Durham Truck Accident Lawyer Helping the Injured
Because trucks are so much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, truck accidents can be terrifying – the force exerted by a vehicle of that size when traveling at speed can cause tremendous damage. As a result, truck accidents typically result in severe injuries, often much more severe than your typical car accident.
However, the size of the truck and the severity of the injuries involved is not what makes these cases unique. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident or commercial vehicle accident and need to pursue a claim, you need an attorney experienced in handling truck accident cases who knows how to navigate the complexities of your case. A Durham truck accident lawyer can protect your rights and help you pursue a successful claim for your injuries.
Durham Truck Accident Lawyer Explains Common Causes of Accidents
As discussed above, many truck accidents are the result of the same unsafe driving behaviors. However, there are some causes that are more prevalent in truck accidents:
- Drowsy driving. Truck drivers spend very long hours behind the wheel and are under a great deal of pressure to make deliveries on time. As a result, driving while fatigued and falling asleep behind the wheel are increasing reasons for truck accidents. Driving while drowsy can cause slowed reaction time, clouded thinking, and poor decision-making.
- Lack of training or experience. Driving a large truck requires a specific skill set. As mentioned above, trucking companies are responsible for ensuring their drivers have the necessary training and experience to ensure they can operate the truck safely.
- Mechanical failures. Large trucks are almost constantly on the road and require regular maintenance to ensure they are in good working order. Both drivers and their companies must take the necessary steps to make sure maintenance is performed regularly and any issues are addressed immediately. Failing brakes, old tires, or other problems can result in a catastrophic injury.
Identifying the cause of your accident is critical to pursuing a successful claim. Unfortunately, determining the cause of a truck accident can be quite difficult, and there are multiple factors involved. An experienced Durham truck accident lawyer will review your case and identify the potential causes so that you can determine who may be liable for your injuries.
About Negligence in Truck Accident Cases
All drivers have a legal obligation to drive safely at all times, including truck drivers. Many accidents are unintentional but sometimes negligence is a contributing factor to a catastrophic truck accident. Similar to car accident cases, often truck accidents are the result of mistakes by drivers and manufacturers. Speeding, unsafe lane changes, distracted driving, and defective parts can contribute to accidents and serious injuries.
Driving commercial trucks requires special training and a specific license because large trucks require a greater distance to stop, are harder to maneuver at speed, and have larger blind spots than your average passenger vehicle. As a result, negligence in a truck accident case arguably should be judged according to a different standard than in a car accident. For example, speeding in a large truck presents a far greater hazard than a speeding passenger vehicle.
Potential Liability in Commercial Vehicle Accident Cases
One of the most complicated aspects of truck accident cases is the fact that there may be more than one party responsible for your injuries:
- The truck driver. The truck driver’s negligence could have contributed to the accident.
- The trucking company. The trucking company is responsible for ensuring their drivers are properly trained and adequately supervised. In addition, they are also responsible for ensuring the truck is properly maintained and is safe to be driven on our roadways.
- The cargo loaders. An unbalanced load can make a truck very difficult to drive safely. The company responsible for loading the truck could have contributed to the crash.
- Other drivers. The truck driver may have been trying to avoid an accident with another driver who was negligent.
Some truck drivers are independent contractors or may own their trucks. These situations can further complicate who may be liable for your accident.
Finally, there may also be multiple insurance companies involved in a truck accident case, which can lead to delays and leave you feeling like you are trapped in the middle of an insurance dispute. An experienced Durham truck accident lawyer can help you navigate these complexities so that your claim gets resolved as quickly as possible.
Vicarious Liability: Holding the Trucking Company Liable
Many truck accidents are the result of the driver’s negligence, but ultimately, the trucking company is responsible for their drivers. To put it another way, trucking companies are vicariously liable for the actions of the drivers. Under the law, all employers can be held liable for accidents caused by their employees if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment. This means that the trucking company may be held accountable for your injuries and other losses.
However, there are exceptions to this rule, and trucking companies do what they can to limit their liability. For example, the drivers may be considered independent contractors or may have been “off the clock” and driving for their own personal purposes when the accident occurred. Pursuing a claim against the trucking company is always difficult, even when it is clear that you have a valid claim. An experienced Durham truck accident attorney will know how to get the compensation you deserve.
When the Trucking Company May Be At Fault
There are also instances where accidents are caused by the trucking company’s negligence. Trucking companies have a legal obligation to ensure that their drivers and their trucks are safe to be on the road with other motorists. Trucking companies can be held liable when they are negligent in the following ways:
- Failing to maintain the truck in good working order
- Failing to adequately supervise or train their drivers
- Failing to conduct background checks and screen out potentially dangerous drivers
- Encouraging unsafe driving practices
There are a variety of ways in which the trucking company’s negligence can lead to a serious accident. Proving negligence on the part of the trucking company can be quite difficult. A Raleigh truck accident attorney will know how to get the evidence you need to prove your case.
About North Carolina and Federal Trucking Regulations
Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to both state and federal trucking laws that govern many aspects of what they do. Intended to keep motorists safe, these laws include the following requirements:
- Rest requirements for drivers
- Maintenance standards
- Weight and size limits
- Requirements for the transportation of hazardous materials
- Commercial driver’s license requirements
Violations of state or federal trucking regulations are compelling evidence that your accident was caused by negligence on the part of the driver or the trucking company, perhaps even both. An experienced truck accident lawyer will know the laws that apply to your case.
Breaking Down the Need for a Durham Truck Accident Lawyer
There is no legal obligation for you to hire a lawyer if you have been involved in a truck accident. If you have not been seriously injured and are certain you won’t have any uncovered losses, it may make sense for you to simply move on with your life. Unfortunately, many people realize that they should have hired a lawyer only when it is too late. They may have medical bills they can’t pay, lost wages, and severe injuries that have left them wondering if life will ever be the same. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, here are the biggest reasons to consider hiring a lawyer.
1. There Are Multiple Parties Involved
Because tractor-trailers are so big and heavy, it is not uncommon for them to collide with multiple vehicles in the event of an accident. If there are multiple vehicles involved in your accident it can make your case significantly more complex. For example:
- There may not be sufficient insurance coverage to cover all claims.
- The negligence of other drivers may have contributed to the accident, complicating the question of who is at fault.
- Drivers may have conflicting accounts of what happened making it difficult to identify the cause of the accident.
An experienced Durham truck accident lawyer who has handled all types of truck accidents involving multiple vehicles will know how to sort through the issues and help you successfully pursue your claim.
2. Truck Accidents Have Unique Issues
Similar to many car accidents, many truck accidents are the result of simple errors or negligence on the part of the driver. However, many other truck accidents have unique aspects that may play a role in your case:
- Was the driver and/or trucking company in compliance with all federal, state, and local trucking regulations?
- Was the accident caused by a mechanical issue on the truck due to negligent maintenance?
- Is the driver an employee of the trucking company or an independent contractor? Is there some other corporate entity that may be responsible for the accident, such as the party who was responsible for loading the truck?
- Was the accident caused by an unbalanced or unsecured load?
- Was the truck carrying hazardous materials that caused additional injuries?
An experienced Durham truck accident lawyer will be able to identify these issues and determine how they affect your case.
3. You Have Suffered Serious Injuries That Require Extensive Medical Treatment
Because of their size and weight, truck accidents can result in catastrophic injuries and even death. Even if you have health insurance, the potential long-term cost of your injuries can be significant. While most of your medical bills may be covered, you may have expensive deductibles or copays that can accumulate over time. In addition, your injuries may require you to miss work. The lost income stemming from your accident could impose a heavy financial burden on top of any uncovered medical expenses you are already facing. Working with a Durham truck accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you need to cover all of the losses caused by your accident.
Contact a Durham Truck Accident Lawyer for a Free Consultation
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, your future is at stake. You may be unable to work, pay your bills, or support your family. You need someone on your side who knows how to help you get through this.
Founded in 1982, the attorneys at Martin & Jones have decades of experience helping injured people in the Durham area, and across the state of North Carolina. Whether in or out of the courtroom, we fight to get you fair compensation for your injuries. If you’d like to discuss your case with a Durham truck accident lawyer, call us at 1-800-662-1234 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.