Frequently Asked Questions About Being Involved in an Accident With a Semi-Truck or Tractor Trailer
You must be overwhelmed with questions after your Dallas car wreck. Why not get the answers from a Texas board-certified personal injury attorney?
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What types of compensation could I receive in a wrongful death action following a truck accident?
It is devastating to lose a family member in a truck accident, especially when it was caused by the negligence of the truck driver and trucking company. It can cause you to suffer both emotionally and financially. Fortunately, the trucking company and trucker may be responsible for compensating you for your losses. While this will not take away your grief at the loss of your loved one, it can help you obtain justice and return to the financial stability you enjoyed before your loved one’s death.
Compensation Awarded in Wrongful Death Actions
There are two types of claims you may bring following the loss of a loved one. The first is a wrongful death action to recover the losses you personally suffered due to your family member’s death. The other is a survival action which is a claim for the financial losses that your loved one incurred from the time of the truck accident until his death.
In Texas, you are permitted to file a wrongful death action if you are the victim’s spouse, child, or parent. Compensation you may receive includes:
Lost Earning Capacity
If your loved one was employed and provided financial support to you at the time of his death, you might be entitled to compensation for the future lost wages and other benefits of his employment.
Loss of Support
You are entitled to be compensated for the loss of support, love, care, advice, and guidance that your loved one provided to you in your daily life.
Pain and Suffering
You also can receive compensation for the pain and suffering you are experiencing due to your family member’s death. If you need mental health counseling to help you cope with your grief, you can be reimbursed for this as well.
Loss of Services
If your loved one provided household or other services to you, this can be included in your settlement.
You can be compensated for the inheritance you would have received if your family member lived. You should be entitled to the amount he would have reasonably been expected to earn if he had lived.
If the trucker’s or trucking company’s actions were willful or grossly negligent, you might be entitled to punitive damages to punish them.
Damages You May Receive in a Survival Action
A survival action is generally brought by the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate for the benefit of his heirs. Depending on the circumstances in your case, you may be the one pursuing this claim as the estate executor and receive this compensation as one of your loved one’s heir. Damages awarded in survival actions can include:
- Medical expenses incurred by your loved one from the time of the truck accident until his death
- The wages your loved one lost between the truck accident and his death
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering your loved one experienced due to the truck accident
- Punitive damages
Have You Been Injured In A Texas Truck Accident?
If you lost a loved one in an 18-wheeler or other truck accident in the Dallas, Fort Worth, or the Mid-Cities area, our experienced truck accident attorneys are here to aggressively fight to prove the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence so that you receive the compensation you deserve. Contact us online or call our Texas law office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation today.
What should you expect at your initial consultation with a truck accident attorney?
Most attorneys in truck wreck cases in the Dallas/Fort Worth area offer a free initial consultation to potential clients, and you should definitely take advantage of this. This meeting is an opportunity for the lawyer to assess your case. The second purpose is for you to determine whether this person is an experienced truck accident attorney and whether he is someone you feel you can trust and who will aggressively fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Could Happen at Your First Appointment With a Truck Accident Lawyer
Once you have researched attorneys who handle these cases, you want to schedule a free initial consultation with your top two or three choices. Here is what you can expect to happen at your appointment:
Discussion of your case
The attorney will want to have a detailed conversation about your case. This can include questions about how your accident happened, your injuries, evidence you have collected, and any conversations you have had with the negligent trucker’s and trucking company’s insurance company.
Once the lawyer has a better sense of your case, he should provide you some general legal advice. This may include discussing who could be liable for compensating you, the types of compensation you may be entitled to, the importance of following your doctor’s treatment plan, and mistakes not to make.
Explanation of legal process
The attorney may explain how filing a claim and filing a lawsuit differ, the steps involved in each, and how long he believes it may take to resolve your case.
Good communication between you and your lawyer is important to the outcome of your case and your relationship with him. You should discuss how your attorney will be communicating with you, how often he will update you on your case, and how soon he will get back to you if you contact him with questions.
A truck accident attorney should explain what attorney fees you will owe and whether or not he will handle your case on a contingency fee basis.
You should come to the appointment with a list of questions about the attorney’s experience in these cases, how many cases he has successfully settled and taken to trial, and any other concerns you have.
Are you thinking about hiring a lawyer in your truck accident case? We have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims. To learn more, contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced truck accident attorneys.
What happens if I was partially at fault in causing my truck accident in Decatur?
Texas is a fault state that requires negligent drivers to compensate the victims of a passenger vehicle or truck accident. In many cases in Decatur, the truck driver’s and trucking company’s liability for causing a collision is clear cut. However, in some situations, the fault may be divided among more parties. Here, we explain your rights to compensation if you are found to be partially to blame for causing your crash.
How Texas’ Comparative Negligence Law Could Apply in Your Case
Texas follows the modified comparative negligence rule in vehicle accident cases. If a party is partially at fault, he will still be entitled to compensation for his injuries as long as he was not more than 50 percent to blame. Here’s how comparative negligence works:
- If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault, you would not be entitled to any compensation from the truck driver.
- If you are less than 50 percent to blame, the amount of compensation you receive would be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if your damages are $200,000 and you were 20 percent at fault, you would still be entitled to $160,000 from the negligent trucker and trucking company—a substantial amount of what you would otherwise be owed.
Because it is a way to reduce their liability for compensating you, you should not be surprised if the insurance company for the trucker and trucking company tries to claim that you were partially negligent even if this was not true. An experienced truck crash attorney will have strategies to defeat these unjustified claims and can protect your legal rights so that you receive what you are entitled to in your settlement.
Are you worried about how your own fault could affect your truck injury claim? Contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free consultation today. A member of our skilled truck accident legal team will discuss your crash with you and advise you how modified comparative negligence could impact your legal rights to compensation for your injuries.
We help injured truck wreck victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How can a truck’s black box can help your truck accident claim?
Most people know that an airplane’s black box could lead to important information as to the cause of an airplane crash. You may not be aware that a truck also contains a black box that can also help prove the trucker’s and trucking company’s negligence in causing your truck crash. However, you will need to act quickly to obtain this information from the trucking company before it is lost. This will not be an easy task.
Helpful Information That a Truck’s Black Box Could Contain
Black boxes have been installed in commercial trucks since the 1990s, so it is almost certain that the truck that caused your wreck contained one. These devices are also known as event data recorders (EDR) and consist of sensors and other components linked to the truck’s engine that record information regarding the trucker’s actions and the truck’s operations, including the following:
- Truck’s average and highest speed and the speed at the time of your wreck
- Time the trucker drove
- Time that the trucker drove at 65 miles per hour or faster
- Average engine RPM
- Seat belt usage by the trucker and any co-driver
- Airbag performance
- Truck’s idling time
- Hard braking and sudden stops
- Cruise control usage
- GPS coordinates and location
How Can the Truck’s EDR Information Help When Filing a Claim for Compensation?
The truck’s black box can provide factual information regarding what the truck was doing before, during, and after your collision that may be in sharp contrast to what the trucking company and trucker claim. Some of its uses include:
- The data can be used with other information by a crash reconstruction expert to recreate how the trucker caused your wreck.
- You can use the data to determine how fast the truck was travelling before and during your wreck and whether the truck driver was speeding.
- You can see if the trucker applied the brakes before or during your wreck.
- You can compare the black box data to the daily log of hours driven that the truck driver is required to complete. This can help you determine if he violated federal hours of service regulations regarding the hours he is allowed to drive and if fatigue caused your crash.
Our Experienced Legal Team Can Help to Obtain the Truck’s Black Box
EDR data is often recorded over in approximately 30 days. You need an experienced truck wreck attorney to act quickly and send the trucking company a spoliation letter advising them not to destroy this vital information. At the Hart Law Firm, our experienced legal team understands the importance of obtaining the black box data and other evidence important to your truck wreck claim before it is destroyed. To learn how we can help you, contact us online or call our Colleyville office directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free case evaluation.
We help injured truck accident victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Should I sign an authorization for release of medical information to the negligent truck driver’s insurance adjuster?
You will need to make many important decisions if you file a claim for compensation for injuries that you suffered in a truck wreck caused by a negligent truck driver. Some decisions will be complicated enough that you will know to seek the advice of an experienced truck wreck attorney. However, other decisions may seem like not a big deal, but in reality could have an impact on your settlement. One decision that falls in this category is a medical authorization releasing your medical records to the insurance adjuster for the negligent truck driver and trucking company.
Reasons Why Agreeing to Sign a Medical Release of Information Is a Bad Decision
While it is true that you will need to provide medical records to the insurance company in order to settle your claim with the trucker and trucking company, there is a right and wrong way to do this. Here’s why signing a medical release is not in your best interests:
It is not required.
You are not required to sign a medical authorizing allowing the insurance adjuster to request your medical records regarding your injuries. There is another safer and better way to provide this information to the insurance company—through your experienced truck accident attorney.
It leads to disputes.
If you sign the medical authorization, the insurance adjuster can request all of your medical records and very likely would do so. Many of these records have no true bearing on your claim, but they could lead to disputes when settling your case. For example, if you mentioned a pain in the same body part injured in your truck collision, but never needed treatment for it, the insurance company could argue that your current injury is a pre-existing injury not caused by the accident.
It releases private medical information.
If you allow the adjuster to obtain your medical records, you could be providing irrelevant and sensitive medical information about you that the insurance company does not need and is an invasion of your privacy.
Contact Our Experienced Legal Team for Advice on Signing a Medical Release When Making a Truck Wreck Claim
If you are filing a claim for injuries following a truck accident, the experienced truck wreck attorneys at the Hart Law Firm are here to help—including handling a request for medical records. Contact us online or call our Colleyville office directly at 817.380.4888 and schedule your free consultation today.
We help injured truck crash victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Should I give a recorded statement to the negligent truck driver’s insurance company?
After a truck wreck that was not your fault, the truck driver will report the crash to his insurance company, and an insurance adjuster will be assigned to the claim. He will investigate the cause of your crash and obtain information about your injuries. He will most likely contact you—possibly while you are still in the hospital—and may ask you to do a number of things while evaluating your claim. One request may be to give a recorded statement. Should you agree to give one?
Why You Should NOT Give a Recorded Statement to the Truck Driver’s Insurance Company
A recorded statement is a question and answer session conducted by the insurance adjuster where your answers are recorded and later transcribed to create a written version of the session. Are you required to give a recorded statement in order to settle your claim with the insurance company? No, you do not have a duty to agree to this in order to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
You may not think that giving a recorded statement is a bad idea when you know that the trucker was the at-fault driver. However, many victims of tragic truck wrecks have significantly weakened their claims for compensation by giving a recorded statement. Here is how agreeing to this could hurt your case:
You will be discussing your crash with many people, such as witnesses, police, and your doctor. If you agree to give a recorded statement, the adjuster will compare your answers to others you give while you are resolving your claim to see if there are any inconsistencies in what you have said. If there are any, he will use this information to deny or reduce your claim. In addition, inconsistent statements would make you less credible as a witness—also damaging your claim.
The insurance adjuster has extensive experience taking recorded statements and knows how to ask questions—sometimes in a confusing manner—to elicit the answers he wants in an effort to weaken your claim. You may inadvertently answer a question in a way that hurts your case without even knowing that you are doing this.
Your recorded statement—like other statements you make—can be used against you in court if you file a civil lawsuit. Portions of the recorded statement could be used with motions filed to try to get your case dismissed or in cross-examination at trial to show that you are not a believable witness.
What Should You Do If the Insurance Adjuster Asks You to Give a Recorded Statement?
If you receive a call from an insurance adjuster requesting that you give a recorded statement, you should politely inform him that you plan to retain an attorney before making any decisions. Then you need to immediately retain an experienced truck wreck attorney who can advise the adjuster that you will not be agreeing to this and can handle all your communications and negotiations with him.
What happens if you already gave a recorded statement? You have not ruined your case. However, you need to hire a lawyer immediately to obtain a copy of the statement and minimize the damage that your statements may have caused to your right to compensation.
If you need assistance in negotiating a settlement of your truck accident claim, our experienced truck wreck attorneys are here to help. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How much is your truck wreck claim worth?
If you are considering filing a claim with a negligent trucker’s insurance company for your injuries, an important question you need to have answered is what the value of your claim is. This can help you determine whether it would be worth your time and effort to file a claim and to fight to obtain the compensation you deserve. While an experienced truck wreck attorney cannot guarantee a precise settlement amount, he can give you guidance on how much your truck crash claim may be worth.
What Factors Will Influence the Compensation You Receive for Your Injuries?
A truck wreck attorney can determine the strength of your claim and its potential value by looking at a number of factors that influence the value of an injury claim in general and the specific facts of your case. This is not something that you can accurately do on your own. You need an attorney who has handled many truck wreck claims and has a record of success to evaluate this for you. Some of the factors that will determine your claim’s worth include:
When there are serious issues about the truck driver’s liability for causing your wreck, this can weaken your claim and make it more challenging to convince the insurance adjuster to agree to a settlement of your claim. When there are real questions about the cause of the wreck, you may have to be realistic and settle for less if you hope to reach a settlement of your claim. In contrast, if the negligence of the trucker is clear cut, the value of your claim will increase.
If the trucker has a legitimate claim that you were partially at fault in causing the crash, this could also reduce the value of your claim. For example, if you were 30 percent at fault in causing the wreck, you would only be entitled to 70 percent of the total compensation that you are owed.
Severity of your injuries.
The value of your claim will be more if you suffered long-term or life-altering injuries, become permanently disabled, or are filing a wrongful death action due to the death of a loved one. The medical bills, lost wages, and emotional damages portions of your claim will be larger if your injuries are severe, making your overall claim worth more.
Amount of insurance coverage.
The reality is that the insurance companies for the trucker and his employer will only owe compensation up to the liability coverage limit of the insurance policy. You will be more likely to receive the compensation you deserve if the insurance coverage is substantial and sufficient to cover your damages.
Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney.
An experienced truck accident attorney will increase the value of your claim due to his experience handling cases such as yours and his reputation for successfully resolving these claims. He will understand the importance of a thorough investigation, will be able to accurately value your claim, and will not be afraid to take your case to jury trial if this becomes necessary.
Did a negligent trucker cause your truck accident? Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your accident, the value of your claim, and what the Hart Law Firm can do to help you obtain the compensation that you deserve. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
Who is liable when a truck's brakes fail and cause a Texas truck crash that injures you?
Truck brake failure and other problems with the truck’s braking system are common causes of truck wrecks that leave victims suffering from catastrophic and fatal injuries. If this was the cause of your crash, determining the liable parties is important to ensure that you receive the total compensation you are owed in your settlement. However, identifying these parties can be more complicated than you think.
Responsible Parties in Truck Accidents Caused by Brake Failures
Who is responsible for compensating you will depend on the cause of the accident. You need to keep in mind that more than one party can face liability. Here are common parties to sue in these cases:
- Truck driver. The trucker will most likely face some liability for failing to properly inspect the truck brakes before starting his trip or driving when he knew there were mechanical problems with the brakes. In addition, he could face responsibility if his cargo was not loaded properly and this caused the brakes to overheat.
- Trucking company. The trucking company could be vicariously liable for any negligent actions of the truck driver. In addition, the trucking company could face responsibility for lack of maintenance of the brakes, depowering the brakes, or improper loading of the truck.
- Shipper. If a shipping company loaded what was being transported, the company could be held accountable if this caused the brakes to overheat and fail.
- Truck mechanic. Some trucking companies contract out the maintenance and repair of their trucks. If the repair facility failed to conduct required inspections of the brakes, failed to repair or replace them, or was involved in depowering the brakes, it could be a party in a lawsuit.
- Brake manufacturer. If your crash was caused by defective truck brake parts, you could have a products liability claim against the manufacturer of the brakes.
At the Hart Law Firm, our experienced truck wreck attorneys understand the importance of thoroughly investigating truck accident claims and identifying all liable parties so that our clients receive the compensation they are entitled to. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule a free consultation. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How soon after a truck crash should I see a doctor?
Even if you feel fine after a truck collision, you should see a doctor right away. Of course, if you don’t feel fine, you want to seek medical care immediately. In other cases where the injuries seem “minor” or you think that you can tough it out, you are making a big mistake that could jeopardize your health and your claim for compensation if you do not seek prompt medical care.
Why You Should Seek Medical Treatment Even If You Do Not Think You Were Injured
In any crash with a truck, you should be checked out by your doctor or another physician within about 48 hours of your crash. Here is why you should do so:
Find hidden injuries.
Adrenaline from the wreck could mask symptoms of an injury or you could have an injury where the symptoms take days or weeks to develop. Conditions like back, neck, and spinal injuries, traumatic brain injury, or internal organ damage and bleeding can fall into this category. By the time you experience the symptoms, the injuries could have become more serious or even life-threatening.
Document your injury.
By seeking medical care right away, you document your concerns about your health and make it easier to prove the causal relationship between the injuries and your truck wreck. This is especially important when your symptoms take longer to develop.
Even when the liability of the negligent trucker is not in dispute, the insurance company will try to argue about the seriousness of the victim’s injuries when possible. By not going to the doctor right away, you give them arguments that your injuries were caused by another incident or that they are not as serious as you now claim or you would have sought treatment sooner.
Following up on your doctor’s advice and continuing with your treatment is also important. Lengthy periods of time when you were not obtaining the medical care your doctor recommended can also lead to disputes regarding how serious your injuries really are.
Did a negligent truck driver cause your wreck? The experienced truck wreck attorneys at the Hart Law Firm are here to fight for the compensation you deserve. Get your questions answered and learn the next steps you should take, then contact us online or call our office directly at 817.380.4888. We help injured victims throughout Texas including Arlington, North Richland, Grapevine, Bedford, Hurst, Euless, Irving and all points in between.
How much does it cost to hire a truck accident attorney?
A primary worry if you are considering pursuing a claim against the negligent trucker who caused your injuries may be the cost to hire an attorney. This is a legitimate concern when you are already struggling with expensive medical bills and the loss of your wages while you are off work recovering from your injuries. However, the good news is that you should be able to afford an experienced truck wreck attorney to negotiate your settlement for you.
How Do Attorneys Charge Their Fees in Truck Injury Claims?
Most truck accident attorneys charge their fees on a contingency basis. This means that they only are owed attorney fees if you receive money through a settlement or at trial. Here’s how contingency fee arrangements work:
- You would pay the attorney an agreed-upon percentage of your award at the time you are paid by the negligent party. This would be directly deducted from your settlement proceeds.
- If you lose your case, you would owe no attorney fees.
Fees and Expenses You Could Owe
In addition to attorney fees, you could owe fees and costs associated with filing your claim and lawsuit, if this becomes necessary. Some attorneys will require you to pay these fees and costs up front. Others will pay them for you and deduct what you owe from your settlement. Fees and costs that you may owe include:
- Fee to file your complaint with the court
- Service fees that are paid to a process server to serve the defendants with your summons and complaint
- Expert witness fees
- Fees to obtain copies of your medical records and other records
- Deposition fees and costs of deposition transcripts
Focus on Experience as Well as Cost in Selecting Your Attorney
While the cost to hire an attorney is a consideration in deciding who to retain, the attorney’s experience in handling truck wreck claims is more important. These claims are complicated because of the seriousness of the injuries, federal regulations that may have been violated, and the increased value of many victims’ claims. You need an attorney who is experienced in representing clients in these cases and has successfully settled them. You also want an attorney who you trust and communicates frequently and well with you.
If you or a family member suffered injuries due to a trucker’s negligence, review our case results to see how we have helped other clients like you. Contact us online or call us directly at 817.380.4888 to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.