When your car collides with a commercial or semi-truck, the outcome can be devastating.
The excessive weight and size of large trucks can leave a passenger vehicle a total loss.
The driver and any passengers can experience catastrophic or life-threatening injuries.
If you have been in an accident with a semi or big rig, you may have the right to recover compensation for your injuries and other damages.
If your accident occurred in or near Birmingham, a truck accident lawyer from the Fob James Law Firm can help.
We provide answers to your questions, explain your options, and do everything we can to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
Who Has Liability for Your Birmingham Truck Accident Injuries?
On the Alabama roadways, motorists owe a duty of care to other drivers and the general public, including bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and others who share the road.
When a driver breaks the law or behaves carelessly, their recklessness or negligence places others at risk for harm.
When that driver’s actions cause an injury accident, that individual is liable for any damages that result.
If the negligent truck driver was working on behalf of a trucking company or another employer, the employer may also have liability for the resulting losses.
In some cases, faulty equipment or poor vehicle maintenance practices may contribute to a truck accident.
To recover compensation, you must establish a fault to ensure the at-fault party has liability for your damages.
Unfortunately, trucking companies and their insurance companies are notoriously difficult to deal with.
In fact, insurers will go to great lengths to minimize the amount of your settlement.
A Birmingham truck accident attorney understands how to investigate your semi-truck collision to identify fault and liability. Your lawyer also understands how to negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company to obtain a fair offer for settlement.
If the insurer won’t make a reasonable settlement offer, your lawyer can file a civil lawsuit and fight for you in court.
How Do You File an Alabama Truck Accident Claim?
To recover compensation for your injuries and other damages, you must demonstrate that the driver or other at-fault party did not act with reasonable care and, as a result, you suffered injuries and other damages.
As simple as this sounds, recovering fair compensation for truck accident injuries poses multiple challenges.
To build a persuasive case, your lawyer will investigate your accident and pursue evidence that may include the following.
The U.S. Department of Transportation restricts truck drivers to a maximum of 11 hours per day behind the wheel. Truck drivers are required to log their hours on the road to ensure compliance.
Obtaining this data can help support your claim that driver fatigue caused or contributed to your accident.
Maintenance and Inspection Records
These records demonstrate how the semi-truck was maintained and inspected and can potentially demonstrate any problems with the equipment that caused or contributed to your accident.
Trucking Company Records
Trucking company safety records can help your attorney determine whether the carrier had prior violations or demonstrated negligence in the past. Establishing a history of safety issues can help your attorney build a persuasive case.
Obtaining statements from eyewitnesses can help support what actually happened during the collision and in the moments leading up to the crash.
Your attorney will want to talk to all witnesses as quickly as possible, while their memories of the events remain fresh in their minds.
Photographs and Videos of the Accident Scene
Photos of the accident scene and the aftermath are critical for building a persuasive claim. If your attorney can obtain any video evidence, it can provide even more support for your case.
Truck Data Recorder
Today, most commercial trucks carry a data recording device onboard. This device is similar to the black boxes carried by planes. If your attorney can obtain this data, it can provide support for any driver error or negligence, such as excessive speed.
Assembling evidence and relevant data as quickly as possible after the accident will help preserve critical evidence.
Your truck accident attorney has the ability to issue a legal notice to the trucking company and other parties, to compel them to preserve all pertinent evidence.
What Is the Value of Your Truck Accident Claim?
The value of your claim will depend on the type and extent of your injuries. Truck accidents can lead to catastrophic or life-threatening injuries, permanent disability, and disfigurement. These factors all influence the value of your claim.
Your truck accident attorney will assemble the necessary documentation to substantiate your case, such as:
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages,
- Care costs,
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy costs,
- Damage to your vehicle and personal property,
- Estimates of future medical bills,
- Estimates of future care costs,
- Estimates of future loss of income,
- Pain and suffering,
- Lost enjoyment of life, and
- Disability value.
Experienced truck accident lawyers often use the opinions or testimony of medical experts, economic experts, and others who can help support the value of your claim.
Often, insurance companies attempt to negotiate an undervalued settlement soon after an accident, especially once they realize that your claim may be substantial.
A knowledgeable truck accident attorney can protect your legal rights and ensure that you don’t fall victim to questionable actions of the insurance company.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Lawyer?
Although no legal requirements force you to have an attorney, experienced legal representation provides multiple benefits.
After any serious injury accident, your need to focus on your recovery. That’s just not possible if you’re worrying about how to pay your bills or how you can convince the insurance company to compensate you fairly for your injuries.
Birmingham truck accident attorneys have the necessary resources for gathering evidence and building a persuasive case. Forcing the trucking company and the insurer to go through your attorney will help hold the at-fault party or parties accountable.
At the Fob James Law Firm, we realize that no settlement—no matter how substantial—can undo the damage you suffered. However, when we recover fair compensation for you, it sends a powerful message to others and helps make the roads safer for everyone.
Leave spaces for case results and testimonials.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
If you are involved in a commercial truck accident, get to a safe location well off the roadway. Call 911 to request the police and paramedics.
This step is critical, even if you believe you were not injured.
Use your smartphone to take as many photos as you can.
Capture every angle of the scene and the vehicles involved.
If witnesses are present, ask them to share with you any photos or videos they may have captured. Gather contact information for all witnesses and anyone involved in the crash.
Photograph or write down all identifying numbers and marks on both the truck and trailer, if applicable.
Do not make any statements to anyone regarding fault, even if you believe you caused the accident. Your perceptions may not be an accurate representation of what really happened.
When you talk to the police, simply provide the facts as you recall them.
Let the paramedics check you out on-scene, if possible. Likewise, if you had passengers in your vehicle, make sure the paramedics evaluate them as well.
Whether or not you get checked out at the scene, visit the emergency room or a medical practitioner immediately afterward.
Some types of injuries, including whiplash and internal damage, may not be immediately obvious. Having a full medical evaluation will ensure that you get the treatment you need and help establish the basis of your truck accident claim.
As soon as possible, contact a Birmingham, AL truck accident lawyer. The sooner your attorney can get started, the better. Your lawyer can help protect and preserve critical evidence and begin building your case. Your attorney can also help protect you from any attempts the insurance company might make to undermine your case. Never provide any statements or sign any documents without consulting an attorney first.
Commercial Truck Accident Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that tractor-trailers, commercial trucks, 18-wheelers, and big rigs are involved in more than 400,000 U.S. accidents every year.
Of the more than 4,000 fatalities that resulted in 2018, 74 percent of victims were occupants in other vehicles.
Compounding the frequency of tractor-trailer accidents, the NHTSA reports that large truck drivers have the highest percentage of involvement in previous incidents of any other driver type.
In fact, 20.1 percent of truck drivers involved in a fatal accident was previously involved in a crash.
In Alabama, the data present even more concern. According to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), trucks were involved with more than 10,000 accidents in 2018 alone.
Those incidents resulted in 2,629 injuries and 121 fatalities.
How Are Truck Accidents Different from Other Vehicle Collisions?
Getting into an accident with a commercial truck generally poses a higher level of danger than a crash with another passenger vehicle.
The size and weight of tractor-trailers and semi-trucks can cause significant damage to smaller vehicles.
Truck drivers have limited abilities to brake and maneuver, making it difficult or impossible to avoid a collision.
The results can be devastating to the victims, both physically and emotionally.
Trucks pose a high risk of rollovers, especially on the interstate and at high speeds. Many trucks carry cargo that is toxic or hazardous. These and other factors have the potential to worsen an already dire collision.
When you get into an accident with another private motorist, you deal directly with the other party and their insurance company.
When your collision involves a commercial truck, you must deal with the truck driver, the trucking company, and possibly other parties such as the shipper—and the insurance carriers of each party. The complexity of these legal claims can be exponentially worse than other types of accidents.
Building a persuasive case also poses more complex challenges for trucking accidents.
Determining and demonstrating which parties caused or contributed to the crash requires experience and resources.
You need an attorney who understands these complexities as well as the federal regulations that govern the trucking industry.
A Birmingham truck accident attorney from the Fob James Law Firm will have the knowledge and experience to get the job done for you.
Common Truck Accident Causes
Although many factors can lead to commercial trucking accidents, the majority of these collisions are preventable.
Drive Safe Alabama lists the following primary causes of truck accidents in Alabama:
- Improper lane changes or use,
- Failure to yield to right of way,
- Misjudging stopping distance,
- Defective equipment,
- Improper backing up,
- Improper turns,
- Excessive speed,
- Failure to maintain lane,
- Failure to heed traffic signals,
- Improper passing,
- Driver fatigue, and
- Driver impairment (drugs or alcohol).
Improper and imbalanced trailer loading are also common causes of commercial truck crashes. Defective truck components and the failure to maintain tractor-trailers properly can also lead to unexpected equipment failure and devastating collisions.
Will the Insurance Company Offer a Settlement?
In most cases, our attorneys can negotiate an acceptable settlement with the at-fault party’s insurance company. This gets a settlement check into your hand as quickly as possible and allows you to avoid the time and hassle of going to court.
In those instances when the insurance company will not negotiate in good faith, we will not hesitate to file a civil suit.
It is important to avoid talking with or providing a statement to any insurance company. Insurers often request a recorded statement from you, as though it is a normal part of the claims process.
However, the insurance company can use any part of your statement against you, to minimize or undermine your claim.
The insurer may also approach you shortly after your accident and make you an undervalued settlement offer. Never agree to any settlement or sign any documents until you discuss your options with an attorney.
Documenting your claim and damages thoroughly can take weeks.
If you accept a settlement now, before you know how serious your injuries are or how long you have to miss work, you could give up your rights to recover any additional compensation.
We can assist you in getting the medical treatment and other resources you need while we pursue your claim.
This allows you to focus on your health and well-being while we focus on recovering the compensation you deserve.
When Should I Contact a Birmingham Truck Accident Attorney?
After a serious injury accident, it’s normal to feel fear and confusion in addition to your pain.
You may have no idea what to do or where to turn.
However, your next steps can significantly influence the outcome of your case.
Don’t take any chances with your future or risk your legal right to recover compensation. Talking to a lawyer can help you make the right choices.
The experienced personal injury attorneys of the Fob James Law Firm will aggressively fight for you and your future. We offer a free consultation, and we never collect any legal fees until we recover compensation for you.
Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation and case evaluation with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers in Birmingham, AL.