucks are considerably larger and heavier than other vehicles on the road, they can cause devastating damage and injuries in the event of an accident.
From our offices in Morgantown, Charleston and Beckley, West Virginia, we have answered many questions from truck accident survivors and their loved ones. This page addresses some of the most common questions we hear. These answers provide general information about trucking accidents but are not legal advice. Contact us to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced trucking accident attorneys if you have questions about a specific accident case.
What compensation can I recover after an accident with a large truck?
The civil court system allows people to pursue compensation for injuries and other damages after any vehicle accident, including accidents with commercial trucks. Damages, the legal term for money awarded in a lawsuit, are typically split into three categories: economic damages, noneconomic damages and punitive damages.
- Economic damages are meant to compensate the injured party for specific expenses related to the accident. Medical bills, ongoing rehabilitation costs and lost wages as a result of missing work are all examples of economic damages that may be available.
- Noneconomic damages are meant to compensate the injured party for losses that do not carry a specific price tag, such as pain and suffering, emotional distress and loss of companionship.
- Punitive damages are not awarded solely to compensate the person making the claim, but to penalize the responsible party or parties for extreme negligence or misconduct. In West Virginia, punitive damages have a high standard of proof and they are capped at a set amount.
How much is my trucking accident case worth?
The damages available for a specific accident can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the accident, the severity of the injury and many other factors. For a better idea of what damages to pursue in your case, speak with a knowledgeable attorney. No attorney can guarantee a specific result – if one does, it should be considered a red flag – but an experienced truck accident lawyer can help you understand the potential outcomes of your case.
Who is legally responsible for truck accidents?
In addition to the size and weight of commercial trucks, the industry itself plays a unique role in these claims. There are many stakeholders involved in transportation and logistics, all bound by complex state and federal trucking regulations. This means there may be multiple parties who share liability for a collision. These may include:
- The driver
- The trucking company (also called the carrier)
- Brokerage companies who arrange for transportation of the load
- Shippers (i.e. the owners of the truck’s cargo)
- Those responsible for placing and securing the load
- Companies or individuals charged with maintaining the truck
- Operators of other vehicles who may have contributed to the accident
With so many moving parts, trucking accident claims are complex. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the cause of your truck accident. It is important to work with an experienced truck accident lawyer who can conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your accident and pursue every available source of compensation.
Should I give a statement to the trucking company or its insurer?
Do not speak to any other parties in your case or their representatives, including insurance companies, without first speaking to your own lawyer. The trucking company and its insurer may be looking for ways to undermine or undervalue your claim.
One benefit of working with an attorney is they become responsible for communicating with other parties and insurance companies on your behalf. This allows you to focus on recovering and being with loved ones, not worried about what to say (or not say) to the insurance company.
Should I accept a settlement offer from the insurance company?
When negotiating with an insurance company representative (even your own), it is important to remember that their job is to maximize their profits and minimize the amount they pay out in accident claims. An initial offer from an insurance company is often the lowest possible amount they believe they can pay for your claim.
It may be tempting to accept an early offer and be done with it. However, that amount may not take into consideration the full extent of your injuries or what your needs will be in the future. You typically have only one shot to pursue the compensation you deserve. It is important to be sure your settlement covers as much of your current and ongoing expenses as possible. A personal injury attorney with experience handling truck accident claims can help you assess a settlement offer and determine how best to respond.
Do I need to work with an attorney?
Under West Virginia law, there is no requirement that you work with an attorney when pursuing compensation for a personal injury. However, navigating the insurance process and making a claim for damages without an attorney is like building a home without a contractor or engineer. A seemingly simple mistake in the early stages could be costly and compromise your right to compensation.
Personal injury attorneys typically do not collect attorney fees upfront. Any fees are covered by a percentage of the compensation they recover on your behalf. Working with a qualified trucking accident law firm greatly increases your chances of a successful claim, so it is almost always in your best interests to work with a lawyer.
What should I look for in a lawyer?
Choosing a personal injury attorney to work with is a personal decision, and it is important that you feel confident in your choice of legal team. As discussed above, truck accident claims are highly complex. The case may involve many parties who often have their own attorneys and insurance companies. To give your claim the best chance of success, it is wise to work with lawyers who have successfully handled trucking accident cases in the past.
Get Answers And Experienced Legal Help. Call Today For A Consultation.
After a collision with a large truck, your priority should be seeking medical attention and ensuring you and your loved ones are safe. Next, it is important to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. This allows your attorney to begin investigating the accident and preserving important evidence that could help your case, and helps you protect your rights in any dealings with the trucking or insurance company.
At Farmer, Cline & Campbell, PLLC, we have a hard-won reputation for securing justice for people who have been injured or lost loved ones in crashes involving large trucks. Our team is here to listen and to take on the legal burden of your case so you can focus on healing. To learn more and arrange a free, confidential consultation, please contact us at (866) 587-0167.