Truck Accident FAQ
Gets the Facts from A Lexington Truck Accident Lawyer
No one is prepared for the chaos and confusion that can follow preventable auto accidents, especially those involving commercial trucks. Due to the unique nature of truck accident cases, as well as the greater potential for serious injuries, victims harmed in these wrecks often have many questions when initiating civil legal action.
At Goeing Goeing & McQuinn PLLC, our Lexington personal injury lawyers have helped clients across Kentucky recover millions of dollars in compensation following preventable wrecks. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to handle tough accident cases, as well as the compassion and commitment to ensure our clients are always our number one priority.
If you or your loved one has been hurt in a wreck involving a commercial truck or tractor-trailer, we encourage you to discuss the unique facts of your case personally with a member of our team. If you’re still unsure about your rights and the legal process ahead, take a moment to get the facts by reading some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from accident victims.
Do I have a truck accident case?
Whether or not you have valid grounds to pursue a personal injury claim following a truck accident, or a wrongful death claim, will depend on the unique facts surrounding your accident and whether they meet legal elements required of civil torts, or claims that allege negligence. These claims focus on a few important factors:
- A legal duty existed – Truckers and trucking companies have a legal duty to ensure they operate safely and do not post unreasonable risks to the public. This means complying with laws and regulations and taking reasonable measures to safely operate a rig. When truckers are on public roads and highways, they have an obligation of safety for other motorists.
- The duty was breached – When drivers or companies fail to meet safety requirements, drive drunk or fatigued, or are otherwise negligent, they put the public at risk of suffering harm in preventable wrecks. Victims harmed in these wrecks may have a right to pursue legal action when truckers or trucking companies fail to uphold their legal duty.
- Causation – Victims must be able to further prove that the trucker or trucking company’s breach of duty more likely than not caused them harm. For example, a failure to properly secure cargo is a breach of duty that can cause harm when cargo falls from a truck and into the path of a moving car.
- Damages – When all elements of negligent and causation have been met, victims will also need to demonstrate that they suffered actual damages as a result of their wreck, including any economic and non-economic damages.
What is the value of my case?
This is a question we hear from clients all the time, and unfortunately, it is not an easy one to answer. The value of your case ultimately depends on many unique factors. While it is difficult to estimate a total value, especially when you do not yet know the full scope of your injuries, treatment, or expenses, you can better understand case value by understanding the type of compensation you are eligible to recover. This includes damages for economic losses, such as past and future medical expenses, lost work wages and future earnings, costs of therapy or rehabilitation, and more. Victims may also recover compensation for non-economic damages, which can include pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of quality or enjoyment of life. Our legal team pays close attention to the full scope of how accidents and injuries impact our clients’ lives, as well as the lives of their loved ones, in order to pursue the maximum compensation possible.
What are common causes of truck wrecks?
Truck wrecks can have many different causes, which is why thorough investigations are critical when victims choose to exercise their legal rights and bring civil action for damages. Our attorneys explore all potential causes to determine whether the wreck could and should have been prevented if not for negligence. Some of the most common causes of wrecks we have handled include trucking regulation violations, unsecure cargo, poorly maintained vehicles, negligent hiring or retention of unsafe drivers, truck driver fatigue or impairment, and more.
Are truckers or trucking companies liable?
Employment relationships can vary between trucking companies and their drivers. If a driver is an employee, however, the trucking company is ultimately responsible for their actions. This means that when drivers are negligent and cause accidents, victims can pursue compensation through claims against the trucking operator. Still, they will be required to prove all elements of a negligence claim in order to successfully make a recovery of their damages.
How does truck accident litigation differ from car accident litigation?
The trucking industry expects litigation involving semi-truck collisions so trucking companies are prepared when an accident occurs. There are many trucking collisions where the trucking company has investigators on the scene at the same time that emergency response teams and law enforcement agencies are investigating. Violations of trucking industry regulations are the most typical basis for liability in a trucking case so trucking accident injury attorneys must take prompt action to prevent evidence of such violations from being lost. The trucking company may repair the big-rig or repair brakes that have not been inspected as required. In some cases, a commercial carrier may even place the semi-truck back into operation so that information stored on the tractor-trailer's event recorder, which is like a black boxes on an airplane, is lost and unavailable as evidence of fault or causation.
Which agencies are responsible for regulating the trucking industry?
The primary agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry at the federal level is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) whereas multiple agencies share this responsibility in Kentucky. Many collisions involving 18-wheelers are caused by the disregard of safety regulations enacted by these agencies.
Some of most common types of regulatory violations that cause trucking accidents include:
- Failure to conduct inspection and maintenance of tractor-trailers
- Violation of anti-fatigue rules (i.e. hours of service rules)
- Improper loading or overloading of semi-trucks
- Exceeding speed limits or violating other Kentucky traffic laws
- Lack of compliance with drug and alcohol screening requirements
- Inadequate screening, training or supervision of big-rig drivers
- Unsafe route selection including curvy mountain roads with steep grades
What role do driver logbooks play in trucking accident litigation in Kentucky?
Because driver fatigue is one of the leading causes of semi-truck crashes, driver logbooks that document behind the wheel time, as well as other on-duty time, are often critical in proving that a collision was attributable to driver fatigue. However, these logs are often inaccurate and manipulated so that other evidence must be used to verify the accuracy of the logbook. Our experienced truck accident attorneys typically review data from a big-rig's black box, fuel and lodging receipts, tire purchase receipts, email correspondence and other information to expose inconsistencies in a driver logbook.
Do I need an attorney?
Trucking accident cases are highly complex, and they demand the attention of seasoned lawyers. While you are not required to have legal representation when filing a personal injury claim, it is important to remember that trucking companies and their insurance providers are businesses intent on making money. As such, they commonly put profits over people when disputing, denying, or underpaying claims. With proven lawyers on your side, you can level the playing field and reduce risks of being unfairly compensated when you need it most.
Have questions about your rights in relation to your accident? Speak with a member of our legal team at Goeing Goeing & McQuinn PLLC during a FREE consultation. Call (859) 534-9327 to get started.