Over five thousand deaths and over 200,000 serious injuries occur each year as the result of collisionsbetween 18-wheeler trucks and passenger vehicles. While there are certain steps you must take immediately following any accident, there are also unique issues involved in filing a claim for your trucking accident. A trucking accident is almost always seriousand therefore traumatic for the victims. When an 80,000 pound truck collides with a 3,000 pound passenger vehicle, fatalities or serious injury are likely. In some cases the truck may be loaded with a hazardous cargo which will compound the devastation caused by the accident.
Just as with a car accident, the police must be notified and medical attention sought for any injuries. If you or a passenger are able, photographs of the scene of the accident, the vehicles involved, license plate numbers of any witnesses who stop at the scene, debris or vehicle parts, and other photos can be invaluable later on. Additionally, you should take notes describing every detail of the accident—even those which may not seem pertinent now but could become important later on. Trucking companies routinely dispatch adjusters or investigators to the accident scene, to your home, or even to your hospital room. We always advise our clients to refuse any statement to these agents, until you have obtained legal advice from an attorney experienced in handling trucking accident cases. These individuals are trained to ask you questions in a certain way, while you are both untrained in their field and recovering from the occurrence of a serious accident. Trucking accident claims are rarely resolved quickly, which is unfortunate for the victims of the accident. Some delay occurs because it often takes many months for the injured victim to know how well he or she will heal, the total cost of medical bills, how much future treatment will be required, and whether they can maintain their previous occupation. If the case goes to trial, the victims may be forced to wait a year or more for a judgment, which can leave them in a very vulnerable state for a considerable amount of time. Having an experienced attorney by your side from the beginning can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
The first thing your attorney will do is to begin collecting evidence to prove liability. There may be a variety of defendants in your case including the truck driver, the trucking company, the manufacturer of the truck or truck components, the loading company, or the maintenance company. In some cases highway defects or roadway construction contribute to the cause of the accident, and a construction company and governmental entities may also be named as defendants. Your attorney will determine which one—or ones—were responsible for your accident by gathering log books of the truck driver, safety and personnel records from the trucking company, documentation of the driver’s training and qualifications, statements from any potential witnesses, any construction records, and photographs of the accident site. Additionally, your attorney will likely subpoena the “black box” from the truck in order to determine what the truck driver was doing immediately preceding the accident.
Once all evidence is collected, and we know all of the damages you have and will sustain, your attorney will send a demand letter to the negligent party or parties. This gives the defendants notice of your intent to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for damages. This demand letter will give the defendant’s a specific time in which to respond, and will also state the amount you will accept in order to settle the case in lieu of a trial. Of course, your attorney will request payment of an amount that he recommends to you, and that you are satisfied with. The demand amount will typically include a request for payment for pain and suffering, mental anguish, all past and future medical expenses, any lost wages or loss of earning capacity, and any loss of enjoyment of life you may have or will experience. The defendants can make a counteroffer or accept the original offer. If there is no chance of a mutually agreeable settlement, your attorney will file a formal petition and your lawsuit will begin.
Handling a trucking accident case through trial can be a lengthy process during which time your medical bills may be mounting alarmingly and you may be unable to return to work. Even if you have medical insurance you are typically required to pay a portion of the charges, and some treatments are not covered by some health insurers. . It will be your attorney’s job to ensure that the jury fully understands the extent of the damages you have suffered from the trucking accident. You and other witnesses will testify and your attorney may call expert witnesses in order to prove certain elements of your case. Experts your attorney retains may include those in the fields of accident reconstruction, trucking company safety, truck driving, any physicians that treat you, vocational rehabilitation experts, economists, life care planners, and other experts. Although the wait may be long, in most cases injured parties are awarded an equitable judgment which covers their medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering, mental anguish, and other damages. .
The Necessity of Qualified Legal Help
Handling a Louisiana trucking accident claim on your own is rarely ever a good idea. There are simply too many complexities involved and too much at stake for most people to take such a risk. Gary P. Koederitz is a Louisiana attorney at Koederitz Law Firm with over thirty years of experience helping people injured in trucking and other accidents. We want to help you through this time from start to finish. We will ensure that you get the medical treatment you need, and we will handle every aspect of your case. We understand that you need time to heal and we will work hard for you and for your future. Call (225) 295-9494 today to speak to an experienced attorney.