Attorney Michael Grossman explains how his firm has been helping injured truck drivers for 25 years
While many injury law firms portray truck drivers in a negative light, linking them to all kinds of evil on our highways, in our experience the vast majority of truck drivers are skilled professionals who make a living doing a tough job that makes the American lifestyle possible. Despite the very real danger posed by unfit truck drivers, most truckers are some of the most courteous, careful drivers on our roads.
These drivers are far more likely to be the victim of an accident than the perpetrators and when they are injured, or even killed, Grossman Law Offices does its best to make sure they get all of the compensation for their injuries that they, or their families, are entitled to under the law.
While Grossman Law Offices never has, and never will, defend a trucking company who has injured someone, we will absolutely defend the legal rights of individual truckers who have been injured in an accident. In fact, we have represented and successfully litigated on behalf of literally dozens of truck drivers who are, themselves, injury victims. The following are just some of the services we can provide for you if you are an injured semi-truck driver.
Questions answered on this page:
- What are the different types of accidents, which could result in an injury claim for a truck driver?
- What types of compensation are available to injured truck drivers?
- How do truck accidents where the driver is injured differ from other accidents?
- Why do you need an experienced truck accident attorney to pursue your claims?
How we help injured truck drivers involved in accidents.
Most truck drivers probably feel that when they are hit by a passenger car, the other driver's insurance picks up the tab for any medical bills and lost wages. For smaller accidents, this belief may apply, although it is still best consult with an accident attorney in those circumstances. However, when a driver sustains significant injuries, which require extensive medical treatment and also result in significant lost wages, the $30,000 in liability protection that most non-commericial motorists carry just won't cut it. If this scenario describes you, then you'll need an attorney to flesh out other sources of compensation.
There are also several different scenarios where the liability for an accident may not lie wholly with the passenger car who caused the accident. They include:
- Truck drivers injured by drunk drivers- In many states around the country, including Texas, there are dram shop laws, which hold bars financially accountable when they engage in unsafe alcohol serving practices. What these laws allow you to do is pursue a claim against the bar that over-served the drunk driver that hit you. Given the serious injuries that often result from alcohol-related accidents, the injuries people sustain often exceed the limits of a regular car insurance policy. By including an irresponsible bar in any litigation, not only are they punished for their dangerous behavior, but it can increase the pool of money available to make you whole.
- Truck drivers injured as the result of manufacturing defects in their 18-wheeler- People assume that in any collision between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck, the person in the passenger vehicle is in serious trouble and the truck driver generally walks away unharmed. But sometimes truckers take the worst of it, and, often times, this is due to the fact that big rigs can be rather poorly designed. When this happens and people are harmed, the manufacturers are open to potential products liability claims. It makes sense when you think about it. In fact, we represented a deceased truck driver's family in a case a few years ago where a truck driver was killed because of faulty safety equipment after being struck by a Chevy Suburban. The accident was caused by the Suburban driver, who survived the wreck, but it was the faulty equipment that was reason that, instead of merely being injured, the truck driver was killed. In that instance we were able to hold the manufacturer liable and provide just compensation for the deceased trucker's family.
- Truck drivers who have their own UIM policies- Uninsured Motorist Policies (UIMs) provide coverage for a truck driver when they are in an accident with a driver who does not have insurance, or when that insurance is not enough to cover the cost of the trucker's damages. Since commercial trucks cost far more than typical passenger vehicles, many truck drivers carry UIM protection to make sure they they aren't put out of business by another driver's negligence. While they are an invaluable tool to protect your assets, UIM policies create situations where you insurance company is working against you, and for the person who injured you, because you're the one who is going to potentially cost them money. In some cases they will even go so far as to hire a criminal defense attorney for the driver who hit you, or attempt to shift blame for the accident to you, all in a bid to not pay out on your policy. An experienced truck accident attorney can put a stop to those shenanigans and make them honor their contract with you.
- Truck drivers who were injured because their trucking company improperly maintained their truck- In our 25 years litigating truck accident cases we have come across countless examples of truck drivers who were killed or injured because their own company negligently maintained their vehicle. While the law says that truckers cannot be fired for refusing to drive vehicles they feel are unsafe, financial pressures and pressure from a trucker's employer can sometimes prove too much. In addition, there are plenty of mechanical issues, which cannot be discovered by a driver's inspection, which nevertheless should have been taken care of as part of any responsible maintenance program. Of course, the only way to access trucking company maintenance logs and prove this was the case is through litigation with the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney.
While accidents where truck drivers are injured by passenger cars seem like they are pretty clear and straightforward, it should be pretty apparent that such cases can be have both legal and technical complexities that require expert help.
We Help Truck Drivers Injured By Co-Drivers
If you are injured by your co-driver while in the passenger seat or in a sleeper birth, you might be surprised with the speed that your company tries to get you signed up for workers' compensation, or offers you some sort of assistance if they are a non-subscriber. This is because according to federal regulation, if you are not on the clock, you are not an employee. This means that legally, you should be compensated just like any other motorist or pedestrian, not like an employee. Since the potential liability of a company goes up significantly when you fall outside the workers' compensation system, companies will sometimes push you into that system, "so you're taken care of," when all they are really doing is covering their own butts. Or to put it a different way, if you're not on the clock, you can sue the employer if your co-driver hurts you. If you are on the clock, then your only option is to file a workers' comp claim, which pays far less than a lawsuit. And your employer definitely wants you to pursue a workers' compensation case instead of a lawsuit.
We also help truck drivers who have been injured in an accident with another commercial vehicle.
As we mentioned, most truck drivers are very responsible and drive safely. Sadly, a significant number are incredibly dangerous drivers, and the group most vulnerable to their misconduct are fellow truckers. While commercial trucks may have greater survivabilty when they are in accidents with passenger vehicles, accidents involving two or more commercial trucks are significantly more dangerous for the truck drivers.
While your employer may be interested in recovering the property and cargo damage in a lawsuit, they are never going to be as interested in making sure that your injury claims are pursued with the same vigor. Even if they did, ultimately the injury claim is yours, not theirs. That means that you need to do what is best for you and your family, which means retaining your own legal representation, someone who answers to you, not your employer, because when you're the one who is injured by another trucking company, legally you are no different from someone in a passenger car who is injured by that company. Given the large insurance that trucking companies carry, they will fight you every step of the way to keep from paying out. Luckily, there are experienced truck accident attorneys, like the folks at Grossman Law Offices who will pursue your claim to the fullest.
In fact, we are currently representing the family of a truck driver who was killed in Oklahoma when another truck driver blew through a stop sign. That's not all, we also represent the family of a man who was killed in Illinois when another truck unlawfully blocked the roadway, giving our client no time to take evasive action, which ultimately cost our client his life, after he hit the other truck, resulting in a deadly fire. We're no stranger to the trucking industry and the particular needs of truck drivers who have been injured, or of the surviving families of driver who has been wrongfully killed.
How we help truckers injured in single-vehicle accidents.
There is a common misconception that single-vehicle accidents are always the driver's fault. Police investigations into these accidents are not designed to figure out what actually happened, rather just to determine that no crime was committed. As you may have noticed mechanical failures and negligently maintained trucks are often to blame for single truck accidents.
Sadly, many of these kinds of accidents result in the truck driver's death. This is made more tragic, since the truck driver is often the best witness to the mechanical failure. In these circumstances without the investigative resources of an experienced truck accident law firm, with our access to accident forensic analysts, expert engineers, and years of experience with every kind of truck accident, it can be very difficult to prove that mechanical failure was to blame for a particular accident. However, with those resources, a grieving family can get more answers than what would be found in a simple police report.
In some instances, the mechanical neglect of a truck is so severe that it rises to the level of gross negligence, that is something when the trucking companies failure to maintain a vehicle goes so far beyond ignoring their normal duty to maintain a vehicle that it shocks the senses. A rough test for gross negligence is after you here the story of how poorly maintained a truck was, that a company insisted the driver operate, does it make you gasp?
Compensation Available to Injured Truck Drivers
Some of the common types of damages that a truck driver can recover include:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Wages
- Pain and Suffering
- Loss of Earnings Capacity
- Mental Anguish
- Punitive Damages (Gross negligence cases only)
Lost wages are a particular concern to truck drivers, since many truck drivers are injured in the course and scope of their employment, they are eligible for workers compensation. This can lull some drivers into a false sense of security and waste time that is precious when it comes to filing a personal injury claim. Many people fail to realize how paltry workers compensation benefits can be. Generally, they are based on a certain percentage of the average income in a state, or an employees income, whichever is lower. This means that if you are making more than the state average income, as many truckers do, your baseline will be the average income of all workers in your state. So before they even figure out what percentage you are owed in workers compensation, you have already lost money. If you make less than the average worker, then you are still dealing with a relatively low salary, from which another big chunk is deducted.
The point is that if you are like most families, you cannot afford to have a 30% or 40%, or in more extreme cases a 70% or 80%, drop in your income. Lost wages are a key component in any injury claim. Unlike worker's comp, your injury claim is the only way you can actually recover 100% of your lost income. That is why enlisting the services of a skilled truck accident attorney, as soon as possible, is crucial.
Under Texas Law, and similar laws in other states, two other types of damages that generally would only apply in the event of the wrongful death of a truck driver are loss of companionship and society and loss of inheritance. Loss of companionship and society is pretty much exactly how it sounds. This differs from mental anguish in that the law recognizes a special category of mental anguish that arises from the loss of a parent, child, or spouse.
Children can also pursue loss of inheritance damages. Usually, if we work all of our lives, most of us will set a little something aside to leave to their children. Loss of inheritance is an attempt to allow children to be compensated for what a parent would have left them in the course of a normal lifespan, had they not suffered a premature wrongful death.
Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
If you're an injured truck driver, or the relative of a truck driver who was killed in an accident, the complexities of trucking law make it virtually impossible for a non-lawyer to successfully investigate and pursue a successful injury or wrongful death claim on your own. That is why the decision to enlist the help of a team of dedicated professionals, as well as the choice of professional are so important.
The law affords many tool to injured truck drivers and their families. Our 25 years of experience, representing dozens of truck drivers, and being involved in hundreds of other truck accident cases are not boasts, but a source of great pride in our law firm. Behind each of those cases is a trucker and a family who, although they went through some tough times after an accident, were afforded everything they were entitled to under the law to help them recover from their tragedy.
If you are a truck driver and have questions about your truck accident case, give us a call at (855) 326-000 (toll free). We are ready to help you and we answer the phones 24/7.
If you would like more information about truck accident cases, please check out the following:
- Accidents Where a Trucker Was Injured by a Co-Driver
- Who is at Fault in a Single Vehicle Truck Accident?
- How to Prove Loses in a Truck Accident Case
- Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Accidents