Biloxi Truck Accident Lawyers Representing Clients Injured in a Truck Accident
Truck accident claims can be complex because they often involve multiple parties, and thus you may need to deal with more than one insurance company. Truck accidents can be traumatic and often fatal occurrences. The Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, has handled countless trucking accident claims and helped clients achieve favorable outcomes, and we are ready to help you with your claim. Here are a few important facts about truck accident claims in Mississippi.
How Is Liability Determined in a Truck Accident?
Truck accidents may sometimes become rather complex cases, and there are many reasons for that – for example, a truck driver may be an independent owner-operator or work for a trucking company. In most cases, the truck driver is an employee hired by the trucking company. It is the company’s responsibility to maintain the trucks they own and ensure they are safe to drive, but they are also liable for the truck driver’s actions behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are often under a lot of pressure to perform and deliver loads on time. Some companies may even encourage drivers to break safety protocols (such as taking mandatory breaks after driving for long hours) in order to meet tight deadlines. This is a dangerous practice, as fatigued drivers often do fall asleep behind the wheel or are more prone to making critical mistakes and causing an accident. If an investigation determines that the driver caused the accident due to not following safety protocols, both the driver and the trucking company might be held responsible for the accident.
Truck accidents may also be caused by other factors such as equipment failure or malfunction. This means that other parties are likely partially responsible for the accident – the truck manufacturer, vendors that provide service to the carrier, the owner of the cargo being transported (or those responsible for loading and securing the cargo), and even the government agency responsible for designing and maintaining the highway. Determining liability in a truck accident is not always easy, and for that reason, working with a seasoned truck accident attorney who can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident is fundamental for your case.
What if More Than One Party Is Liable for My Accident?
If the accident investigation points to multiple parties contributing to the crash, you may likely be dealing with multiple insurance claims, and in some cases, a potential civil lawsuit to recover damages you may be entitled to. There are a few things to be aware of if you are dealing with multiple responsible parties and wish to maximize your compensation amount.
Truck insurance carriers would rather work quickly to close out your claim and try to convince you to accept their initial settlement offer right away. This is because it is advantageous to them if they can resolve your claim in a short time and for the least amount of money possible. The issue with that is their initial settlement offer is often too low and does not usually cover all your damages, especially if your attorney has not had enough time to properly investigate all the evidence from the accident site.
For example, if the investigation points to both the truck driver and the carrier as responsible for the accident, you may have a claim against the driver’s insurance as well as against the trucking company. This can happen if, for instance, the driver was speeding or driving in an aggressive or reckless manner, and the trucking company was encouraging this behavior by pressuring the driver to cut corners and skip mandatory rest periods. If, in addition to these factors, poor road conditions and equipment failure also played a role in the accident, you may be looking at multiple claims. That is why it is never a good idea to accept the first offer of the truck insurance company, as further investigation may reveal you could be entitled to more compensation.
What Happens if I Was Partially at Fault for My Truck Accident?
If you were driving a passenger vehicle and were involved in a collision with a truck in Mississippi, you may still be allowed to seek compensation for your accident, even if you were partially responsible for it. Mississippi is a pure contributory negligence state, which means the parties in an accident are eligible to try to receive compensation regardless of how much they may have contributed to the accident. Even if you are more at fault than the other party, you are still not barred from trying to receive damages compensation.
However, the percentage of blame assigned to you directly impacts your final award amount if you are successful. For example, suppose your car was struck by a truck driver claiming that you were driving in the truck’s blind spot with your headlights turned off. On the other hand, you were distracted and did not realize the truck was about to switch lanes. One may say the accident could have been avoided if you had acted quickly to switch lanes or slow down and yield to the truck, honking your horn and having your headlights on. The truck driver did not check his mirrors and his blind spots looking for smaller vehicles before changing lanes. Thus, it could be said that both parties acted negligently and caused the accident.
In this scenario, if it was determined that you were 40% responsible for the accident and entitled to a payout of $10,000.00, you will only receive $6000.00 (which is $10,000.00-40%). For this reason, it is important to work with a truck accident attorney who can try to reduce the percentage of liability assigned to you and thus maximize your potential compensation amount.
What Kind of Evidence Is Needed for My Truck Accident Investigation?
The evidence that can be collected from a truck accident is unique and can be extremely helpful in determining exactly what happened in the moments leading to the crash. Unlike most passenger vehicles, commercial trucks are equipped with a number of devices that provide a snapshot of how the truck was being operated when the accident occurred.
One of those devices is popularly known as a “black box”, which is made to record information such as the truck’s average speed and whether the truck driver attempted to apply the brakes before the collision. It can also show how long the driver had been operating the truck without stopping to take a mandatory break. The correct name for this device is EDR or Event Data Recorder. Because the data contained in this device may be essential for your claim, most carriers hesitate to release it voluntarily. A skilled truck accident attorney can take the right steps to ensure you get access to the EDR data before it is destroyed.
Trucks manufactured in more recent years may have additional devices on board that can provide further evidence, such as a GPS and an inclinometer. A GPS may pinpoint the truck’s exact location before the accident, and the inclinometer shows the slope or inclination of the truck, i.e., whether it was going up or downhill. Data from these devices are usually critical to building an accurate reconstruction of the accident scene.
Other key pieces of evidence that can be used to build your case besides data from onboard devices are driver logbooks, reports from weigh stations and loading docks, witness statements, and results of post-accident alcohol and drug tests. A skilled attorney can leverage all of this information and recruit the help of expert witnesses to reconstruct the accident and get a clear picture of who is mostly responsible for causing it.
Why Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for My Truck Accident Case?
Besides being a traumatic and catastrophic event, a truck accident is by default a more complex type of claim when compared to other types of auto accidents. Most often, you might find yourself facing off against a truck insurance carrier that is more interested in cutting its costs by offering you the lowest possible settlement while trying to make it seem like you were mostly responsible for the accident. In other cases, dealing with multiple responsible parties can make matters even more confusing.
At the Rundlett Law Firm, PLLC, our truck accident attorneys can handle every aspect of your claim – from handling paperwork and insurance phone calls to gathering evidence and representing you in the courtroom. Our legal team knows how to negotiate with insurance carriers on your behalf and understands the importance of moving quickly to gather and preserve key pieces of evidence that may make all the difference for your case.
When you come to us for help with a truck accident claim, our lawyers will conduct a thorough investigation to understand exactly what happened and determine which party or parties are responsible for the accident.
Our firm has represented countless clients hurt in a truck accident in and around Biloxi, MS, and our attorneys are dedicated to building a strong case for you so you can maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation for your pain, suffering, property damage, and other losses resulting from your accident. If you have been a victim of a truck accident, contact our office at 228-338-1515 and schedule a no-commitment consultation to discuss your case and learn your options.