Truck Accident Lawyers in Birmingham
If you’ve been injured in a collision with a large truck in the Birmingham area, you should know that you have legal options that can greatly ease the financial losses you are facing. Your injuries and personal damages are likely significant since an automobile is no match for a mammoth tractor-trailer carrying tens of thousands of pounds of cargo. Truck accident cases can quickly become complicated and should not be taken on alone. With Norris Injury Lawyers’ team of personal injury attorneys, you don’t have to fight your case by yourself; we’re here to represent your interests and ensure that you don’t get lowballed by the insurance company.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident
When it comes to proving fault in a truck accident, Alabama follows an arcane theory of negligence called “contributory negligence.” The basic premise behind this legal theory is that if you are involved in an accident with a tractor trailer, you are barred from recovering any damages at all if you are proven to be even the slightest bit at fault in your accident. It doesn’t matter that the truck driver swerved into your lane without signaling, giving you no time to swerve and avoid the accident; if you were driving over the speed limit or otherwise driving in a way that could attribute fault to the accident, you will be unable to recover compensation for your injuries, no matter how severe. It’s the job of your personal injury attorney, then, to prove that you were completely blameless in your accident.
Once your attorney has proven that you were innocent in your wreck, he or she must prove that the truck driver was acting negligently. Negligence consists of four elements, all of which must be met in order for a personal injury lawsuit to be successful. Your attorney must prove that:
- The truck driver maintained a duty to you to drive in a safe manner;
- The truck driver breached that duty by breaking a traffic law or otherwise acting unsafely;
- The breach of duty caused your accident; and
- The accident caused damages to you (usually in the form of physical injuries).
How Truck Accidents Differ from the Average Car Accident
In contrast to a typical car accident involving passenger vehicles, truck accident claims consist of several extra moving parts. These additional factors can make truck accident litigation a complicated and confusing area of law.
In an ordinary car accident case, there is only one person who would be a likely defendant–the at-fault driver who caused the accident. With truck accident cases, on the other hand, a person who is injured may have several different enteties that he or she can pursue for damages. These include:
- The truck driver: it goes without saying that if the truck driver acted negligently while operating the vehicle and caused your accident, he or she can be held liable for your injuries.
- The company who employs the driver: if the driver of the truck was at fault for your accident, his or her employer may be liable for your injuries under the theory of “respondeat superior.” This Latin phrase simply means that an employer can be held liable for the negligence of its employees.
- The company who maintained the vehicle: if your truck accident was caused by a faulty part on the truck, such as brakes that were installed improperly, the shop which performed maintenance on the truck can also be held liable for your injuries.
- The owner of the truck: if the truck which was involved in your accident was owned by someone other than the truck driver or the employer of the trucker, the owner of the vehicle may also be found to be liable for injuries resulting from your accident.
While all drivers are vested with a duty to drive safely on the road, truckers are subject to additional federal regulations which must be followed down to the letter. These regulations dictate how often a truck driver must maintain their vehicle, what a truck driver must check on the truck before driving, and how long a trucker can drive without stopping to rest. Any violation of these regulations can show negligence on the part of the truck driver.
Common Insurance Tactics to be on the Lookout For
When it comes to insurance companies, every truck accident victim should be wary. Although insurance companies have their own individual plan of attack when it comes to those who are injured in an accident, several tactics remain tried and true.
Calling Immediately After Your Accident
Following your accident, one of the first phone calls you will receive is from an insurance company. The representative that you speak with will likely act like it is their top priority to make sure that you are safe and sound after your accident. No matter how nice the person you speak with may sound, don’t be lured into this trap. The representatives that you speak to from the insurance company are trained to ease you into a false sense of security in order to get you to open up about your accident. While they may sound like they have your best interest in mind, these representatives work for an insurance company whose main interest is to protect its bottom line and pay out as little as possible. That’s why when it comes to phone calls with an insurance rep, it’s important to watch what you say–you can almost guarantee that your calls are being recorded, and the insurance company will try to twist every word you say to use your own words against you.
Offering a Settlement Quickly
After you have been involved in a truck accident, you may be surprised at how quickly an insurance company offers you a settlement for your injuries. Insurance agencies do this for several reasons.
First, after an accident, you are probably still shaken up and not thinking straight. The quicker that an insurance company offers a settlement, the better the likelihood that it catches an accident victim off guard. Shortly after your accident, a settlement offered by the insurance company may sound like a good deal.
Second, some injuries resulting from truck accidents can have a delayed onset, meaning the injury can take days, weeks, or even months to surface. The sooner that an insurance company calls you with a settlement offer, the greater the chance that they can catch you before you are even aware of the full extent of your damages. If you accept this settlement offer and then begin to experience headaches or back pain days or weeks later, there is no going back to amend the settlement amount to compensate for these injuries.
Asking You to Sign a Mountain of Paperwork
After your accident, the insurance company will likely mail or email you a load of documents to sign. No matter how innocent these documents may seem, you should never sign a document provided by an insurance company without a personal injury attorney reviewing the document first. Insurance companies are notorious for sneaking in documents which help no one but themselves. Without the careful eye of an attorney who is trained to spot these documents, you could find yourself signing documents that:
- Give the insurance company unlimited access to your medical records–even those before your accident;
- Make you use the insurance company’s medical expert to assess the severity of your injuries (and if the expert is hired by the insurance company, you can bet your bottom dollar that his results are skewed in the insurance company’s favor); and
- Waive innumerable rights and remedies that you might otherwise have in a personal injury lawsuit.
As a rule of thumb, you should always assume that if the insurance company is asking for your signature on a document, it’s for their own best interest, not yours.
Suffering After a Truck Accident? We’re Here to Help
If you find yourself facing the devastating aftermath of a truck accident in Birmingham or a surrounding area, it’s critically important to enlist the help of a team of attorneys who knows the laws surrounding truck accidents like the back of their hand. Lawsuits stemming from truck accidents aren’t something that should be tackled alone; these cases can involve multiple parties and can be extremely complicated. The attorneys at Norris Injury Lawyers are dedicated to providing quality representation and fighting diligently on your behalf so that you can focus on what’s most important after a truck accident–healing. To take the next step toward securing top-notch representation, fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 477-7510 today. Don’t wait until it’s too late–we’re standing by to stand up for you.