Protecting Your Rights in Truck Accidents
Trucking accidents are usually very serious matters. “Transfer” or tractor-trailer trucks are large, very heavy and usually moving fast on impact. When a large truck hits a car at high speed, the results are horrific and the car’s occupants are often terribly injured or killed. We have been representing victims of trucking negligence for a number of years. In these cases, we believe that the victim is best served by hiring a lawyer experienced in truck accidents quickly because trucking accidents are usually very serious and vital evidence from the accident scene or the trucking company itself can be lost by delay.
Simply put this question is: “Whose fault caused the accident?” Since truck accidents often happen at night or on interstates, often there are no available witnesses to testify as to how the accident happened. Since the investigating police officer’s opinion on fault is usually inadmissible, your attorney must prove fault by use of expert witnesses and by photographs of the scene and the cars (See Expert Issues below). We can help you with preserving evidence if we are hired.
In North Carolina, this issue is complicated as it is one of the few states that still adheres to the concept of Contributory Negligence. This means that if the injured party was at fault in causing his injuries, to any degree, he may not recover for his injuries even though the accident was caused primarily by the fault of the other party. Doctrines such as the Defendant’s Gross Negligence and Last Clear Chance may still allow the victim to recover but it can be difficult.
Like a car accident, a truck accident can cause all types of losses and damages and they are usually large and fundamental: medical bills, lost wages, death, emotional suffering, temporary or permanent disability, impairment, loss of earnings, loss of use of your car and other losses as well. Also, if you are severely injured or killed by the accident, your spouse and children may suffer from your inability to continue to provide for them.
Trucking companies usually have large insurance policies that injured individuals can access. You need attorneys experienced in dealing with insurance companies to assure you get fair and full compensation. Sometimes, though rarely, the trucker or trucking company may not have liability insurance. In those situations, you need attorneys who know how to access other types of insurance such as Underinsured Insurance Coverage and even the assets of the at-fault party and the trucking company if necessary to cover your damages and costs.
In almost all cases, the doctors and other heath care professionals that treat you will be called as medical experts to prove the extent of your injuries. The insurance company may call experts to try to disprove your injuries. In most trucking accident cases, engineering experts will be needed to prove how the accident happened and that the accident was solely the fault of the trucker and/or the trucking company. In some instances, this may be done by sophisticated accident computer reconstruction, in others, by actual “recreations” of the accident. Such reconstructions/recreations are used to show fault or how the injury actually occurred. Sometimes accounting experts will be needed to show losses of the victim’s income and the present value of that loss. Accounting experts are also used to show the ability of the trucking company to pay for your losses and damages. You need attorneys who can determine when such experts are needed and how to best use them in negotiations with the insurance company and/or at trial.
Statute of Limitations:
The law requires that you bring your lawsuit against the at-fault driver within a certain time after the date of the accident. If you do not, your right to recover damages are forever lost.
In North Carolina, if you do not commence your lawsuit against the at-fault driver within 3 years of the date of the accident, you will be forever barred and will not be able to recover from the at-fault party or their insurance company. In North Carolina, if a trucking accident causes the death of a loved one, you have only two years from the date of their death to file the action. Whether your accident happened in Raleigh, Durham, Charlotte, Fayetteville or elsewhere in North Carolina, you should speak to a trucking accident attorney early to learn your rights.
In South Carolina, if you do not commence your lawsuit against the at-fault driver within 3 years of the date of the accident, you will be forever barred and will not be able to recover from the at-fault party or their insurance company.
In Tennessee, if you do not commence your lawsuit against the at-fault driver within one year of the date of the accident, you will be forever barred and will not be able to recover from the at-fault party or their insurance company for your personal injuries. If you do not commence the lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident, you will not be able to recover for damages to your vehicle.
At Merritt Webb, we usually handle these kinds of cases by contingency fees. That means we do not get paid a fee unless we obtain money for you through settlement with the insurance company or judgment rendered by a jury. If we do recover something for you, we get an agreed-upon percentage of the total recovery received, prior to the subtraction of any costs or expenses. Any costs or expenses will be subtracted from your share of any amount recovered in the lawsuit. We think this is the fairest way to represent individuals who have been injured.
Costs and Expenses:
Bringing such a claim against a large, well-financed trucking company can be very expensive for the injured party. Experts must be hired and depositions taken. Such costs can often run from $10,000 to $50,000 dollars. In many cases, Merritt Webb may be willing to pay these costs for the victim pending repayment from settlement with or judgment against the trucking company and its insurance company.
Our lawyers at Merritt Webb are anxious to aggressively represent your interests and make sure you receive just compensation for your injuries and losses. If you need an attorney, call us at 1.800.556.8404.
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