San Antonio Truck Accident Lawyer : Texas Auto Accident Injury Firm
Our Truck Accident Attorneys can Help You Recover Compensation Following a Truck Accident
We understand exactly how traumatic the physical and emotional injuries that come from the result of a truck accident can be. In our many years of experience the San Antonio truck accident lawyers at Ford and Laurel have seen many truck accident victims that were hesitant to take legal actions because they had no idea on how to place a price on their injuries, and because being involved in a truck accident claim could cause them to have to relive the accident.
It might not be a pleasant process, but as you will find in this article, acting quickly is needed in order to be successful in a truck accident claim.
A truck accident lawsuit can act as a deterrent against negligent behavior in the future by punishing the parties that were responsible for a truck accident. The parties that have lost money in a truck accident lawsuit are less likely to do the same thing again in the future. When you want to get someone’s attention, going for their pocket book will get it done.WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR A TRUCK ACCIDENT?
Who is Responsible
Trying to determine who is responsible for a truck accident is the best place to start when you are considering filing a truck accident lawsuit. There are many parties that take part in getting a truck ready for its deliveries, so there could be more than one party that was negligent in a truck accident case. A San Antonio truck accident lawyer can use the experience of their involvement in these types of accident cases in the past to help in making a determination on an accident’s cause and those who were responsible. There is any number of parties that could have been negligent in a truck accident and these include the truck driver, the trucking company, a truck or trailer manufacturer, a route planning company, a cargo loading company or any number of other third parties. Following are just a few of the parties that might be responsible in a truck accident case:
The truck driver – Truck drivers spend many hours traveling up and down the roadway and in most truck accident cases it is the driver that is liable for all or part of a truck accident. Truck drivers can be responsible for an accident with intentionally negligent behavior such as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving faster than the posted speed limit, running through stop signs, or swerving between lanes. Other times, truck accidents happen because of a truck driver’s fatigue. There are federally mandated laws that require a truck driver to take rest breaks but many times a truck driver will ignore these laws in order to maintain a trucking company’s strict deadline. Studies have shown that the odds of a truck driver being involved in an accident double after truck driver has been behind the wheel for more than eight straight hours and 20% of truck drivers admitted to having fallen asleep at the wheel more than once in the 30 days preceding the study. No matter if the truck driver’s negligence was intentional or accidental, if it was this negligence that led to the accident in which you received your injuries; the truck driver can be named as a defendant in a lawsuit.
The trucking company – Texas law allows for the legal doctrine of respondeat superior, which holds that an employer is responsible for the actions or inaction of their employees while on the job. If it was the truck driver’s negligence that caused your accident then the trucking company is also responsible. If a truck driver has a history of DUI convictions and caused an accident because of drunken driving, the trucking company would be liable for any injuries received in the accident.
The trucking company does not have to be present when an accident occurs in order to be held liable for the negligence of one of its drivers. This means that if the truck driver behaved in a negligent manner that the trucking company can be named as a defendant in a lawsuit. This can be very beneficial for an accident victim since the trucking company is usually in a better financial position to make full and fair compensation to an accident victim in a truck accident case.
A manufacturer – Commercial vehicles and their trailers are made up of thousands of parts which must work in unison in order for a big rig to operate safely. A part that does not perform properly or in the way in which it was intended can cause an accident. If this part’s malfunction was because of a design flaw or a manufacturer error and causes an accident, then an accident victim can seek compensation from the manufacturer.
A route planning company – Not every road or highway is designed for commercial vehicles and very often bridges will have weight and height restrictions. To make certain of a truck’s safe route, trucking companies will often use a route planning company in order to ensure a trucks safe trip. If the route planning company designs a route that is dangerous or unsuitable for a commercial vehicle then that route planning company can be named as a defendant in a lawsuit.
A cargo loading company – Sometimes the company that owns the cargo will load the truck themselves and other times the trucking company will use an outside company to get a truck’s cargo loaded. If the company that loads the truck’s cargo does so in an improper manner and it leads to a truck accident, the cargo loading company would be responsible for any injuries. By law, trucks are limited to 80,000 pounds of cargo but many companies will try to carry more than the limit in order to reduce the cost of deliveries. This weight limit was established because a truck that is overloaded stands a much greater chance of overturning and causing great damage if an accident occurs.
If the cargo loading company does not properly secure the cargo it can come loose during transport and a shift in the cargo can cause a truck’s trailer to overturn and lead to an accident. In the case of flatbed trucks, cargo that is loaded improperly can spill onto the roadway and cause a great deal of damage to other drivers on the road.
Any of these parties, or any combination of these parties, could have been responsible or partially responsible for causing the truck accident in which you were injured. You will need the help of an experienced San Antonio truck accident lawyer to help determine the accident’s cause and in identifying every possible defendant so you will get the full and fair compensation you deserve from every party that was involved in your accident.A PROMPT AND THOROUGH INVESTIGATION
In order to get the evidence that you will need against all responsible parties and to prove your case following a truck accident, it will be necessary to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation. Because there could be so many parties that have contributed to the cause of an accident, you will need an investigation in order to determine every party that is responsible and the portion of their negligence. It will take evidence to persuade the jury to rule in your favor and evidence can begin to disappear quickly following an accident. You will need the help of a San Antonio truck accident lawyer as quickly as possible after an accident has occurred. Every moment that passes without legal representation can do serious damage to your case because the evidence you will need could be vanishing, witnesses memories can fade, and video surveillance can be deleted, and an accident scene will quickly go back to normal, so traffic can flow once again.
Our San Antonio truck accident lawyers at Ford and Laurel have more than two decades of experience in investigating truck accident cases. When we are hired, we will get to an accident scene as quickly as possible at no out of pocket cost to our clients so we can gather the evidence needed to prove our client’s case. We will do what is necessary to find the true cause of an accident, such as securing and inspecting every vehicle involved, taking photos and measurements, locating video evidence, obtaining police reports, performing forensic tests, locating and interviewing witnesses, and gathering all the needed evidence in a way that it can be admissible in court.
More than likely, you are already behind the defendant’s team in their investigation of an accident. Usually, trucking and insurance companies send their investigators to the scene of an accident as soon as the truck driver reports it. These defense investigators are not interested in determining the true cause of an accident, they are only there to gather any evidence that might be used to show that you were responsible for the accident. Without the help of an attorney on the scene, performing an investigation on your behalf, you have no way of knowing if these defense investigators are conducting their investigation ethically and not tampering with any evidence. If these investigators can locate any type of evidence that shows you were negligent, they will deny your claim completely if they can prove that you alone are responsible or greatly diminished the amount of compensation you receive if they can find proof that it was your negligence that was a contributing factor in the accident.OBSTACLES IN A TRUCK ACCIDENT CASE
If you have filed an insurance claim in a regular passenger vehicle accident it does not mean that you will be able to handle a truck accident lawsuit on your own. Truck insurance policies are usually valued at about 50 times more than a regular car insurance policy. Because of the huge amount of these truck insurance policies, the legal process in settling a truck accident is a great deal more complex than a regular car accident case. The plaintiff that tries to save money on lawyer’s fees by working on a case themselves will usually end up costing themselves much more money than they saved because their compensation is decreased or completely denied. People without legal experience and inexperienced lawyers are very often frustrated by some of the common obstacles involved in a truck accident lawsuit, such as establishing the burden of proof, the huge size of insurance policies, self-insured trucking companies, and truck drivers that lie.BURDEN OF PROOF
By law, the defendant or defendants do not owe you anything for your injuries in a truck accident case until you, the plaintiff, provide proof that forces them to compensate. In order to get full and fair compensation for your injuries, you will have to prove your case by providing evidence. Even when a case can be settled through a settlement agreement, you will need evidence in order to get the defense or the trucking insurance company to negotiate in good faith. There are four main elements you will have to establish in your truck accident case. These elements are:
Duty – The first thing you will have to prove is that you were owed a duty of care to ensure your safety by the defendant. Legal duty has been established by law for what is specifically owed depending on the circumstances and parties involved and their relationship. In San Antonio truck accident cases it is usually fairly easy to meet this requirement since all drivers must drive in the manner that a reasonable person would in order to protect the safety of other drivers, pedestrians and passengers while on the road.
Breach – The next element that you will have to provide evidence for is that the defendant or defendants breached the duty of care that you were owed. This usually happens when the defendant puts others in harm’s way by acting in a way that a reasonable person would not act or not take action when a reasonable person would take some action. You will need to provide evidence that shows the defendant ignored their legal duty of care through their actions or inaction to prove the defendant breach of their duty of care. You will need the help of a San Antonio big rig accident attorney that knows how to present the facts in order to prove to a jury that the defendant or defendants was negligent.
Causation – After you have provided evidence that the defendant or defendants breached the duty of care which you were owed, you will have to provide evidence that your injuries were directly caused by the defendant or defendants breach of their duty of care. Because there are so many parties that could have played a role, or caused a truck accident it will take strong evidence to convince a jury that a causal relationship was established between a defendant’s breach of his duty which you were owed and the harm you received as a result. If you cannot provide the evidence then the defendant will defeat your claim by placing the blame on to another party or on to you. The defendant’s best chance in avoiding fault is to place the responsibility for the accident on the victim by claiming it was the victim’s own negligent behavior that caused his or her injuries.
Damages – Once you have proven the first three elements in your truck accident lawsuit, you will have to prove the damages that you are owed for your injuries by the defendant or defendants. Damages are not that the injuries you received or your property damage. Instead, damages are the monetary compensation that you are owed by the defendant for causing your injuries. The plaintiff in a truck accident case can receive damages for things such as medical and repair bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other types of losses that were incurred in a truck accident.
It’s not enough just to ask in court to be compensated, you will have to provide evidence that shows the total monetary value of the damages you received. A defendant will argue the compensation amount that you are requesting and will usually come up with an amount of damages that will be a great deal lower than any amount that you are seeking. It will take solid evidence to show that the defendant’s damages calculation is an attempt to evade their responsibility and that your calculations are the full and fair amount.
Calculating the true worth of your case can be very difficult since damages such as pain and suffering or loss of earning capacity can be very subjective. A non-attorney or an inexperienced attorney can have a very difficult time in placing a dollar amount for these types of damages. In court, you will only have one attempt to get the full and fair compensation that you deserve. So it is always best to have the help of an experienced truck accident lawyer. At Ford and Laurel – we have spent more than 20 years calculating damages and we have probably been involved in cases similar to yours so we know how to consider all of your losses and calculate the amount of compensation it will take to give you the full and fair restitution you deserve.
If you are not able to prove even one of these four elements you will lose your chance at getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries. You will need the assistance of a San Antonio truck accident lawyer, particularly if your case goes to trial. More than 20 years of experience in working truck accident cases has helped our lawyers in developing strong legal strategies that will meet your burden of proof and persuade a jury to find in your favor.HIGH DOLLAR INSURANCE POLICIES
The federal government requires the trucking companies carry large insurance policies to protect against commercial vehicle accidents that can happen because of doing business with big rigs. Many times, people will assume that they can receive compensation for their injuries in a truck accident case fairly easily. This is usually not the case at all. Because trucking insurance policies are often valued at 50 times more than a regular passenger vehicle insurance policy, trucking insurance companies will devote 50 times the energy and resources in order to defend these trucking policies.
Because a trucking insurance company stands to lose so much money they will use their most aggressive and qualified insurance claims adjusters in settlement negotiations. You probably do not have any experience with truck accident claims, but these claims adjusters are the most experienced in their field and work with these types of cases exclusively. They are expert in using an accident victim’s initial shock and a victim’s experience with their friendly neighborhood insurance worker in the past against them to find a way to deny an accident victim’s claim. They will use a friendly demeanor to try to convince an accident victim that they are only trying to assist them in getting compensation and will ask the victim to just answer a few basic questions. You should know that these claims adjusters have no desire in helping you. Their main concern is protecting the insurance company’s profits by seeing to it that your claim is denied, or greatly reduced. They will barrage you with questions over and over in an attempt to get you to somehow say something that can be misconstrued as an admission of your own liability in the accident. If they can find anything in your answers that can be taken as an admission of responsibility they will turn down your claim. The less contact you have with an insurance claims adjuster, the better off you will be so you will need an experienced San Antonio commercial vehicle accident attorney that can put a stop to the barrage of questions from an insurance claims adjuster. As a matter of fact, we tell our clients that they should not speak with a representative of an insurance company without legal representation at all. If you hire Ford and Laurel -, our attorneys will handle every conversation with the insurance company to protect you and your legal rights.
Sometimes an aggressive claims adjuster will try to persuade an accident victim to give up their legal right to sue in return for a small settlement offer. It can be beneficial to avoid the stress and uncertainty of a jury trial to accept a good settlement offer but accepting a poor settlement offer can do a great deal of damage to your case. It will take an experienced attorney that has a history of success in getting an insurance company to make a fair settlement because the insurance company stands to lose even more money if a case goes to trial.
An insurance company might also try to escape responsibility for your injuries by using skilled defense attorneys that will use any legal loophole or procedural obstacle that might cause a plaintiff to lose their chance at getting compensation. It takes an experienced San Antonio truck accident lawyer to battle head-to-head with these defensive specialists. Our attorneys have won verdicts and settlements against just about every major insurance company in the country and we know how to respond to any of their legal tricks.SELF-INSURED TRUCKING COMPANIES
All trucking companies are required by law to carry insurance policies on the trucks in their fleets, but some of these companies will choose to set aside a portion of their assets to use as insurance in a trucking accident rather than to buy standard insurance policies. The federal government regulates the insurance industry and requires that all insurance companies be registered, their claims adjusters to be licensed, and that they follow a set of ethical guidelines but self-insured trucking companies have no such regulations to play by the ethical rules. Because of this, self-insured trucking companies have earned a reputation for acting in a dishonest manner and for being very difficult to negotiate with. Very often when negotiating a settlement with the self-insured trucking company, you will be speaking with an officer from the trucking company. This officer very likely gets a portion of their income from a trucking company’s profits. This means that if they can turn down your claim they will be making more money for themselves and their company. In this instance, the trucking company’s officer will always put the trucking companies and their own interest before yours. They will often act in unethical ways, such as harassing witnesses, tampering with evidence, and even threatening an accident victim.
If the trucking company involved in your accident is self-insured and is trying to push you around, you can put a stop to this behavior with the help of a San Antonio, big rig accident lawyer. When we are hired, our attorneys can make a self-insured trucking company negotiate in good faith through the threat of legal action.DISHONEST TRUCK DRIVERS
Everyone would like to believe that people are basically kind and honest but a truck driver that has been responsible for causing injuries in a truck accident has a strong incentive to lie. If it can be established that the truck driver is responsible for other’s injuries by driving in a negligent manner then most likely the truck driver is going to lose their job. A truck driver that has been found negligent will have a very difficult time getting another job in the future. In our current job market, and the state of our economy, many times a truck driver that might otherwise be an honest person will lie in an attempt to save their job and their livelihood. In order to win your case and get the compensation you deserve, you will have to prove that a truck driver is lying.
The San Antonio truck accident lawyers at Ford and Laurel – are very good at investigating an accident in order to gather the evidence that is needed to expose a truck driver’s lies. We can show that a truck driver is not a credible witness through the available evidence.
Much in the way that insurance claims adjusters will try to get an accident victim to admit their own negligence through a barrage of questions, our attorneys can also formulate a set of questions to be used in a deposition that will often get a truck driver to admit to their lies. The San Antonio truck accident lawyers at Ford and Laurel – have deposed thousands of witnesses in our more than 20 years of experience and we know how to ask the proper questions to prove that a truck driver is being dishonest. Ford and Laurel – CAN HELP YOU
If you or someone you care about has been injured in it truck accident in San Antonio, you will need the help of an experienced attorney that can protect your legal rights and assist you in getting the full and fair compensation you deserve. From start to finish, our attorneys will take care of every detail of your case and keep you updated on any developments that arise.
The defendant in your case has probably already completed their investigation and has begun to build their case against you. Any delay in obtaining an experienced truck accident attorney can greatly damage your chance at getting the full and fair compensation that you deserve for your injuries. Contact Ford and Laurel – today for a free and confidential consultation to find out how we can help you like we have assisted hundreds of other Texans in the past.