Dealing with the Trucking Company after an Accident

truck alone on highwayThe weight and size of a commercial truck puts the occupants of passenger vehicles at serious risk if they are involved in an accident with one of these vehicles. These accidents commonly cause debilitating injuries and even death.

If you were in a truck accident, you may have mounting medical bills because you need long-term treatment. You may also have lost wages from missed time at work to recover from your injury and debilitating emotional trauma.  The experienced legal team at The Arnold Law Firm may be able to help you negotiate a fair settlement and level the playing field against aggressive trucking companies and their insurance carriers.

Understanding the Commercial Trucking Industry

American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports that the commercial trucking industry is responsible for transporting more than 70 percent of all freight tonnage in the U.S. Combined, these large vehicles move more than 10 billion tons of freight every year by more than 3.5 million truck drivers.

Commercial trucking companies make more money by increasing the number of loads and products they carry. This creates an incentive to take shortcuts and make safety secondary to profit -- implying or expressly encouraging drivers to speed, skip mandatory breaks, carry more weight than they are supposed to, or take other safety risks.

As a result, nearly 5,000 people nationwide are involved in fatal truck-related crashes each year with thousands more seriously injured. Loaded commercial vehicles can weigh as much as 75,000 pounds more than passenger vehicles, meaning the occupants of the smaller vehicles are at a much higher risk of being seriously or fatally injured in a collision with a truck. 

Why Truck Accidents Happen

Similar to other types of traffic accidents, truck accidents can happen for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons cited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) include:

  • Speeding or reckless driving
  • Driving while distracted by using a cellphone, other electronic device, or eating, drinking or adjusting dials in the cab
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Driver fatigue, which is a result of driving longer than federal law permits
  • Over-correction by the truck driver
  • Inexperienced drivers who do not know how to properly handle the vehicle

Most truck drivers are legally allowed to drive up to 11 hours in a day. Those who drive more than this may falsify their driving logs, in case they are checked by federal authorities. An experienced lawyer knows the industry tricks that trucking companies tend to use and what evidence to look for to prove violations of regulations.

Trucking Companies and Liability

Trucking companies may be held accountable for the negligence displayed by their drivers. Under the legal principle of “vicarious liability” employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees that fall within the scope and course of their employment.

However, many truck drivers are considered independent contractors and not actual employees of the trucking company. They take work on a job-by-job basis. However, federal regulations can help victims hold the trucking company legally responsible for collisions caused by independent contractor drivers. 

Additionally, trucking companies may be held liable if the accident was caused by a bad hire, such as a driver who was inexperienced, had a poor driving record, had a sleep disorder, or was dependent on drugs. 

Tactics Used by Trucking Company Insurers

As a multi-billion-dollar industry, insurance companies that insure commercial trucking establishments are known to do everything in their power to minimize or deny claims. Common tactics they use include:

  • Offering a settlement immediately after the accident before a victim has a chance to consult with a lawyer
  • Delaying payments so the claimant will be desperate and accept a lowball offer
  • Convincing victims to make a recorded statement that can be used against them
  • Offering a low amount immediately after the accident when the victim is still recovering or possibly under the influence of pain medication
  • Destroying or “losing” evidence, such as driver’s logs or black box data

Learn More About Your Rights

If you have been injured in a serious truck accident, it is important that you quickly retain the services of a qualified lawyer. A Sacramento truck accident lawyer from our firm can promptly secure evidence supporting your case, such as investigating the accident scene, and collecting black box data and driving logs to prove the driver or his or her employer was negligent.

Since we work on a contingency-fee basis, we do not charge any upfront fees. We only get paid for our services if we help you recover compensation for your claim, so there is no risk in contacting us to discuss your legal options.

Call (916) 777-7777 now for our free consultation.