Tractor trailer, “big rig” or “18 wheeler” accidents virtually always cause serious injury or death. As a result, an experienced trial attorney will tell you that a lawsuit will typically need to be filed in order to fully develop the evidence and to find all possible causes of the accident. Through full discovery and depositions of all relevant witnesses, the operational records of the trucking company, as well as the complete history and information about the at-fault driver will be fully exposed. When litigating cases worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, every aspect of a complex injury case must be considered. To more fully illustrate the complexity of this type of case, we have listed below some of the differences between litigating tractor trailer accidents and automobile cases:
First, interstate trucking companies are governed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which publishes mandatory, strict regulations. If a tractor trailer driver violates these safety regulations, an experienced tractor trailer accident lawyer will request a jury charge on “negligence per se.” This means that if a rule is broken, the judge will instruct the jury that the trucking company can be held responsible for the harm caused.
Next, all new and many older tractor trailers have advanced computer systems onboard similar to an aircraft “black box.” Others have on-board radar and satellite tracking data that can reveal a great deal of information about an accident. Just as in plane crashes, a review of this data can show a truck’s speed, direction, whether brakes were applied, whether speed control was engaged, as well as other critical information about the truck’s operation. The best part is that this data is completely objective. Truck drivers may be killed in the crash or not be willing to give information. Some will even attempt to lie in order to protect themselves or the company. These records eliminate all doubt and must be preserved quickly to protect this vital evidence for trial.
And finally, in cases where deaths occur, the state agencies for highway safety will often conduct an in-depth investigation into an accident. However, even these studies may not answer all questions. It may be necessary to retain a collision reconstruction expert with an engineering background or other specialized skills to go back and review or even reinvestigate the accident in full. At a minimum, the driver and risk manager of the trucking company should be deposed, and an exhaustive review of all operational documents should be performed. The average car accident lawyer is simply not trained to handle these more serious cases.
Our trucking accident attorneys employ a team approach to serious injury and death cases. All of the lawyers in our firm are seasoned trial lawyers and include former insurance defense attorneys and a former Registered Nurse (RN). Together, they can consider all aspects of a serious highway crash involving large commercial trucks and the mayhem they can cause. Call us today for a private consultation about your particular case. You need answers. We can help.