Car accidents in general are disruptive, stressful, and confusing. However, when your accident involves an 18-wheeler, this can be an especially frustrating and draining time. Eighteen-wheeler accidents are typically much more severe than accidents between two smaller vehicles. These cases are often more complex and may require more diligence and persistence to obtain compensation, since the injuries are usually significant and it takes time and resources to fully understand all the people and companies who need to be held accountable.
Below are some of the common factors that play a part in 18-wheeler cases:
- Driver fatigue and motor carrier negligence. Commercial drivers are frequently encouraged to work long hours without adequate rest. Although the government mandates rest periods through Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, many carriers bend or even break these rules, encouraging drivers to falsify records about their rest periods and continue driving while fatigued. This practice is well documented, and in fact, 18-wheeler drivers have some of the highest on-the-job mortality and accident rates in the country. By ignoring rules that require rest, 18-wheeler motor carriers are acting negligently and can be held responsible for their behavior. However, proving potential negligence takes more time to investigate and more willingness to fight on the part of your lawyer — which is why it’s important to hire the right legal representation in these cases.
- Alcohol and drug use. Due to the demanding nature of their work, many 18-wheeler drivers abuse drugs and alcohol, and they may be driving under the influence of these substances. If alcohol or drug use is a factor in your case, police will generally initiate a criminal investigation, which can extend the length of your case by limiting access to important evidence. Pending criminal charges can also complicate your case, since it will involve both criminal proceedings and a separate civil suit for damages.
- Reckless driving. Along with driver fatigue and alcohol and drug use, many commercial 18-wheeler drivers engage in dangerous behaviors behind the wheel. For example, drivers may be eating, using their phones, or otherwise distracted while driving. Since drivers spend much of their lives on the road, it’s not uncommon for them to engage in distracting behaviors like these while they drive. They may also drive recklessly, speeding, tailgating, and unsafely changing lanes in order to reach their destination faster. Proving that these behaviors caused your injuries often takes the expertise of a skilled 18-wheeler accident attorney, and the specific facts leading up to your accident can have an impact on the value of your case.
- Severity of injuries. The injuries sustained by victims of 18-wheeler accidents are often quite serious, simply due to the size and weight of these large vehicles. Serious injuries bring high and long-term medical costs, other financial losses, and changes to the victim’s quality of life. Generally speaking, these types of losses, especially when permanent, demand a need for higher compensation. Anytime an insurance company faces potential liability for large damages, you can expect a harder fight before resolution. Without the counsel of an experienced personal injury lawyer that understands how to build a case, you can expect an insurance company will try to take advantage of you and pay you as little as possible.
- Multiple insurance policies. Drivers and motor carriers often carry their own separate insurance policies, which can complicate your case. You will need to identify all parties who might be legally accountable for your harms and losses to make sure you have a clear picture about what proceeds might be available to recover. In addition, your own auto insurance provider might be liable to pay a claim for injuries you sustain in an 18-wheeler accident. Navigating this aspect of an 18-wheeler accident case is one of the most valuable roles of a personal injury lawyer.
- Wrongful death cases. When an 18-wheeler accident results in a fatality, the surviving spouse, children and parents have the legal right to assert a claim for wrongful death. Because of the magnitude of this loss, it is critically important to fully understand your rights and what remedies are available under Texas law for a fatal 18-wheeler accident. Moreover, surviving family members may need to understand and handle the details of the deceased’s estate, which is a confusing and complicated process. A qualified 18-wheeler accident lawyer can help you understand the role of the probate process in a fatal accident case and make sure the estate is handled appropriately.
Beyond the claims available to the surviving spouse, children and parents, Texas law also allows the deceased’s estate to bring its own legal claim based on what the deceased went through from the time of the accident until their death. This is called a “survival” action, and losses include medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and physical impairment. For these and other reasons, it makes sense to consult with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer who can help you understand what needs to be done to help you start putting your life back together after a fatal 18-wheeler accident.
Although hiring a lawyer is not necessarily the right choice for every accident victim, it’s always a good idea to at least speak to an attorney so you can understand your rights and make the most informed choices about your case. More specifically, an attorney can provide the following benefits for the accident victims they consult with:
- Education. Many accident victims have questions about their rights and options after an 18-wheeler accident. Clients wonder whether they have a case, how they can pay their medical bills, whether they should talk to the insurance companies, and whether they should call a lawyer. An 18-wheeler accident lawyer who has your best interest in mind can answer all these questions for you in an initial conference call or meeting, allowing you to decide whether hiring a lawyer makes sense for you. At the very least, you will have a clear picture about your rights and options so you can make decisions that are best for your case.
- Experience. Eighteen-wheeler accident cases are often more complex than other car accident cases. They require an investigation to identify any and all people and companies who may be held legally liable for your injuries, and an understanding of all the different insurance companies involved. 18-wheeler accident cases also may require swift action be taken to preserve evidence that might otherwise be lost or destroyed. Having an attorney on your side will help you identify the relationship between all the relevant parties, which insurance companies are involved, and who is to be held accountable for your harms and losses. If you ultimately hire an experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer, they will also protect you from communicating with all these separate parties.
- Investigation. Beyond the investigation necessary to determine how your 18-wheeler accident happened and who may be held to answer, personal injury lawyers understand how to access resources that can help your case, such as police records, medical documents, witness statements, and other critical information that supports better case outcomes.
- Proving liability. Commercial drivers have a responsibility to drive as safely as possible. However, the nature of the commercial trucking industry sometimes causes drivers to engage in negligent behaviors, such as reckless driving or driving while under the influence. An experienced 18-wheeler accident lawyer can help you obtain evidence that will prove what carelessness led to your specific accident. Doing this properly can have a substantial difference in the outcome of your case.
- Fighting for your rights. Commercial vehicle carriers and their insurance providers have experience negotiating for low settlements and will not hesitate to resort to any tactic that will achieve that goal. It is in their best interest to pay you as little as possible as quickly as possible, before you’ve had the opportunity to fully prove the extent of your short- and long-term harms and losses. Fully proving a case is part art, part science, and a good personal injury lawyer is committed to achieving outstanding results by fighting for your rights against bad actors, corporate interests, and unscrupulous insurance companies.
- Offering support. Recovering from a serious accident is difficult, in terms of both your finances and your health. An attorney can help you identify medical professionals who can help you heal, manage your medical treatment and recovery, and make sure medical bills do not stand in your way to securing an outstanding financial recovery for your losses. Even though the road to recovery may be difficult, you should not let anything stand in your way from being fully and adequately compensated. An experienced 18-wheeler accident attorney knows how to help you make the best decisions possible for your circumstances.
FVF has an exceptional history of providing expert guidance and compassionate support to our clients. We strive to give accident victims as much information as possible in a pressure-free environment so they can make the best choice for their case, starting at the very beginning. More specifically, here’s what our law firm brings to the table:
- A strong and ethical mission. FVF is dedicated to restoring public confidence in the practice of personal injury law. From start to finish, we will make sure you understand your rights and options so you can make informed decisions that help ensure the best outcome for your case.
- Sterling track record. FVF Law has successfully resolved hundreds of accident cases, including many involving commercial vehicles. We pride ourselves on transparency and honest council, with a track record of excellence to prove it. This is how we’ve earned such outstanding ratings on Yelp, Google, and AVVO.
- Willingness to fight. We will go head-to-head with insurance providers, motor vehicle carriers, and other parties to ensure that you are well-compensated for your harms and losses. We have successfully secured substantial jury verdicts for our clients at trial when insurance companies refused to offer a reasonable settlement, and are not afraid to take insurance companies to the mat.
- Creative lawyering. Our experienced team seeks out innovative techniques to prove your case and build your damage model. In fact, we consider ourselves some of the savviest 18-wheeler accident lawyers in Austin, with an accomplished record of excellence for our clients.
- Compassionate counsel. We understand that a motor vehicle accident is a difficult and stressful time. We strive to make the experience as smooth and efficient as possible, offering clients the same high level of support we offer our families and friends.
- Comprehensive support. Whether it’s educating you on your rights, helping you afford medical treatment, dealing with outstanding medical bills, or helping you offset your other financial losses, we’re here to support you every step of the way.
- Education-first approach. Our goal here at FVF is not to pressure you into hiring an 18-wheeler accident lawyer. San Antonio and Austin accident victims are encouraged to contact our firm to understand their rights and options — not to listen to a sales pitch. We consider ourselves first and foremost an educational resource for accident victims, and we take that responsibility seriously.
- Free case evaluation. We’ll review your case at zero cost to help you understand your options and decide whether or not hiring legal council is the right choice for you.
Regardless of how you decide to proceed with your 18-wheeler accident case, we invite you to speak with one of our experts. Our goal for these consultations is to help accident victims understand which actions make the most sense for their case. Contact us today for a free case consultation. Our expert attorneys will offer support and guidance during this difficult phase so you can begin to put your accident behind you.