FVF Law is a values driven law firm.
Tractor trailers present unique risks to other drivers on Austin roads. These vehicles are much larger, heavier, and more capable of causing severe bodily injury and property damage than passenger cars. Additionally, the size of a tractor trailer limits driver visibility and results in slower reaction times. Clearly, a simple mistake can lead to devastating consequences — and yet tractor trailer drivers and their employers do not always take the threat they present to others seriously.
If you have been injured in a tractor trailer accident, your first priority should be to receive appropriate medical attention, and then contact a tractor trailer accident lawyer who will fight for your interests and protect your rights.
Tractor trailer accident cases are often complex due to the scope of the damage, the number of parties involved, and the fact that tractor trailers are typically classified as commercial motor vehicles (CMV), which means the driver may not be the only party who can be held liable in a lawsuit. Here are some other facts about tractor trailer accidents that may be pertinent to your case.
Is a Tractor Trailer Accident Always Considered Negligence?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, nearly all tractor trailer accidents are caused by preventable factors, with 87% of the critical reasons for crashes attributed to the driver of the truck. Commercial drivers spend long hours on the road and must comply with delivery schedules. This can create a perfect storm for reckless or negligent driving. The rush to stay on time can motivate drivers to push through a shift even when fatigue is clouding their judgment, or to rely on substances to stay awake. They may speed or make other reckless driving decisions to remain on schedule.
The driver’s employer — the owner of the vehicle — may not have been present during the accident, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be held responsible for negligence. If the employer incentivized the driver to drive recklessly, to drive longer shifts than allowed by hours-of-service regulations, or to skip breaks, the company could be considered liable. This is also true if the employer was responsible for maintaining and/or loading the vehicle and neglected to properly carry out those duties.
A tractor trailer accident lawyer will set out to prove that the negligence of one or both of these parties caused your injury so that you can receive financial recovery for your medical bills, lost wages, and other harms and losses.
Whose Insurance Pays for a Tractor Trailer Accident?
Drivers and their employers often maintain separate insurance policies. The employment status of the driver will determine which party is ultimately held responsible. The driver may be an independent contractor, in which case their insurance provider will be responsible for paying for your harms and losses. However, even an independent contractor can be considered a legitimate employee of the company if the company withholds federal expenses from their paychecks, in which case you would file a claim against the employer’s insurance.
An experienced lawyer will manage your contact with all insurance companies involved and take a deeper look to determine your best source of recovery.
How Is Liability Determined in a Tractor Trailer Accident?
Many behind-the-scenes factors can contribute to a tractor trailer accident. In addition to hours-of-service violations or maintenance failures, employers can be held responsible for not offering proper driver safety training or failing to thoroughly screen for criminal traffic violations and other offenses. Understanding who should ultimately bear responsibility for the accident sometimes requires accessing internal company documents, driving records, and other materials that the employer may be reluctant to hand over.
When hiring an attorney to represent your accident claim will add substantial value to your case, it is usually worth it. As long as the value added to the case is enough to cover the cost of the legal representation — which an experienced attorney can help you determine — then having an experienced, knowledgeable ally on your side to support you and take on the fight is one way to reduce the stress of a lawsuit.
Most Austin car accident victims want to know the average tractor trailer settlement before moving forward. But countless factors can affect your individual settlement amount, from the severity of your injuries and the extent of your losses to the number of injured people who will be seeking financial recovery from the same sources. But one thing is certain: consulting with an 18-wheeler accident lawyer greatly increases the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Your lawyer will handle communication with insurance providers who will try to deny or undervalue your claim. They will prove liability and work to hold the at-fault party accountable and, if necessary, file a lawsuit to make sure you obtain the compensation you deserve.
At FVF, we understand that Texans like you often feel overwhelmed and confused by your options for recovering physically, emotionally, and financially from such a harrowing accident. We want you to have firm grasp on your case and know that you are in good hands. We know that financial compensation does not erase the difficulties you have faced as a result of your tractor trailer accident, but we do hope that it contributes to your recovery and allows you to continue with your life.
The days following an accident can feel chaotic and confusing, which is why we offer free, no-commitment consultations. Every accident injury victim should feel that they understand their options before making any big decisions. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.
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