CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Litigating Truck Accidents

Experienced Commercial Carriers Make Litigating Truck Accidents a Business

When the drivers of two passenger cars are involved in a traffic accident, it’s almost always going to be an interaction between “amateurs” — the typical private vehicle driver isn’t likely to have the knowledge and experience to face a traffic accident knowing exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. They’ll likely know to exchange identification and insurance information, to snap a few pictures, and to call for help from first responders if there has been significant vehicle damage or injuries involved. Beyond that, most drivers will turn the process over to the folks who “know what to do” — the police officer to prepare a traffic collision report, insurance adjusters to handle property damage claims, perhaps an attorney if there is an injury claim. Commercial carriers like trucking companies and bus companies, however, are different – they will have experienced many, many traffic incidents with their vehicles and staff, and they, their insurers, and their attorneys make investigating and litigating truck accidents a routine business with well-established procedures. A private individual trying to resolve an injury claim from a truck accident will typically be fighting with at least one hand tied behind their back.

Investigating and Litigating Truck Accidents Starts Immediately

There is no automatic and urgent investigation triggered by private drivers and insurance companies for “routine” traffic accidents, unless someone calls for city police or highway patrol to come to the accident scene. Even then, other than for major accidents that might call for response by a local or state special accident investigative unit, the training and experience of the typical police officer investigating an accident is extremely variable – some may have many years of experience and multiple training classes under their belts, while others may only have had a few hours of training academy instruction.

Differing Collision Investigations

Initial insurance company investigation in the typical passenger car collision will generally just include collecting statements from their individual drivers, getting photos and an evaluation of the vehicle damage, and getting a copy of the police traffic collision report when it’s issued a week or two later. Unless there’s some significant doubt about who was responsible for the accident, the insurer is unlikely to pursue further investigation of the crash.

The investigative routine for truck accidents, however, is entirely different. Commercial carriers and their insurance companies understand that truck accidents are likely to cause a great deal more damage and injury than minor car crashes, and as a result much larger potential damages are at issue. They also understand that the size and physical complexity of commercial trucks will often make it much more challenging to understand precisely how and why a truck accident occurred. For these reasons, most large commercial carriers will have their own investigators who will automatically be called to the scene of an accident involving one of their company’s vehicles – these investigators may get notification faster than the first responders do and, especially near large cities, may be on scene documenting the accident site at the same time as police are doing so.

Commercial Truck Companies Will Have Experts and Lawyers On-Call

In addition to immediately investigating the accident scene, large commercial carriers and their insurance companies will also have accident experts and legal professionals available around-the-clock to respond to a new accident. They will be tasked with promptly gathering and reviewing:

  • Onboard data from their vehicle.
  • Evidence, maps, measurements and other data collected at the accident scene.
  • Company and outside records of the driver of their truck.
  • Company and outside records of their truck, tractor, trailer, or other type of vehicle involved in the accident.
  • Information about all other vehicles, drivers, and passengers involved in the accident.
  • Reports, photographs, witness interviews, and other information gathered about the accident by third parties such as police, news media, and insurers.

Since the truck company investigators, insurers, and lawyers will have immediate access to the company’s own staff and records, they will almost always be in a position to understand what human or mechanical failures on the part of the truck driver or truck company may have been responsible for the accident.  This will also give them a time advantage for developing possible legal defenses against those factors.

People Injured in Truck Accidents Can Benefit from Prompt Professional Help

For these reasons, most people who are seriously injured in truck accidents can help themselves significantly by promptly retaining the services of a skilled personal injury attorney who is experienced in litigating truck accident cases.

As much as the truck company and their insurer understand the importance of prompt investigation and data collection, the victim of a truck accident needs a legal professional with the same understanding and the resources to act accordingly. This involves:

  • Investigating, mapping, and understanding the crash site and the evidence that can remain present days and weeks post-accident.
  • Collecting all the same traffic reports and third-party reports (fire department, ambulance, news media, etc.) that may be available.
  • Immediately notifying the truck driver, truck company, and their insurers and representatives to collect and preserve their key internal records for later production as evidence during the discovery process.
  • Retaining the proper types of expert witnesses for consultation, reports, and testimony to help prove how the accident happened and who was responsible.

Truck accidents cannot be treated as just “bigger-than-usual” car crashes – the physics of the accident are different, the damages and economic stakes are much larger, and the response by the legal and insurance opposition is much more significant.

View this news video describing a troubling increase in big rig truck accidents in recent times:

California Truck Accident Lawyers

Hello, my name is Ed Smith, and I am a California truck accident lawyer.  Truck companies and other commercial carriers understand the stakes involved when their drivers and vehicles are involved in accidents that cause serious injuries or fatalities.  They know the importance of immediately beginning an investigation of the accident and promptly collecting any and all data and records they can get their hands on.  The victims of a truck accident can help themselves significantly by retaining a legal professional with the experience and resources to do the same on their behalf.  If you or a family member has suffered a serious injury due to negligence of a truck driver, please contact us today at (916) 921-6400 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

You can also reach us through our online contact form.

You can read our client reviews on Google, Yelp, and Avvo and case histories of our past truck accident verdicts and settlements.

Image by Gerhard from Pixabay

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