If you have been injured in a truck accident, the first step is to seek medical attention immediately. The next step is to preserve valuable evidence, if possible, while you are still at the scene of the accident. This includes taking photos of vehicle damage, contacting the police to file a report, and documenting your injuries.
Finally, you should notify your insurance company of the accident and contact an attorney who has experience handling truck accident claims as soon as possible. An experienced Wisconsin truck accident lawyer can evaluate your case, conduct a thorough investigation to determine liability, negotiate with the insurance company, and seek the maximum compensation possible for your injuries.
Oftentimes, truck accident victims are incapacitated and need immediate medical attention. However, when a victim does not suffer incapacitating injuries, it is important to gather as much information as possible while you are still at the scene of the accident. You will want to begin by photographing the accident site (e.g. skid marks, intersection where the accident took place), all vehicles involved, and your injuries and/or injuries to passengers.
You should also obtain the name of the truck driver, contact information, driver license number, the name of the company that owns the truck, and the name of the insurance company. Additionally, take down the names and contact information of any potential witnesses and request a copy of the police report.
Very soon after the accident, you may be contacted by the truck company’s insurer. While it is fine to share basic information such as your name and address with the insurance adjuster, you should not give any recorded statements about the accident or your injuries before you have spoken to a truck accident lawyer.
The insurance company is not looking out for your interests and anything you say about the accident can be used against you later. This is why it is important to have an attorney involved as early as possible after an accident.
Commercial trucks are vehicles used to transport goods, passengers, or other freight in commerce. Examples include 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, tractor trailers, tanker trucks, dump trucks, milk trucks, logging trucks, delivery vehicles, and other types of large freight trucks. Anyone who drives a commercial truck must have a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License), which subjects them to higher standards of driving and roadway conduct.
Truck accidents may be caused by a variety of factors, some of which involve driver error, mechanical failure, or weather conditions. Some of the most common causes of truck accidents in Wisconsin are:
Truck accidents can cause significant injuries due to the force exerted by the large vehicles involved. Injuries that are common in truck crashes include:
A fully loaded tractor trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, making it 20-30 times heavier than the average passenger car. Furthermore, semi-trucks can be as long as 53 feet and as wide as 8.5 feet. Consequently, large trucks take longer to stop, are more vulnerable to roll-overs, and are generally more difficult to maneuver than passenger cars.
Due to the size difference between a tractor trailer or semi-truck and a passenger vehicle, truck accidents tend to result in more serious injuries than other types of auto collisions. This is one reason truck accidents are more likely to cause fatalities than crashes involving only smaller motor vehicles. In fact, 69 percent of those killed in large truck crashes in 2015 were the occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles.
Additionally, truck drivers and companies are expected to carry higher liability insurance coverage than passenger car drivers. Thus, you are more likely to obtain compensation to fully cover your losses in a truck accident.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) set the standards for commercial truck drivers and their employers. FMCSRs establish driver qualifications, hours of service limits, maintenance requirements, load restrictions, and other rules regarding the safe operation of commercial trucks. There are also state rules that regulate various aspects of the trucking industry and establish traffic laws for commercial vehicles operating within Wisconsin.
In order to prove your truck accident claim, you must be able to demonstrate that the truck driver’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing your injuries. Proving liability in a truck accident case can be complicated because multiple parties may be responsible and there is a network of state and federal regulations that govern the trucking industry.
Examples of evidence commonly used to support a truck accident claim include, but are not limited to:
When an 18-wheeler rear ends a smaller passenger vehicle, the injuries are often catastrophic. In most cases, the vehicle that strikes from the rear will be at-fault in the accident, but you will still need to prove that the truck driver acted negligently to support your claim for compensation.
An FMCSA study on rear end crashes involving large trucks found that some of the most common contributing factors are brake failures, impaired driving, poor lighting conditions on the roadway, distracted driving, malfunctioning headlights, and improper use of turn signals.
Wisconsin adheres to a modified comparative fault law, which means that parties can still recover damages for their injuries so long as their share of liability in the accident is less than 50 percent. In a truck accident lawsuit, this means that you would need to prove that the truck driver or company is at least 50 percent at fault. If you share fault in the accident, your damages will be reduced by your portion of liability.
While every case is unique, the vast majority of personal injury claims are settled outside of court. There are a number of alternatives to resolving your claim in court, including arbitration or mediation. Generally speaking, a case ends up in court when the two opposing parties cannot reach a settlement agreement.
Depending on which parties are responsible for your injuries, you may be able to sue the truck driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, and/or a third party that provided maintenance on the truck. In many cases, the truck driver, trucking company, and the truck and trailer owner, may be held liable for the accident.
A truck company can be held liable for an accident caused by their driver based on one of the following theories of liability–vicarious/respondeat superior liability or direct liability. Under the doctrine known as respondeat superior, employers can be held liable for the negligent acts of their employees so long as the conduct is within the course and scope of their employment. Alternatively, truck companies can be held directly liable for their own negligent conduct, such as negligent hiring, inadequate training of drivers, or a failure to inspect or maintain their vehicles.
Truck accident claims can be complex. You have three years from the date of your accident to settle your claim or file a lawsuit. However, it can take a significant amount of time to investigate your accident and negotiate with insurance companies. Thus, it is essential that you seek legal assistance right away to avoid wasting any time. If you wait until after the statute of limitations has expired, you may be unable to recover any compensation for your losses. We suggest that you consult with an experienced truck accident attorney immediately after a wreck for a specific analysis of the statute of limitations and related issues in your case.
At Studinski Law, LLC, our legal team can help with your claim by investigating your truck accident, filing a lawsuit, negotiating with the insurance company, or preparing your case for trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached. We pride ourselves on providing aggressive, innovative, and compassionate representation and will work tirelessly to obtain the compensation you deserve.
In a truck accident lawsuit in Wisconsin, you may be able to recover the following damages:
The value of your claim and expected outcomes depend on the specific facts of your case.
If the accident was caused by the truck driver’s negligence and they were acting within the scope of their employment, their employer is often liable for your losses. Generally, the first step is to seek compensation by filing a claim with the truck company’s insurer. If you are not able to reach a fair settlement with the insurance company, you could file a personal injury lawsuit and take your case to court.
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