We Are National Truck Accident Lawyers
- Over 40 Years of Experience
- More Than $3 Billion Won for Our Clients
- Thousands of Lives Changed
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Any motor vehicle accident can cause significant property damage and personal injuries, negatively affecting the quality of your life. However, when an accident involves a commercial vehicle, such as a truck, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer, the resulting impacts and injuries can be catastrophic—often devastating.
In the case of a truck accident, it is imperative to preserve relevant evidence, making it critical to act quickly in order to preserve your legal rights. And, because these cases are so complex, you need the help of an experienced and knowledgeable truck accident attorney who can help you uncover the truth in your fight for the maximum compensation allowed by law.
Meet Our Trucking Accident Leaders
Ken Suggs has long been considered one of the nation’s premier trucking liability trial lawyers, and served as President of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (now known as American Association for Justice), the leading national plaintiff’s bar association. He is a relentless advocate for his clients.
Matt White is a fierce advocate for victims of truck crashes. He works tirelessly on behalf of victims in both personal injury and wrongful death suits related to trucking, transportation, and highway construction crashes. As an active member of the American Association for Justice’s Trucking Litigation Group, he is able to leverage that national network to achieve the best possible outcomes for his clients.
How Do Truck Accidents Commonly Occur?
Causes of truck accidents can include:
- Driving impaired by alcohol or drugs
- Fatigue or sleep deprivation
- Neglecting local traffic laws
- The truck company’s failure to train its truck drivers properly
- Overloading or failing to safely load the truck
- The truck company’s failure to inspect, repair, and manage its fleet
- Distracted driving, such as the use of electronics, eating, drinking, or smoking
- Failing to notice other vehicles or pedestrians on the road
- Failing to properly manage space
- Following too closely
- Trucking company failing to monitor and correct drivers
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
A trucking accident claim can involve multiple parties, each bearing some degree of responsibility for the accident. For example, the driver may be liable for driving recklessly, while the trucking company may also be liable for its failure to maintain or inspect its vehicles. Determining liability in a truck accident can be difficult with so many factors in play.
The trucking industry is heavily regulated by federal agencies, and each state also has its own laws for monitoring commercial trucks. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) provide federal oversight of the trucking industry and detail strict rules truck companies and employees must follow to ensure roadway safety. Commercial truck drivers must be fully qualified and have met the requirements to receive a commercial driver’s license issued by the FMSCA to operate a commercial vehicle.
A truck driver may cause an accident through various actions. They may be driving recklessly, such as failing to yield, cutting off other drivers, or failing to stop when required. They may be driving while drowsy, distracted, or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They may be ignoring the rules of the road and local traffic laws, such as speeding.
If a driver employed by a trucking company causes an accident within the scope of his or her employment, the company can be held liable for the damages. The FMSCA has set standards for the terms under which a truck driver is allowed to operate when on a long-distance haul. Trucking companies must limit the number of hours a driver is allowed to operate during a shift so that it does not create a dangerous level of impairment caused by sleep deprivation. Companies cannot place unrealistic expectations on drivers that would force them to work long hours or operate a vehicle that exceeds the maximum weight limit for a commercial truck.
Trucking companies are also responsible for properly maintaining their vehicles used for long-distance trips. FMCSA regulations require a trucking company to routinely inspect its vehicles at least once every 12 months and to provide any repairs or updates when a defect is found. The company could be held liable for an accident caused by a vehicle malfunction that would have been corrected if inspected.
If a truck accident was caused by a malfunction of the truck’s mechanics or vital parts, the vehicle’s manufacturer can also potentially be held liable. Any defect must have occurred at the manufacturing stage of the truck and must have been unforeseen by the trucking company that purchased the vehicle.
- Brake failure
- Defective tires
- Faulty hydraulics
- Broken headlights, brake lights, or turn signals
- Defective anti-lock braking system
- Defective hitches on tractor-trailer trucks
- Malfunctioning power steering
- Faulty cargo straps or restraining devices
Brokers and Shippers
Current federal regulations only require commercial trucking companies operating in interstate commerce to carry $750,000 of insurance. That amount is often woefully inadequate to cover the damages that can be caused by a vehicle weighing 40 tons and traveling at highway speeds. In some cases, brokers—businesses who connect trucking companies and shippers—and shippers may be held liable. Your trucking lawyer needs to be able to make a thorough investigation to determine the identities of all potentially responsible parties.
Truck accidents are often the result of multiple violations committed by several parties, which means multiple claims may be filed against multiple parties—making this area of the law quite complex. A qualified truck accident lawyer will be able to navigate between the federal and state standards to identify the parties that committed the violations that caused the crash and hold them accountable.
The lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs are aggressive in conducting thorough investigations and searching out other financially responsible parties who may be at fault. For example, there may be highway defects, improper highway design, or faulty management of construction zones contributing to the crash.
What Does it Take to Prove Negligence in a Truck Accident Case?
One of the leading causes of truck accidents is negligence. You must be able to prove that your accident was caused by a negligent driver or the trucking company’s violation of federal or state regulations.
There are four elements needed to prove negligence in a personal injury claim:
- First, you must prove that the truck driver had a duty to ensure the safety of all those sharing the road by driving responsibly and within the law. In the case of the trucking company, you must prove it was obligated to follow safe loading and maintenance regulations.
- You must also prove that the truck driver or trucking company breached their respective duty and failed to act as others would have in a similar situation.
- Next, you must prove that the truck driver or trucking company was directly responsible for causing the accident.
- And lastly, you must prove that you suffered damages, in terms of personal injuries or death to the victim.
Proving negligence in a truck accident can be difficult. After all, a trucking company and its insurance provider will try to distance themselves from any act that could be considered negligent or reckless. To establish liability, personal injury claims require undeniable proof that the negligent actions of the party at fault caused the accident.
Our truck accident lawyers will seek evidence that proves the at-fault party’s negligence was the cause of your accident by:
- Examining the vehicle inspection logs to determine if there were any defective or malfunctioning parts that the trucking company knew about before the accident
- Researching the background of the driver for a history of traffic violations, prior accidents, arrest records, or failed drug or alcohol screenings
- Interviewing anyone who witnessed the accident or the events that led to it, and focusing on such issues as the driver’s prior behavior or the procedures the trucking company followed before approving the truck for long-distance use
- Reviewing any footage, photographs, documents, or other information provided by the Event Data Recorder “black box” that helps provide a realistic timeline of the crash and the state of the vehicle before the accident
- Reconstructing the events of the accident and those leading up to it to create an accurate representation of how the accident occurred
What Types of Damages Can be Recovered in a Truck Accident?
There are various types of damages you might be able to recover, both in terms of your quantifiable losses and your general damages. First, compensation for a truck accident can be awarded based on your economic losses, or out-of-pocket costs you incurred as a result of your injuries. Some examples include:
- Current medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Personal property damage
- Lost wages, if you are unable to go to work
- Loss of earning capacity
Truck accident victims or their families may also be able to recover non-economic damages, such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish or psychological and emotional trauma
- The loss of enjoyment of activities you are no longer able to do
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of comfort if the victim’s ability to socialize or care for loved ones has been affected by the accident
- An overall decline in the quality of your life
States have varying laws that provide different standards of awarding compensation, which might affect your right to pursue damages and the amount you receive. The damages you can recover might also be limited if you were partially at fault or contributed to the cause of the accident.
Under some limited circumstances, punitive damages can also be awarded, particularly if the defendant displayed actions that are considered especially malicious or reckless. In a truck accident claim, for example, punitive damages can be awarded if the trucking company knew the vehicle had a defective part but approved its use without regard for the consequences. Likewise, punitive damages could be awarded if a driver recklessly operated the truck, such as driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol, or distracted by cell phone usage.
Why Choose Janet, Janet & Suggs For Your Trucking Accident Claim?
Truck accident cases require an attorney who has a proven record of successfully holding negligent parties accountable for their actions, as well as a strong understanding of the many laws and regulations of the trucking industry. At Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC, our truck accident attorneys have won millions in verdicts and settlements for clients who have been injured or lost a loved one because of a negligent truck driver. These include:
- $9 million settlement for an 18-wheeler crash
- $2.5 million settlement for a crash involving a tractor-trailer
- Multi-million dollar confidential settlement involving a hazardous waste truck
JJS attorneys have been recognized by a variety of leading organizations including Best Lawyers®, Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America, AV Preeminent Ratings by Martindale-Hubbell, and as one of U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms. Many of our attorneys are also listed as Super Lawyers®. These recognitions from leading organizations reflect our continued commitment to working toward securing our clients’ futures when they have been harmed by trucking negligence.
If you or a loved one were injured in a commercial vehicle accident, let us discuss your legal rights and options with you. The truck accident lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC can help you seek compensation that may provide support for medical bills, lost wages resulting from an inability to work, funeral costs, and pain and suffering.
Our nationally recognized personal injury attorneys have decades of experience in helping injury victims. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, we do not charge any legal fees unless you receive compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your claim.