What is a truck accident attorney in Columbus and how can they help a victim of this specific type of crash? While a personal injury attorney can help you win fair compensation in the most common cases of traffic accidents, a truck accident has specific compensations. First of all, you are not only dealing with a negligent driver, but also with big trucking companies. Their interests are protected by even bigger insurance companies, which know every tactic in the book to dissuade truck injury victims from filing a claim. This is where the experience and professionalism of Columbus truck accident attorneys, such as the ones at Babin Law, can be very useful.
At our law firm, we focus on identifying all the liable parties for the accident in an attempt to win the maximum compensation allowed by personal injury law in Ohio. We will support and advise you through the entire process of filing a truck accident claim. And, if we cannot reach a reasonable agreement with trucking companies, we will represent you in a personal injury lawsuit.
A Trucking Accident Attorney Knows the Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents
The causes of a truck crash have a major impact on who you can pursue for compensation. Truck drivers may be the obvious fault party, but accident victims may also pursue other entities for their economic and non-economic damages.
In most of the cases, the truck accident victims who came to our law firm to seek financial compensation for their medical bills and other economic losses were victims of driver error. These empirical findings are in line with statistical data collected by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which states that most types of truck accidents are due to:
- driver decision - 38%
- poor recognition - 28%
- driver non-performance - 12%
- driver performance - 9%
Other accident causes are vehicle malfunction (10%) and poor weather or road conditions (3%).
Let us talk in detail about each type of truck accident:
1. Driver Distraction
Truck drivers should be extra careful behind the wheel because their vehicle is hundreds of times larger and heavier than other vehicles. Thus, it is more difficult to maneuver and it takes a longer distance to come to a full stop. However, negligent truck drivers make phone calls or text while they are behind the wheel of semi-trucks, or fiddle with instruments on the dashboard (the entertainment or navigational systems).
Even a second of not paying attention to the road ahead may cause an auto accident.
Many commercial truck drivers exceed the maximum speed because they have very short delivery deadlines. If they fail to meet them, they may lose their jobs. However, speeding is dangerous even in the case of a normal car accident. When an 80,000 pounds truck is driven at a very high speed, the risk of accident is even higher and with more devastating consequences.
3. Fatigued Driver
Driver fatigue is very common among truck drivers. Although the FMCSA set clear rules concerning the hours of service and the mandatory breaks commercial drivers should take, many trucking companies force their drivers to skip these breaks.
Thus, many drivers behind the wheels of semi-trucks have not taken a break in 18 hours or even more. This negligent conduct is not entirely attributable to the driver. A truck accident attorney in Columbus will strive to hold trucking companies accountable for the severe injuries or wrongful death caused by their overworked employees.
4. Aggressive Driving
You recognize aggressive drivers on the road. They honk, speed, tailgate, and change lanes frequently. When they are in charge of commercial vehicles, this behavior is extremely dangerous. In many cases, experienced lawyers will make an attempt to prove that the respective driver had a long history of traffic violations connected with aggressive driving. By failing to conduct proper background checks, trucking companies are guilty of several forms of negligence, including negligent hiring.
5. Poor Truck Maintenance
All the vehicles should be deemed roadworthy before they are allowed on public roads. This means that trucking companies should ensure that all their vehicles are in good condition. When a critical part, such as a tire or the breaks, malfunctions while the vehicle is on the road, even an experienced and careful truck driver cannot avoid an accident. In this instance, the cause of the accident is not a negligent truck driver, but their employer.
An experienced truck accident lawyer will seek out all the evidence necessary to prove this and hold the commercial driver's employer and any other responsible parties liable, including the maintenance shop that failed to identify and fix a defect or the producers and suppliers of a defective part.
How Columbus Truck Accident Attorneys May Help You Win Your Case
Even though the facts are clear and Ohio personal injury law is on your side, proving your case in court or reaching a favorable decision during settlement negotiations for a truck accident claim is not easy. Insurance carriers representing truck companies and logistics companies will start working to disprove your case as soon as you are taken away from the accident scene.
Hiring an experienced trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible to investigate your accident, file your truck accident claim and discuss on your behalf with the claims adjuster may help your case.
Here are the steps a lawyer will take after your devastating truck accident:
1. Determine the Circumstances of the Crash
The lawyer will try to determine exactly how the accident happened. This will help them determine the degree of fault of the careless driver, as well as cargo company negligence. In order to do so, the attorney will:
- get a copy of the accident report prepared by the police at the accident scene
- obtain the driver's log to determine whether they skipped a mandatory break
- obtain eyewitness accounts
- find expert witnesses, including accident reconstruction specialists
2. Assess the Extent and Severity of Your Injuries
In general, 18-wheeler and semi-truck accidents leave victims with very severe, sometimes fatal injuries. The impact between a large truck and a regular passenger vehicle results in devastating damage. In our experience as personal injury attorneys, many of our clients suffered:
In some cases, the accident victim dies, and the lawyer will guide the family and assist them in filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In other cases, the victim is left with lifelong disabilities and will require constant assistance with activities of daily living.
3. Evaluate the Economic and Non-Economic Losses
The next step before starting the claim process is determining the amount that the accident victim should receive in compensation for the losses caused by the truck collision. These compensable damages are:
- economic losses: costly hospital bills, lost wages additional bills for medical care and physical therapy
- non-economic losses: reduced enjoyment of life, emotional pain, mental anguish, chronic pain
- punitive damages: if the truck driver is deemed to have acted with gross negligence, the court may award exemplary damages at the end of a personal injury lawsuit
4. Filing Your Claim on Time
The truck accident attorney in Columbus knows that the statute of limitations in Ohio for taking legal action is 2 years after the date of your accident. For this reason, the lawyer will send the demand letter as soon as possible to the insurance company.
This will give your legal team sufficient time to negotiate an acceptable settlement amount. If these negotiations do not reach a satisfactory conclusion, the Columbus trucking accident attorney will need time for further evidence gathering and preparing your case for court.
5. Representing You in a Personal Injury Lawsuit
If the lawyers cannot win compensation for trucking accidents in an out-of-court settlement, they will instruct accident victims to file a personal injury lawsuit. This is the last option, and it generally happens when the insurance company believes they can win the case or if they want to avoid setting a precedent.
However, even if they claim and can prove that you were partly at fault for your accident, it does not mean that you will not win the case. The state of Ohio applies the contributory fault principle to personal injury cases. This means that, as long as you are less than 50% at fault for your accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your economic losses and non-economic damages. The actual amount you will receive will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Thus, when a person is 20% at fault and their damages are evaluated at $100,000, the person will collect $80,000 in damages.
What Truck Accident Victims Should Do to Maximize the Chances of Success
As we explained in this article, negligent behavior by trucking companies is only exceeded by the devious tactics of their insurance companies to avoid paying compensatory amounts. They will try to use every single thing against you.
For this reason, it is important to know how to act after a truck accident:
1. Call 9-1-1
The first thing you must do is seek medical attention and notify the police. In most cases, you will have to give a short statement to the law enforcement officers, unless your condition is critical and you have to be taken directly to the hospital by ambulance. Do not make any admissions of fault or express regret in the statement given to the police officers.
2. Do Not Discuss with an Insurance Adjuster
Insurance adjusters will know about your accident within hours and will come directly to your hospital bed as soon as you are allowed to receive visitors. Do not let them persuade them to accept a settlement amount and do not make any statements.
3. Discuss Your Case with a Truck Accident Attorney in Columbus
At Babin Law, our Columbus truck accident attorneys can give you a free case review and inform you of your legal options. Our goal is to win the maximum compensation you are entitled to receive for your pain, suffering, and losses. Let us protect your rights: 833-SURVIVORS!