Our Law Firm Has Over 23 Years of Experience Litigating 18-Wheeler & Large Truck Accident Injury Cases in Dallas Texas
- Part 1 – Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
- Part 2 – Litigating Truck Accident Cases
- Part 3 – Trying a Truck Accident Case
- Unsafe Practices of Truck Drivers
- Truck Accidents Caused by Driver Fatigue
- Drunk Truck Driver Accidents
- Investigating Truck Accidents
- Why You Can’t Rely on the Police Report
- Truck Accident Reconstructionists
Dallas has always had a considerable amount of large-truck traffic. As more and more transport companies have come to call Dallas home, and as more retail stores and highway construction projects bring an ever-increasing number of goods and materials into the DFW Metroplex, it seems that we must share our local roads with an ever-increasing quantity and variety of commercial vehicles.
But whether your injury was caused by an 18-wheeler, a bus, a dump truck, a garbage truck, or anything else, you will find that all large commercial vehicles have a few similarities:
- They are generally larger and can inflict more harm than passenger cars.
- They are governed by different laws than are passenger vehicles.
- Lastly, and most importantly, they are owned by valuable corporate entities who will mount an aggressive defense aimed at denying plaintiffs fair compensation since accepting responsibility cuts into their bottom line.
The latter of which is the most important. If your injuries had been caused by a typical passenger car crash, you’d face less opposition due to the fact that most passenger cars are underinsured and their owners have few assets; thus, there is a practical limit on how much they will be forced to compensate you even when they lose in court. On the contrary, when dealing with a trucking company, they typically do have significant-enough assets to account for the harm they have inflicted upon you. But with so much hanging in the balance, trucking companies simply can’t afford to take responsibility for your injuries, so they react by investing heavily in a legal defense designed to reduce (or altogether eliminate) the compensation that you may receive. This is precisely why you will need legal representation of your own.
This article will explain the the following:
- How Truck Accident Cases Work — How the process works and what your lawyer does specifically.
- Why You’ll Need Legal Representation — Trucking companies will not want to voluntarily pay you, especially if you have a good case. We explain why.
- How Trucking Companies Use the Court Against You
- The Purpose of Filing a Lawsuit
- The Importance of Properly Investigating an 18-Wheeler Accident — This is VERY IMPORTANT.
How Truck Accident Cases Work
Since trucking companies invest considerable resources in defending themselves (read: since they go out of their way to avoid responsibility), having legal representation of your own is a necessity. Your case will be handled by our firm from start to finish, with considerable effort expended by our staff to make the process as easy on you as possible. Our goal is to make sure that all you have to do is focus on recovering from your injuries while we do the rest. Your case will play out in three distinct phases. Here’s how the process works:
Phase 1. You will obtain medical attention and hire a Dallas 18-wheeler accident attorney. Your attorney will take the necessary steps to build a strong foundation for your case. WARNING: Waiting for a police report is 100% the wrong way to handle a truck accident case. Your attorney must conduct an independent investigation, and it must be conducted as soon as possible following your accident.
- Seek medical attention and follow your doctor’s advice.
- Choose an attorney who can prove that they have experience winning truck accident cases.
- Your Attorney
- The defendant trucking company is put on notice and a spoliation of evidence letter is sent to the defendant and their legal counsel, post haste.
- Your attorney will conduct an investigation and determine how the accident occurred, who is to blame, and what legal recourse you have against the responsible parties (more on this in a subsequent section).
- As it relates to truck accidents, most often the defendants will attempt to deny liability, therefore evidence found in the 18-wheeler itself will help you prove your version of events. Therefore, it is often necessary for your attorney to obtain a subpoena such that the engine control module (ECM) data recorded by the truck can be downloaded and used as evidence. Such data will prove how fast the truck was traveling, what steering inputs were made, whether or not the truck driver used the brakes, etc.
- A thorough background check is performed on the truck driver and the trucking company, including a “SAFER” Company Snapshot and a DOT report.
- All evidence necessary to win your case is preserved so that it can be used in court.
- Additionally, your attorney will ensure that you get the medical attention that you need and that your injuries are properly diagnosed and chronicled.
Phase 2. Demand Phase. Your attorney will calculate the total of your damages and submit a demand to the defendant.
- Communicate with your attorney such that all of your damages are properly accounted for.
- Your Attorney
"Waiting for a police report is 100% the wrong way to handle a truck accident case. Your attorney must conduct an independent investigation, and it must be conducted as soon as possible following your accident."Michael Grossman
- To calculate your damages, your Dallas truck accident lawyer will add up all of your medical bills, illustrate and quantify disfigurement and/ or impairment, source wage and salary documents in order to show the impact that the injury has taken on your ability to earn a living, account for pain and suffering, etc. In cases involving significant injuries, a life care planner and/ or medical experts are consulted to provide a report which will detail the long-term effect of the accident on your life.
- Your attorney will calculate the sum total of your damages. Once your damages are quantified, your attorney will submit a demand letter to the defendant which will quote an amount that the defendant must pay you in order to settle the case out of court.
- The demand letter, medical records, photographs, expert reports, video statements, etc. are combined into a demand packet. Additionally, the demand packet will feature a lengthy introductory letter prepared by your attorney whereby all relevant codified laws and case law are presented in a concise fashion such that the legal ramifications for the defendant are clearly defined. Additionally, we will make mention of past successes in the court room and provide the defendant with a detailed analysis of what they can expect if they do not accept the offer to settle your case. In short, we clearly spell out to the defendant in no uncertain terms why they should settle your case rather than face us in the courtroom.
Phase 3. Settlement or Litigation. If the demand is met then the defendant will settle the case with you and the matter is resolved. If the defendants do not accept the offer to settle (which may occur for a variety of reasons), a lawsuit is filed against the trucking company and litigation commences. Truck accident litigation works thusly: The plaintiff files a lawsuit, both sides use the authority of the court to request additional evidence (under the rules of civil procedure) from the other side which they feel will help their arguments, various motions are filed in order to persuade the judge to not allow certain evidence into court, and eventually both sides have an adequate understanding of what arguments a jury will be allowed to hear (since not all evidence can be used for a variety of reasons). The case is then reviewed by a third party mediator who attempts to broker a settlement between the two parties based on the strength of their arguments. In most serious or catastrophic injury cases (and in practically all wrongful death truck accident cases), a lawsuit is filed earlier in the process since the defendant, faced with the prospect of having to pay millions of dollars in compensation, will generally refuse to entertain any reasonable settlement opportunities.
- You will likely be called to testify in a deposition.
- You may need to furnish certain documents and information.
- If the case is not resolved before trial, you will need to appear in court.
- Your Attorney
- Your attorney will draft dozens of documents and file numerous motions.
- He will also conduct numerous depositions and make a variety of appearance before the judge on your behalf for oral arguments and to get rulings on the admissibility of various types of evidence.
- Your attorney will research case law and strategize.
- Your attorney will be your spoken advocate in mediation and in trial. He will prepare and present evidence to the jury or mediator. He will cross examine all witnesses, and he will explain your position to the court. He will spend hundreds of hours on your case throughout litigation, and he will do so without you ever paying him a single dime out of pocket. Our Dallas truck accident attorney will assume all financial risk in your case because he believes in your case and in his abilities to win.
Now that you know how a case works, the following information will cover the ins and outs of truck accidents such that you can gain an adequate understanding of the many elements of an 18-wheeler accident case:
You’ll Need Legal Representation Because The Defendants Leave You No Choice
We’ve mentioned already that you’ll need competent legal representation in your big rig accident case, but why is that? The answer lies in the nature of civil court cases. Contrary to popular belief, when someone causes you to suffer harm in an accident, they do not owe you anything by default. There is a not a single law in Texas that says that a trucking company is required to compensate you for your injuries or that they are required to pay any particular amount. We are conditioned by the numerous examples we hear in the news media of an injured party being compensated and we, as a society, often mistakenly assume that such compensation is automatic or even easily attained. This could not be further from the truth.
The way that Texas’ personal injury laws work is that they allow you, the injured party, to seek compensation by petitioning the court to intervene on your behalf and to force the defendant to part ways with their assets. But think about that for a second. You are asking the court to make someone forfeit their hard-earned money. As you can imagine, the court is loathe to do this without a strong justification for doing so, thus they require that you furnish a considerable amount of proof in order to show that such a decree is necessary and equitable. Conversely, the defendant is empowered to offer evidence to the contrary such that your requests may be denied by the court, and therein lies the problem. As the court (rightly) allows the defendant the opportunity to tell their side of the story, the defendant is also afforded an opportunity to manipulate the court and downplay their negligence. With so much at stake financially, the defendants will do everything in their power to deny responsibility for your injuries simply because they can. Sadly, trucking companies look at this as just a matter of doing business and they simply can’t pass up the opportunity to try to find some way to convince a jury that you shouldn’t be compensated.
But How Exactly Can a Trucking Company Convince the Court That You Shouldn’t be Compensated?
Texas employs a doctrine of comparative fault whereby the actions of both the plaintiff and the defendant are factored into a jury’s decision to award compensation. If the jury finds that the plaintiff is partially to blame, that is to say that the plaintiff’s actions also contributed to the accident in some way, the jury will then discount the compensation that the plaintiff will receive proportionately — to a point. At the point that the jury believes that the plaintiff contributed more than 50% in causing his or her own injuries (meaning that if the jury says that the accident is at least 51% the fault of the plaintiff and 49% the fault of the defendant) then the defendant does not have to compensate the plaintiff at all.
The consequence of this is that the defendant does not have to beat the plaintiff flat-out; they simply must show that they are not entirely responsible or they simply must deflect the blame elsewhere in part, and they will save themselves a considerable amount of money. As such, trucking companies are not willing to often settle with accident victims so long as they think that there is the slightest chance that they can deflect the blame elsewhere in trial, and that mentality is precisely why you will need a Dallas 18-wheeler accident attorney in order to force them into a settlement or to inevitably litigate the case.
Consider this real-life example. Our firm was hired by the family of a man who was killed when an 18-wheeler rolled through a stop sign which intersected a highway, thereby causing the 18-wheeler’s trailer to completely block the roadway which resulted in the victim driving under the trailer and suffering fatal injuries. The cause of the accident was incredibly clear; the truck driver failed to yield the right of way and pulled out in front of the decedent’s car, and the police accident report completely verified this version of events. So clearly the trucking company knew they were caught red handed and they offered the family a huge settlement, right? Not so. Instead, the trucking company did what they normally do in these situations and they took the position that the police report was wrong, that the decedent was speeding and therefore the truck driver couldn’t adequately judge how long he had to cross the road, and that the state was actually more so to blame than anyone else involved since they erected a road sign that blocked the truck driver’s view of oncoming traffic. As such, they denied the claim and made no offer to the family. The family hired our attorneys and we painstakingly defeated the trucking company’s arguments one-by-one until they were left with no choice but to settle. The main point to take away from this example as that the facts and circumstances of this case were incredibly obvious and anyone could see that the trucking company was liable. However, the trucking company’s attorneys saw several possible avenues to exploit, and they forced our clients through litigation on the off chance that one of their defenses would pan out. If they’re willing to fight so hard to avoid compensation in a case as obvious as this, you can imagine how willing they will be to offer a fair settlement in a case where the trucking company is not so obviously at fault.
Despite These Obstacles, Our Attorneys Can Compel the Defendants to Settle
Despite the fact that trucking companies are inclined toward forcing plaintiffs into litigation, there are two ways that a settlement is possible. The first is that the trucking company, despite their desire to deny liability and litigate accordingly, will always entertain a low-ball offer. Any person can settle a case for less than the case is worth, and those who are not represented by an attorney will encounter precisely that.
The other way to obtain a settlement is to illustrate to the defendants that, based on the evidence that a jury will see, they will likely have to pay an astronomical sum of money, therefore offering the client a reasonable settlement is a better business decision since it allows the defendant the opportunity to bypass the uncertainty of trial. As you can imagine, a truck accident victim who has never stepped into a courtroom, who has no understanding of the Rules of Civil Procedure, and who does not have a track record of making juries hold defendants liable, has little to no chance of convincing the defendant to settle for an amount anywhere close to fair. In other words, the entirety of the leverage that you hold over the defendant to settle comes from your attorney’s ability to win similar cases. As such, self representation or representation by an inexperienced or under-qualified attorney will not compel the defendant to settle; the defendant will just take their chances in trial.
Not every case can be settled out of court, though most are. In some instances, there are simply too many holes in the evidence to paint a perfectly vivid picture for the jury, and the defendants will take their chances in trial irrespective of the experience and track record of your attorneys. Naturally, however, our firm is able to resolve most trucking cases out of court simply based largely on our reputation and past results.
The Reasons to File an 18-Wheeler Accident Injury Lawsuit
Utilizing a lawsuit to resolve the harm done by a truck accident serves two important purposes: permitting the injured party to recover from the financial, physical, and emotional harm caused by the wreck and to dissuade those whose negligence caused the accident from conducting themselves in that fashion ever again. In situations where egregious conduct or wanton recklessness causes you to suffer harm, a jury may force the defendant to pay additional, punitive damages to you to further dissuade such reckless behavior.
As mentioned earlier, your case can often be resolved without filing suit or litigating, and the experience and track record of your attorney weighs heavily on such an outcome since a trucking company will be more willing to settle rather than face an experienced attorney in the courtroom.
Prompt Investigation is Essential
To gather the necessary evidence to identify all of the responsible parties and prove your case after you’ve been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, a timely and thorough investigation must be conducted. Since so many different parties could have potentially contributed to the source of the accident that injured you, a diligent investigation is needed to determine all of the liable parties and their relative degree of negligence. You’re going to need proof to sway the jury in your favor, and evidence begins to disappear quickly after any wreck. Thus, you need to put your lawyer on the trail of evidence as fast as possible. For every day you hesitate to find a truck accident lawyer in Dallas with whom you are comfortable, you are doing irreparable damage to your case because the proof you need is evaporating — witnesses disappear or forget what they saw, videos get erased, and the accident scene evolves physically.
The Dallas truck accident lawyers at Grossman Law Offices have spent over 23 years mastering the art of investigating and litigating commercial vehicle accident cases. We do whatever we can to get to the bottom of the truth — sequestering and examining all the vehicles involved, taking photographs, searching for video evidence, reviewing police records, measuring the distance between skid marks and points of impact, conducting forensic tests, finding and interviewing witnesses and cataloging any evidence we find so it can be used later in court.
In all likelihood, you’ve already fallen behind the defense’s investigative efforts. In most cases, the trucking or insurance company sends their investigators to the scene of the accident as soon as the trucker reports it. The defense investigators have no concern with identifying how the accident really happened; they’re just looking for any means of deflecting the blame elsewhere. If you don’t have your attorneys on the scene conducting their own investigation, you have no way of knowing whether or not the defense tampered with the evidence or conducted its investigation honestly.
How We Can Help
If you have suffered an injury in an accident with a semi-truck in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, you need to hire a Dallas truck accident lawyer to safeguard your legal rights and help you recover the fair compensation you deserve.
From filing to resolution, our attorneys will handle every facet of your case and make sure that you are kept abreast of any developments as they arise. Contact us today at 1-855-326-0000 (toll free) for a free consultation with an attorney.