What Must I Do to Prove my Truck Accident Claim?
Trucking accidents have been on the rise in recent years. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), just under 4,900 commercial trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2017 (the last year we have full records for). This is a 9% increase from just a year earlier in 2016, and a 42% increase from 2009.
Accidents involving big rig trucks can be some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. And when an 18-wheeler that weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds (when fully loaded) crashes into another vehicle, those in the other vehicle tend to bear the brunt of it. So, it comes as no surprise that 68% of those killed in truck accidents are occupants of cars and other vehicles, while only 18% are occupants of the semi-truck. The remaining 14% are motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
When someone is injured or killed in an accident that is caused by a commercial truck, they deserve to be fully compensated. This is not always easy, however, because these types of cases tend to be far more complicated than standard auto accident claims. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Multiple Potential At-Fault Parties: In a truck accident case, there may be more than one responsible party. In addition to the driver, other parties that may share fault in the accident include the trucking company, owner or lessor of the truck, cargo/shipping company that loaded the truck, the party responsible for maintaining the truck, manufacturer or supplier of a faulty vehicle or vehicle part, and the party responsible for maintaining the roads.
- Trucking is a Highly Regulated Industry: There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry, and whoever handles the claim needs to be intimately familiar with these rules, whether or not any of the parties involved may have violated them, and how any possible violation may impact the case.
- Potential for Large Damage Awards: Since trucking accidents tend to cause more serious and catastrophic injuries, victims are often entitled to larger amounts of compensation than most other cases. Sometimes, compensable losses could run well into the high six figures or even seven or eight figures.
- Aggressive Defense: Because of the high damage awards, large trucking companies and their insurers are more likely to push back aggressively against the claim, hoping to avoid responsibility or worst case, pay out as little as possible to compensate those who are injured.
What is Needed to Prove a Trucking Accident Claim?
In order to successfully recover maximum compensation for a truck accident injury, you will need to show that the accident, subsequent injuries and other losses you sustained resulted directly from the negligence or reckless actions of those responsible. This will require a thorough investigation to uncover important evidence that will help determine exactly how the accident happened and who was at fault.
Evidence needed to prove a trucking accident claim may include:
- Police reports;
- Photographs and video footage (if available) of the accident and accident scene;
- Statements of witnesses;
- Driving logs that show how long the truck driver was out on the road;
- Cargo logs that document how much weight was in the truck at the time of the accident;
- Inspection reports and maintenance logs that show when the vehicle was last serviced;
- Cell phone records that may show if the driver was distracted at the time of the accident;
- Medical records that show the extent of your injuries and tie your injuries to the accident;
- Psychologist reports that show the emotional impact the accident has had on you;
- Any other evidence that is relevant to your case and helps substantiate your claim.
Damaging evidence that is in the possession of the trucking company or other parties that may be connected to the case has a tendency to disappear – especially if too much time passes. To help prevent this from happening, it is best to get an experienced truck accident lawyer involved as early as possible following the accident.
Your lawyer can send a spoliation of evidence letter to the relevant parties, requesting that all information and evidence that is pertinent to your case be preserved. Failing to adhere to a spoliation of evidence letter can result in harsh legal consequences, and a reputable entity will most likely think twice before taking such a drastic step.
Contact an Experienced Pascagoula 18-Wheeler Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, you need strong legal counsel in your corner fighting hard to recover the full and fair compensation you deserve. If your accident happened in Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, Ocean Springs, or anywhere in Southern Mississippi, call the Gardner Law Firm today at (228) 900-9618 or message us online to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.