When Should I Hire a PA Trucking Accident Lawyer?
If you are involved in an accident with a heavy truck, you are likely to be experiencing a mix of emotions–shock, confusion, and generally being overwhelmed with the process of recovery. You need to figure out medical care, time off work, motor vehicle repairs, and insurance.
With all the questions swirling around the aftermath of the accident, you may also wonder about whether you should hire a lawyer to help you with legal counsel through the process, and if so when. You may be tempted to put off that decision until you deal with your insurance first. However, especially in a serious truck accident, it can often be advantageous to hire a lawyer after the accident.
If you’re interested in hiring a Pennsylvania truck accident lawyer or wondering whether you should obtain legal counsel, don’t hesitate to give us a call. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we believe all accident victims deserve justice, and we’re ready to protect your rights. Contact us any time for a free consultation. And remember, you don’t pay us unless we win for you.
Do I Have to Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Not all truck accidents require an experienced attorney. If you have a minor accident such as a fender bender or a parking lot collision in which no one was injured and vehicle damage was light, you could potentially reach a settlement solely with your insurance and the trucking company’s insurance.
These types of accidents, while common with cars, are however unlikely to occur with a heavy truck, which brings much more force to an accident. Therefore, the chance of serious injuries is much higher, resulting in lost wages, high medical bills, and potential long-term disability. In these kinds of cases, hiring a truck accident lawyer to navigate the complicated legal framework is essential.
Remember: your insurance company is not on your side. The sad truth is that they are looking out ultimately for the financial interests for the company. Given that incentive, they may not provide you with an adequate settlement to cover your medical care and vehicle expenses as well as less tangible costs such as pain and suffering and post-traumatic stress.
In addition it is an unfortunate reality that insurance adjusters will tend to take a truck accident attorney more seriously than their own policyholder, giving them greater deference and respect, and potentially offering a higher initial settlement.
A trained truck accident lawyer is someone who is on your side and will fight for you to get the compensation you deserve, both outside and inside the courtroom.
How Soon Should I Hire a Truck Accident Attorney?
In the days immediately following an accident, adjusters work quickly to gather information and start to put together a quote for the personal injury claim. For that reason, it is essential that you communicate with your insurance company and the company for the other driver in the best way.
Hiring an experienced lawyer immediately after the accident can ensure that you set yourself up for success and don’t make any mistakes that could hurt your case in the long run.
If you accept a settlement offer from the insurance company too soon, then you could lose out on opportunities for additional compensation in the future.
An accident attorney can help negotiate with the insurance company and guide you through the process of medical treatment and repairs in a way that will make it more likely to obtain full compensation for your injuries and other expenses should it become necessary to go to file a personal injury lawsuit in court.
Just because you don’t hire an accident attorney immediately after a Pennsylvania truck accident, however, doesn’t mean that you have blown your chances. If at any point during the accident claims process you feel like you are confused or overwhelmed, you can always hire an experienced lawyer later in the process as well.
An accident lawyer can help to look at the steps you have already taken regarding medical care and dealings with your insurance adjuster and help to suggest ways to bolster your case.
Who Is Responsible for a Trucking Accident?
In 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation reported that were 7,244 heavy truck accidents in Pennsylvania, one of the highest number of crashes in the past two decades. While truck accidents only account for 6 percent of the total accidents in Pennsylvania, they are more likely to result in fatalities and serious injuries compared to a car accident.
A heavy truck accident is more complicated than the average accidents caused by cars, not only due to the greater weight and force of the vehicle, but also because of the complexity in the question of liability.
A truck accident lawyer can help to cut through the legal framework in order to hold the right liable parties responsible.
Those could include:
- Truck Driver: A driver could be held responsible for the accident if they failed to follow proper procedures set out by the trucking company, including those around required breaks and refraining from drugs and alcohol while working
- Truck Loader: If a truck loses control because the load inside was unbalanced, then the employee responsible for loading the vehicle could also be held liable for the accident.
- Truck Company: The company could be liable if it can be shown that it cut corners when it came to adequately training the driver or broke its own rules around requiring adequate breaks.
- Maintenance Company: The maintenance company responsible for maintaining the truck fleet could be held responsible if they failed to perform adequate standards in terms of vehicle brakes, tires, and other essential equipment.
- Truck Manufacturer: If the accident could be traced to a defect in the vehicle that caused the driver to lose control, then the manufacturer of the vehicle could itself be held liable.
How Do Damages In a Truck Accident Differ From a Car Accident?
A tractor trailer or other heavy truck is a massive vehicle, weighing up to 35,000 pounds by itself, and 80,000 pounds loaded. Compare that to an average car, which weighs around 5,000 pounds. For that reason, a heavy truck can cause significantly more damage and injury in an accident.
When a truck accident victim arrives at the hospital, they may require costly brain scans or other procedures. If there are serious injuries such as broken bones, internal bleeding, or traumatic brain injury, then the recovery can take a long time, requiring ongoing bills for rehabilitation and physical therapy, or even lifetime care for permanent disability.
In addition, an accident involving a massive semi-trailer truck can lead to significant trauma, pain and suffering, which could also be subject to compensation.
For this reason, Pennsylvania requires truck companies to carry higher amounts of insurance than standard automobile insurance, which only requires a minimum of $15,000 in personal injury protection. By contrast, trucks are required to carry the following amounts:
- $300,000 for household goods
- $750,000 for general freight
- $1,000,000 for oil transport
- $5,000,000 for hazmat
In addition, the federal government requires even higher levels of insurance for a truck that crosses state lines. These higher insurance rates are a clear indication of the greater damage typically caused by a truck accident.
What Should I Do After a Truck Accident?
The clock starts ticking as soon as a truck accident occurs. Like other personal injury claims, the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit for a truck accident in Pennsylvania is two years.
That may seem like a long time; however, the complicated nature of liability in truck accidents, as well as the potential greater severity of injuries means there is little time to waste. In addition, some evidence may not be available after a certain amount of time. Witnesses’ memories become foggy soon after an accident, and federal regulations only require trucking companies to maintain logs for six months following an accident.
That evidence can be crucial to proving a claim, so it’s important to secure it before it is destroyed. Whether you contact an attorney right away or not, there are many things you can do after a truck accident to ensure that you have the best case.
Seek prompt medical attention.
Not only does this ensure that you receive the best care you can to recover from your injuries, but the medical records also serve as an indication of the severity of your injuries.
Record details of the accident.
As soon as you are able, write down everything you can remember about the accident, including the location and movements of the vehicles, the physical conditions of the road, the actions of the other driver, and any weather conditions or other hazards present. If you are able at the time, take pictures of the accident, including the location and other vehicles; otherwise, go back later and take pictures of the physical crash scene.
Avoid offering too many details to insurance.
While you can provide a basic account of the accident, avoid giving too many details to adjusters, particularly if they could be interpreted as you being at fault for the accident.
Keep accurate records.
Start a physical folder or computer folder in which you keep all of your medical and vehicle records, as well as your mileage for appointments, and any communications with insurance companies. In addition, make sure that you get a copy of the police report and information on the other driver and trucking company.
Take the time you need to recover.
Don’t feel like you have to go back to work right away; better to wait until you are ready, both for your own help, and to maximize your future claim from insurance.
Following this advice will help give your attorney the best information they need to negotiate a settlement or take your case, while you focus on your physical and mental recovery.
What Exactly Does a Truck Accident Attorney Do?
Sometimes when deciding whether and when to hire a personal injury lawyer, it’s helpful to know what exactly a truck accident attorney can do to help you. An accident lawyer doesn’t only provide legal counsel in the courtroom. They also:
One of the most important things a lawyer can do in a case is to gather evidence to determine the liable party or parties. They know the places to look and requests to make from the truck company and other entities to determine exactly who is at fault.
Negotiate with insurance
Oftentimes, it isn’t necessary to bring a personal injury lawsuit in order to get compensation for an accident. An accident attorney will first work with the insurance companies involved to arrive at a fair settlement as quickly as possible. They will review your case, taking into account medical expenses, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and emotional suffering to submit a demand letter, and will use their experience to know if the ultimate settlement offer from the insurance companies is fair.
Litigating in court
In the event that the parties are not able to achieve a fair settlement through insurance, then a truck accident attorney can bring a personal injury lawsuit and go to trial before a judge or jury as legal counsel in order to obtain the financial compensation you deserve.
Contact Munley Law today
If you have been injured in a truck accident, contact Munley Law to find out what kind of compensation you might truly be entitled to receive. For over 60 years, Munley Law has represented hundreds of thousands of car and truck accident victims throughout Pennsylvania to get the compensation needed to get them back on their feet.
Our truck accident lawyers have consistently been named among the Best Lawyers in America, selected to Pennsylvania Super Lawyers, and are board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. And, we get results – our lawyers have achieved numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts.
Ask for a free consultation
The truck accident lawyers at Munley Law care very deeply about our clients. Our compassionate attorneys and our entire staff will do everything in our power to help you during this time of need. You can count on our team—we have decades of success and satisfied clients, and we will devote all of the time and resources necessary for you to win your case.
We know you have questions but may be nervous to contact a truck accident attorney. That’s why our law firm offers FREE, no-obligation case evaluations to all accident victims. You can reach someone from our staff 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
No matter how complicated or difficult your case may be, we will review the facts and explain what legal options are available to you. Chat live, email us, or call today.
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Posted in Truck Accidents.