How We Investigate Truck Accident Claims
We begin our investigation of your truck accident injury case by immediately visiting the scene of the accident and by gathering and preserving evidence. Truck accidents differ from car accidents in that your Chattanooga truck accident lawyer must gather valuable information from a broad range of sources to prove negligence.
Our full investigation involves gathering evidence from all available sources, including:
- Global position systems (GPS)
- Drivers’ logs
- Black boxes, which are installed on many 18-wheelers and other commercial vehicles
- Truck maintenance records
- National databases regarding out-of-state organizations
If a Georgia or Tennessee big truck accident injured you, you have many questions about your claim and the legal battle ahead of you. What can a Georgia or Tennessee personal injury lawyer do for you? What unique facts might affect your case? What is the value of your case? We discuss the answer to these questions and more. Our Georgia and Tennessee truck accident lawyers have years of experience in these cases, winning million dollar verdicts for our clients.
Commonly Asked Questions
Trucks are required to carry higher amounts of insurance coverage. The drivers must also meet higher safety standards than other vehicle drivers. Trucks travel in interstate commerce and therefore, are subject to many federal regulations that do not apply to other vehicles. Trucking companies also have a responsibility to perform background checks prior to hiring drivers and must periodically evaluate existing employees.
Drivers are subject to limits on the number of hours they can drive in a given day. Drivers are also subject to testing for drugs and alcohol, both randomly and in the event of an accident. Violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act can provide the basis for establishing fault on the part of the trucking company and its driver.
The average commercial truck weighs 80,000 pounds, while the average passenger vehicle is only about 5,000 pounds. The vast size difference puts the occupants of the other vehicles at far greater risk of serious injury.
The injured victim, and in some cases their spouse. In a Georgia, in a truck accident wrongful death action, the widow of the victim on behalf of all family members or one of his children. In Tennessee, in a wrongful death action, the executor of the victim’s estate.
The driver, owner of the tractor-trailer, owner of the trailer and the company identified on the trailer even if it is someone other than the owner and driver. In some circumstances the loading facility that placed the contents in the trailer and possibly the owner of the contents of the trailer.
Investigation is extremely important in all cases, but even more so in truck cases. Drivers must keep a log and by law may only drive a certain number of hours per day. So, it is important to establish whether the driver properly kept the log and whether the driver had not exceeded the allotted hours of driving time when the accident occurred. Violation of these standards may impose additional liability on the truck. They can be difficult to discover if you do not have a Chattanooga truck accident lawyer investigate immediately.
Every trucking case should have experts to assist an investigation and to analyze the information for potential testimony on liability. It is also important to employ experts in order to undermine trucking company positions that they regularly conducted safety inspections or their driver properly kept driving logs.
In a death case, both Georgia and Tennessee trucking case law allow the family to recover damages for loss of care, comfort, support and guidance the victim would have provided his family. Additionally, Georgia and Tennessee law allows the victim’s family to recover any medical bills, the victim’s pain and suffering and the victim’s future loss of earnings.
In a personal injury case, the injured victim can recover for pain, disability, emotional distress, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, and any uncompensated medical bills.
The statute of limitation for a Georgia personal injury claim is two years. In Tennessee, it is only one year.
According to recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large trucks are responsible for 55 percent of all car accidents on U. S. roadways and 44 percent of two-vehicle crashes between trucks and other motor vehicles.
- Driver actions or errors were responsible in 87 percent of these cases, according to the data. Examples include:
- Driving too fast for road conditions
- Falling asleep behind the wheel
- Distracted driving
- Panic and poor directional control
- Defective vehicle parts
- Poor maintenance
In addition, the NHTSA listed brake problems as the most common associated risk factor in truck accidents. The NHTSA found in 2,000 cases environmental factors (e.g., rain, snow) as the critical cause of the collisions.
There is no guarantee of how long it will take to reach a settlement in a truck accident case. It could be several months or years, depending on if the case goes to trial.
However, it is safe to say that your case will most likely settle if you hire an experienced Chattanooga truck injury lawyer. That’s because insurance companies know that trials are more expensive and riskier. It’s in their favor to place a full and fair settlement offer on the table before going to court.
With that said, expect the negotiations process to go on for a while. Most insurance companies do not agree to settlements until they see a real risk of going to trial. For this reason, it is common for an insurance company to make a good settlement offer right before the trial begins.
For your Georgia or Tennessee trucking accident case, you should contact a Chattanooga trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible. Dennis and King will give you a free consultation. So, you have nothing to lose by contacting an attorney early on. The down side to not contacting an attorney is that evidence may be lost or destroyed. The longer you wait to retain an experienced Chattanooga trucking accident lawyer, the harder it is for an attorney and their investigators to piece together the facts.
You should not accept an insurance company’s initial offer after a truck accident. These types of cases often result in catastrophic trauma, with physical, financial and emotional wounds that can last a lifetime.
It’s practically guaranteed that you are entitled to more compensation than what the insurance company initially offers you. It is very important that you do not focus only on your existing bills when you are weighing a settlement offer from an insurance company. Consider how many future bills you will be facing.
Most initial settlement offers from insurance companies do not account for the future, and people who accept such settlements only learn later that they will be responsible for paying all of those expenses out of their own pockets. You should decline any settlement offer and let a lawyer negotiate a more suitable settlement for you.
Sharing fault in the crash does not necessarily prohibit you from recovering compensation, but it could certainly affect the amount you are ultimately awarded. Georgia and Tennessee use a modified comparative negligence standard in personal injury cases. This means their degree of fault limits a person’s recovery. So, if you were responsible for 50% or more of the accident, you get nothing.
The good news is that under this rule, it’s possible that you could recover some money regardless of your degree of fault as long as your fault does not exceed 49%. For example, if a jury awards you $100,000 in a truck accident, but the jury finds you are 20% at fault, the jury will reduce your award by $20,000 dollars and you would ultimately receive $80,000 dollars.
There are five things to consider as you look for a Chattanooga truck accident lawyer:
1. Experience – experience is a key indicator of an attorney’s knowledge in their area of practice, but you should look beyond the amount of years an attorney has been in practice. When evaluating experience, look for attorneys who focus on the area of law under which your case falls, the types of cases they handle and how they have resolved them. Tricia Dennis and Russell King have many decades of experience in both successfully settling personal injury cases through settlement negotiations and obtaining winning verdicts in trial. Our wide experience means we have the ability to use both the tools of settlement and, if necessary, the tools of the courtroom to maximize the value of your Tennessee or Georgia truck accident case.
2. Truck Accident Experience – Experience is not created equally. Just because an attorney has years of legal experience does not mean they have the right kind of experience for your truck accident case. Truck accident cases are very complex. They usually involve serious injuries, numerous state and federal regulations, and many potential causes. Trucking companies and their insurance companies are large and powerful corporations that have huge resources to go to war against your claim. They fight to pay as little as possible, if anything at all. By working with proven Georgia and Tennessee truck accident attorneys at Dennis and King, you benefit from working with attorneys who have hands-on experience maximizing the value of your truck accident case.
3. Resources – Truck accident cases are expensive. Trucking companies and their insurance companies are willing to spend thousands of dollars to defend themselves. So, you must choose an attorney or law firm that has the resources to conduct thorough investigations, hire and work with medical and expert witnesses like engineers, and take a case to trial if necessary. Our firm has achieved successful results for clients throughout the years in part because we have the resources to level the playing field with powerful trucking and insurance companies that place profits over people.
4. Reputation – How former clients, other attorneys and local communities regard an attorney and their firm is important. Always look at law firm’s ratings and client testimonials. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT HIRING A TV SETTLEMENT MILL THAT WILL SIMPLY “PROCESS” YOUR CLAIM. Dennis and King are Chattanooga car and truck accident lawyers who have been practicing for a combined 75 years in this community. We understand the court systems of both Tennessee and Georgia. We probably know the doctors treating you. We have conducted enough trials, we understand the jury hearing your case. As you can see from our testimonials, our clients trust us and are satisfied with the personal service we give each client.
5. Record of success – Although all cases are different and result do not guarantee success in your case, an attorney’s record of success offers evidence of their ability to successfully handle and resolve cases. At Dennis and King, we have recovered millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements for our clients, including those harmed in truck accidents.
When you consider the factors needed to succeed in your Georgia or Tennessee truck accident case, it becomes clear that Dennis and King has the experience, resources, and determination to help truck accident victims and their loved ones navigate their legal journeys and pursue the maximum compensation possible.