INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT WITH A TRACTOR TRAILER?
Truck accidents and accidents involving tractor trailers are one of Bradley Law Group's key practice areas. We have done this due to the devastating damages that large trucks can cause when they are not operated properly. Legal cases resulting from accidents involving trucks are very complicated and involve far more investigation than a standard car accident case. We take a hard line against negligent truck drivers in order to hold them accountable for the damages that they have caused.
There are approximately 500,000 tractor trailer accidents in the United States every year. That works out to be about one accident every 17 minutes. Tractor trailer accidents also account for almost 11% of all vehicle related deaths.
Special Steps in Tractor Trailer Cases:
The trucking industry is heavily regulated by the federal government. In complying with federal legislation, trucking companies are required to keep “driver files” with information concerning each driver’s history. Trucking companies also generate internal “incident reports” whenever one of their trucks is involved in a loss. Both of these are incredibly useful when trying to prove liability and damages in a case like yours. Truck drivers are also required to keep mileage log books detailing the time that they have driven and the time that they have rested. We gather these log books to see if the truck driver violated the law by driving for too long in a day. Trucking companies will frequently send their investigators to the scene of the accident to gather evidence. Depending on the trucking company, some will have an investigator on scene before the wreck has been removed from the road! Bradley Law Group has access to trained investigators and accident reconstruction experts. If the trucking company wants to argue that the accident wasn’t their fault, they will have to deal with our experts.
Frequent Causes of Tractor Trailer Accidents:
- Driver error
- Faulty maintenance of tractor trailer
- Driver fatigue (not enough sleep)
- Failure to properly secure load
- Drugs or alcohol
- Failure to properly inspect tractor trailer
An Incentive to Drive Too Fast and Too Far:
Many trucking companies pay their drivers based on the distance that they drive. The more miles a driver travels, the more he is paid. The federal law limits the amount of time that a tractor trailer driver can be behind the wheel in a 24 hour period. With limited time, the tractor trailer driver has a financial incentive to drive as far as he can in the time permitted. Sometimes this results in speeding and other reckless driving. It is dangerous to operate any vehicle in a negligent fashion, but it is incredibly dangerous to operate a tractor trailer this way. When this is done, truck drivers are putting profits before people and this isn’t right. We also see cases where the tractor trailer driver will ignore the federal law and will drive for too long without sleep in order to earn more money. This is incredibly dangerous.
Bradley Law Group seeks out all documentation from a truck driver’s employer as well as any applicable government agencies to determine how many laws they have violated. Depending on which laws were violated, you may be entitled to both compensatory and punitive damages.
WHAT KIND OF DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER?
1. Compensatory Damages: Compensatory Damages are awarded to “compensate” you for the damages that you may have sustained as a result of your accident. These damages typically include the following:
- Medical bills
- Prescription bills
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering
- Lost wages
- Mileage to and from doctor visits
- Permanent impairments / disabilities
- Permanent disfigurement (scarring)
- Future medical bills
2. Punitive Damages: Punitive damages may be available to you if the at-fault driver was intoxicated or was driving in a reckless manner. North Carolina law allows punitive damages to be recovered in these situations for two reasons. First, punitive damages are awarded to punish the drunk or reckless driver for their conduct. Second, punitive damages are awarded to deter the drunk or reckless driver and others from similar conduct in the future. Bradley Law Group works hard and has the experience to recover punitive damages whenever they are allowed by law.
Things to Do Following a Tractor Trailer Accident:
- Call 911 and wait for the police or State Highway Patrol to respond.
- Seek medical treatment for your injuries.
- If possible, have someone take pictures of your injuries, the accident scene and the vehicles involved in the collision.
- Write down the name, address and phone number for all witnesses to the accident.
- Keep a daily diary and record how you feel and how your life has been affected as a result of the accident.
- Request an inspection of the tractor trailer by a trained expert.
- Send letters to the truck driver, the trucking company and the truck driver’s insurance company demanding that they preserve any and all evidence, documents, photos or other information that pertains to your accident. This correspondence should be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. This is commonly referred to as a “spoliation” letter.
- Obtain a copy of the tractor trailer’s “Black Box” data. This will allow you to determine the truck’s speed, braking, etc.
- Research the history of the truck driver and the trucking company. Has this driver been in other accidents? Was he properly trained and licensed? Has he violated federal laws in the past concerning operation of a tractor trailer? Does he have a history of impaired driving?
*Our lawyers and staff will take over all investigation duties after we have been retained as your law firm.
Things NOT TO DO Following a Tractor Trailer Accident:
- DO NOT speak with any insurance company until you have spoken with a lawyer.
- DO NOT sign anything sent to you by any insurance company. Show these documents to your lawyer.
- DO NOT allow any insurance company to take your “recorded statement”.
- DO NOT discuss the facts of the accident or your injuries with any insurance company.
- DO NOT refuse medical treatment if your are hurt.
Why should I hire a lawyer to handle my case?
Tractor trailer accident cases are far more complex than you would think. The insurance company has teams of highly trained adjusters, investigators and lawyers to protect their interests. Standing alone, you are no match for the insurance company and their team of professionals. It’s not a fair fight and the insurance company knows it. Bradley Law Group can level the playing field. We have the experience and the resources necessary to make sure that you recover any damages that you may be entitled to.
“Injured people recover 3 ½ times more when they were represented by a lawyer.”
(-2004 Insurance Research Council study)
Insurance companies are in business to make money. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums and paying injured people as little possible. It’s a great business model for the insurance company. Collect as much as you can and pay out as little as possible. Bradley Law Group has the experience and the resources to make the insurance company play fair. We can help maximize your settlement.
What to expect from Bradley Law Group
- We will talk with you about your accident and your injuries.
- We will assist you in obtaining medical treatment if necessary.
- We will handle all communications with the insurance company regarding your personal injury claim. Let us deal with the hassles while you focus on healing.
- We will gather all accident reports, medical records, bills, evidence, etc.
- We will investigate all insurance coverage matters and open all appropriate claims.
- We will answer all of your questions in a timely and professional manner.
- We will assemble all evidence for review by the insurance company once you have completed your treatment.
- We will negotiate with the insurance company to get the highest offer possible.
- We will discuss your options once we have the highest offer from the insurance company to determine whether settlement or litigation is best for you.
- We will handle the disbursement of all settlement funds in accordance with state and federal laws to protect you.
- We will be your trusted partner throughout the duration of your case. It is our goal to answer your questions and put you at ease.
Is it a good idea for me to try to settle with the insurance company before hiring a lawyer?
NO! We have had to reject many cases that people have damaged because they attempted to handle themselves. Some people think that they will get more money if they don’t hire a lawyer. You get to keep more if you don’t have to pay a lawyer, right? Wrong. On average, people represented by a lawyer recover 3 ½ times more than people who try to settle their case without an attorney.
(2004 Insurance Research Council Study)
When a person attempts to settle their case on their own, the insurance company knows that they have the upper hand in the negotiations and will typically make an extremely low and unfair offer. Lots of people try to hire attorneys after they their case has been undervalued by the insurance company. By the time the insurance company has made an offer to someone who is unrepresented the case is normally damaged to the point that it cannot be fixed without expensive and time consuming litigation. You were already the victim of an accident, don’t let the insurance company make you a victim for a second time. Let Bradley Law Group represent you from the start. We will make sure that your case is handled correctly so that your rights are protected and you receive the highest settlement possible.
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