For Truck Accident Victims
When small cars, trucks, and SUVs try to compete with semi-trucks, they rarely win. Semi-trucks are notorious for causing some of the most serious and life-altering traffic accidents on roads today. People who have been involved in truck accidents often experience serious injuries or death. In 2018 alone, large trucks in Louisiana caused 95 fatal accidents and 2,961 injurious crashes. Louisiana has strict laws and regulations on owning and operating commercial vehicles—even down to the size of the lettering of a company’s logo on the side of a truck (Louisiana Civil Code Section 651). The state’s laws regarding liability insurance for owners and operators of commercial vehicles are even more complex and detailed. For example, Louisiana Civil Code Section 1503 states that a commercial vehicle carrying goods with a gross weight of twenty-four thousand pounds must continuously carry a minimum of $300,000 in public liability insurance and $200,000 in property damage insurance. In-depth understanding of such complex laws is overwhelming, but necessary after a serious roadside accident involving a truck.
At the Law Office of Andrew R. Schwing, in New Orleans, we are prepared to handle these serious cases. From the moment we take a case, we begin preparing it for trial. Our years of experience and comprehensive knowledge help us to form the best strategy to recover the most compensation for your truck accident claim. We work with a team, including accident reconstruction specialists, and medical and trucking experts, to uncover evidence in support of your claim and are committed to holding the proper parties accountable for their negligence.
Why Do Truck Accidents Happen?
There are many reasons why truck accidents happen. The ten most common reasons for truck accidents are:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Fatigue, caused by driving too many hours without legally-required breaks and sleep
- Driving while distracted by onboard GPS or other technology
- Speeding or breaking other traffic laws
- Defective truck parts or mechanical problems
- Failure to properly maintain the semi-truck
- Lack of training by the trucking company, which can include overloading trucks, making speeding even more dangerous
- Wheel blowout, which can cause lack of control of the truck
- Jackknifing, where the trailer swings around to become perpendicular to the front of the truck and
- Under-riding, where the bumper of the truck does not meet regulations, and a smaller car can go underneath the rear bumper of the truck
It can be difficult to tell the exact cause of a truck accident without an in-depth investigation. That is part of what makes truck accident cases such complex lawsuits for attorneys to handle. Furthermore, it is important to make sure you bring a claim against all responsible parties. Louisiana Civil Code 291 states that if the driver of a commercial truck operates the vehicle in any illegal manner (e.g., if the truck is over its maximum weight, even if a special permit has been granted), they will be personally liable for all damages to a highway or structure that results from their conduct. However, Louisiana Civil Code 291 has a caveat: if the operator of the vehicle is not the owner, but they are operating the vehicle with the express permission of the owner, then the owner of the vehicle will be jointly liable for the damage.
Due to the nature of commercial vehicles, multiple parties are often involved. A truck driver, for example, might blame the trucking company for failing to properly maintain the truck. Furthermore, the trucking company might blame the truck manufacturer for creating a defective truck. All of these parties may become involved in the lawsuit, adding to the complexity of the case. Additionally, they may all reside or do business in different states, so the matter might be handled in a federal, not state, court. After an accident, it can be overwhelming to focus on legal matters as potential medical issues take precedence. It takes a tough legal team to focus on a winning strategy and achieve the best possible results for an injury victim. Working with an experienced firm, like the Law Office of Andrew R. Schwing, can help ensure you and your loved ones are provided with the support you need during this challenging time.
What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?
The best thing to do after a truck accident is to act quickly. Trucking companies and their insurers have processes in place for responding to truck crashes. The moment a crash is reported, they spring into action and send experts to the scene. Part of an insurance company’s strategy is getting you to agree to a low settlement as soon as possible—even before you know the full extent of the damage you’ve experienced. They try to do this because they want to minimize how much they pay out and they know that in the days after a serious truck crash, most people feel overwhelmed, exhausted, and hurt. Arm yourself with an experienced legal team who can assist you in this challenging time.
After a truck accident, you should seek medical attention immediately, if necessary. Even if you do not believe that you are physically injured, it is wise to be examined by a medical professional following a truck accident. If you are able, collect as much evidence at the scene of the accident as you can, including photographs and witness statements. Then, you should retain legal representation. In most cases, if you have been injured due to the actions of a truck driver, a negligence claim will be filed on your behalf.
In truck accidents, negligence occurs when the truck driver did not drive in a manner in which they are required, according to state and federal rules. As an operator of a commercial vehicle, truck drivers are held to a standard of conduct, and violation of this conduct can result in accidents. There are five elements that must be proven in a negligence case: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Duty is the requirement of truck drivers to drive as a reasonably prudent truck driver under the circumstances, and breach of that duty is anything considered not safe, like running a red light. You must then prove that the truck driver’s conduct was the actual and proximate cause of your injuries. This means that the truck driver’s negligence must have been the cause-in-fact of your injuries and no intervening cause caused the accident. Lastly, you must prove that you incurred damages as a result of the driver’s negligence. This may include your injuries, medical bills, property damage, and even lost wages due to time off from work. To support this element, your attorney will compile advice about the nature and extent of each of your injuries and any and all expenses you incurred as a result of the accident. You may also be required to obtain an opinion about the cause of your injuries, as well as their nature and extent, from a medical expert.
Do not let trucking companies take advantage of you. If you’ve been injured—or someone you love has been hurt or killed—get an experienced legal team on your side as soon as possible. Your attorney can keep the trucking company and its insurer from exploiting you and your loved ones during this difficult time and ensure that you recover the compensation you are entitled to.
Get Someone on Your Side
After a Truck Accident
At the Law Office of Andrew R. Schwing, our experienced team focuses on protecting your rights and preparing your case after a truck accident. To get started, complete our contact form or call us at 504-613-0621. Consultations are free, confidential, and at no obligation to you or your loved ones. We serve clients in New Orleans, Houma, and throughout Louisiana.
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