Truck Accident Lawyer in Louisville KY
David Bryant Law, PLLC
Whenever an accident occurs, there can be both personal injury and property damage. Personal injury covers physical injuries as well as mental anguish and pain and suffering. The primary goal of personal injury lawsuits is to get the victims who are injured by someone else’s actions or inactions the compensation they deserve.
To successfully pursue a personal injury claim in Louisville, you should seek the services of an expert personal injury lawyer who can provide you with exceptional representation in a court of law.
When an accident involves a commercial motor vehicle like a semi-truck, things are a little different than normal automobile accidents. We represent people involved in accidents like this and understand the things that matter most, the nuances.
Having the resources needed to pursue a successful case can be expensive to tackle and investigate — it’s essential that it’s done right. That’s where we come in. We’re here to help you get the compensation you deserve for what’s happened and you don’t pay unless we win.
We’re able to do this because we have the resources, experience, and knowledge of what it takes to win your case. With nearly 15 years successfully handling truck accident cases, we know what makes your situation unique and we know how to hold the at fault party responsible for your injuries.
Top 10 Truck Accident Factors
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which analyzed hundreds of accidents over a two and a half year period, there are several contributing factors to a large truck crash.
These factors may include maintenance, vehicle design and manufacture, driver training, weather conditions, and many others. The study concluded that,– although their presence does not always cause a crash,– speed, alcohol, and fatigue are major factors which greatly increase the chances of an accident.
The study also concluded that, out of hundreds of contributing factors, the top ten factors in large truck crashes were, in descending order:
- Brake Problems
- Traffic Flow Interruption (congestion, previous crash)
- Prescription Drug Use
- Traveling Too Fast for Conditions
- Unfamiliarity with the Roadway
- Roadway Problems
- Required to Stop Before Crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
- Over-the-Counter Drug Use
- Inadequate Surveillance
Other risk factors found in the study included the driver making an illegal maneuver, feeling under work pressure from their employer, illness, and inattention.
Causes of Truck Accidents
As with the associated risk factors in a truck accident, the causes of wrecks are numerous. An accident can be caused by the driver’s own negligence such as by speeding, distracted driving, or through fatigue. Wrecks may also be caused by improper loading or inspection or a lack of proper maintenance of the truck.
Although rules designed to prevent driver fatigue have been put in place by governing bodies, these rules are not always followed by drivers and carriers. This makes driver fatigue a major risk and concern when it comes to truck accidents.
Often, drivers are paid by the load, so they drive longer hours to make more deliveries. The more loads they deliver, the better their pay will be. Driving longer hours may put the truck driver at risk of becoming fatigued at the wheel, which could cause an accident.
An improperly maintained vehicle may break down or a tire may burst on the road, causing the truck to become uncontrollable and leading to a wreck. Incorrectly loaded cargo may fall from the truck and damage another vehicle.
Truck Accident Liability
The important thing to keep in mind is that, while there are similarities between large truck wrecks and accidents between non-commercial vehicles, there are some things that make large truck wrecks unique.
When a driver loses control of a commercial vehicle or causes a wreck through negligence, the results can be catastrophic. Death and serious injury such as traumatic brain injuries, broken bones, and spinal and neurological damage can occur in wrecks involving vehicles with the size and weight of a large truck.
In the event of a large truck wreck, there are several parties who may be held liable for the crash.
Potential Defendants in a Truck Accident Case
To get the victim of a truck accident the compensation they deserve, it is important that an attorney investigates each party who may have been responsible for the wreck. This involves looking at possible fault on the part of the driver, the driver’s employer, the trucking company, the manufacturer of the truck, and any third-party contractors involved, as well as the insurance companies for each of these parties.
In order to find fault or liability on the part of anyone beyond the driver, an attorney will need to determine whether the driver was working directly for the trucking company or if they were an independent contractor.
In cases where the driver was working directly for a trucking company, the company may be held liable for negligence leading to an accident. In cases where the driver was working as an independent contractor, an attorney may need to prove how much oversight the trucking company had over the driver in order to hold the trucking company liable for the accident.
The determination of who and how many parties have some share in the fault or liability is important because each party likely has its own insurance policy. Figuring out who is liable not only holds those parties responsible, it helps ensure that the victim is appropriately compensated through those separate insurance policies.
Semi-Trucks: The Role of Drive Fatigue
Operating a commercial motor vehicle is a lot different than a normal vehicle. Professional drivers are held to a higher standard while out on the highway due to the damage that their vehicles can cause to people and property if handled carelessly.
When drivers push too many hours trying to get a load to their destination on time it’s easy to become fatigued. Without proper rest, sleep, and recovery between driving hours, truck drivers can become just as dangerous as distracted drivers or drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, between 2009 and 2013, over 72,000 semi-truck accidents involved fatigue. In that same time period, accidents involving fatigue caused more than 41,000 injuries and over 800 deaths.
Holding Violaters Accountable: Hours of Service (HOS) Rules
Truck drivers are in a rush to deliver quickly and on time because many are paid by the mile. It doesn’t help when these drivers work for a carrier as a company driver and have their dispatcher pressuring them to get the load to the customer on time.
When this happens they will often push themselves beyond the legal limits imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which limits the number of hours they can drive each day as well as the total number of hours they can drive in an 8-day period.
When drivers and carriers don’t hold themselves to the standards required by regulation, accidents can occur. And when they do, the drivers and carriers must be held accountable.
Exposure of the Broker or Carrier
Depending on your case, the broker or shipper can be found liable or negligent. This determination can be complex, but a truck accident attorney has the skills necessary to investigate and discover if the broker or shipper can be held responsible. This determination is important in finding all of the parties liable for a crash and holding them responsible for their actions.
Truck drivers can have different contractual relationships with brokers, carriers, or shippers which determine whether a company can be held liable for the truck driver’s actions. Some brokers will hire truckers as independent contractors to try to limit their liability in the event of an accident.
In a principal-agent relationship, the broker has the right to set rules for their agent (the truck driver) and determines how the work will be done. In an independent contractor relationship, the truck driver, acting as an “owner operator”, determines for themself how to make the deliveries and do their job for the broker. Principal-agent relationships can make the company legally responsible for the drivers’ actions, while an independent contractor relationship can limit liability.
In cases where a shipper attempts to limit its liability by claiming the driver was an independent contractor, a truck accident lawyer will be able to determine if such a relationship between the driver and the employer existed.
Some contracts between drivers and shippers may misclassify the driver as an independent contractor or the nature of the relationship between the two does not reflect an independent contractor relationship. If this is the case, a truck accident lawyer may be able to determine that the broker or shipper was in some way liable for the accident.
In order to determine the nature of the relationship and the liability, a truck accident lawyer will look at evidence such as the original contract, the trucker’s log books, the company’s records, communication between the driver and the company, and shipping or cargo receipts.
Negligent Maintenance and Hiring Claims
Negligent maintenance and negligent hiring and retention claims may also be filed in a truck accident lawsuit.
In a negligent maintenance claim, experts may be retained to determine if the company performed its duty to properly maintain it’s property or if it used faulty equipment.
An attorney will look into whether or not the tires were defective, unevenly worn, or retread. They will determine if the vehicles were working properly and were regularly maintained. They will also check maintenance logs to ensure that they are complete, updated, and in accordance with state and federal laws.
For negligent hiring and retention claims, attorneys look into the hiring practices of the trucking company in question. The history of the driver will be considered as well as whether or not the driver was properly trained and experienced enough to drive a commercial vehicle.
Trucking companies have a responsibility to perform due diligence in their hiring process. If they do not appropriately consider a driver’s history when they hire that driver, then they may fall afoul of state and federal laws.
Reported Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Accidents Involving Injuries in Kentucky
Damages from a Truck Accident
Victims of semi truck accidents can pursue compensation for many of the same injuries and damages that occur in car accidents. The end goal of a truck accident lawsuit is the same as in a car accident suit: to get the victim the compensation they deserve to get their lives back on track or to make up for the injuries caused by the accident.
Truck accident victims may be eligible for compensation for:
Current and Future Medical Expenses: Medical bills after a truck accident can become extraordinarily expensive. Truck accident victims may be eligible to receive compensation for medical treatment after a wreck including surgeries, emergency room visits, doctor’s appointments, assistive devices, and other care.
Lost Wages: You may be eligible to receive monetary compensation for income lost from being unable to work after an accident. Lost wages compensation applies to the period of time between the accident and the conclusion of your case.
Loss of Earning Capacity: It is possible that your accident has caused you to be unable to work in the same way that you did before the wreck. If it can be demonstrated that your capacity to work has been diminished, you may be eligible to receive compensation for the amount of money you could have made in your job had the truck accident not happened.
Pain and Suffering: Truck accident victims may be able to receive compensation for the physical pain and suffering that their injuries have caused them. This compensation is distinct from and in addition to compensation for treating those injuries.
Mental Anguish: In the aftermath of a truck accident, a victim may find themselves in a great deal of emotional and psychological pain including symptoms of PTSD, grief, embarrassment, and others.
Loss of Consortium: In some cases, the victim of a truck accident can no longer provide the same support, love, companionship, and/or care to their spouse or children. Loss of consortium claims may be pursued to compensate the victim’s family.
A truck accident lawsuit may also entail filing for punitive damages, which are meant to punish the company financially for their actions and deter future bad conduct. Punitive damages may be applicable and can be imposed if it is demonstrated that the trucking company should have known that their actions would cause harm or that their actions were intentional, malicious, fraudulent, or reckless leading up to the accident.
Truck Accident Settlement
If you have been in an accident involving a commercial vehicle, you may be struggling to pay your medical bills and return to life as normal. Insurance companies seeking to minimize the amount of money they will pay out to victims will often offer far less compensation than is appropriate. Unfortunately, many victims take the insurance company’s offer without considering if it is fair.
An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to inform you of your rights and can help you get the compensation for the injuries you deserve. They know that insurance companies will attempt to settle with you for as little money as possible and they know how to aggressively negotiate with the companies a victim deserves.
A truck accident attorney will be able to determine whether you have a claim and they will be able to figure out how many and which parties should be held responsible for your injuries.
David Bryant Law, PLLC
On Your Side
A Local Kentucky Law Firm Helping Victims of Personal Injury