Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accidents
Clear answers from our compassionate accident attorneys
Truck accidents can leave victims reeling, even more so than accidents involving passenger cars. Dealing with the trucking company and its insurance carrier isn’t easy. Neither is getting the medical care you need. If you’ve been seriously injured, you may not be able to work and have no way of paying your bills. This can also have an effect on your family, and you may not be able to see a way out.
For over four decades, Jacksonville residents have trusted the truck accident lawyers at The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic to help them when they’re most in need. If you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, here’s what you need to know.
- If I’ve been hurt in a truck accident, what should I do?
- I think the truck driver was asleep at the wheel. Do I have a case?
- Can I sue the trucking company?
- What if the trucking company is out of state?
- Should I answer questions from the trucking company or their insurance carrier?
- How long will my case take to resolve? Will I have to go to court?
- What is the average settlement for a semi-truck accident?
- Who is liable in a truck accident?
These questions and answers should give you a general idea of how to approach a claim resulting from a truck accident. However, we strongly encourage you to contact us to discuss the specific circumstances and legal implications of your accident. Every accident is unique, and truck accidents give rise to uniquely complicated legal cases. The sooner you have an experienced attorney on your side, the better. Call 904-358-8881 for your free consultation.
If I’ve been hurt in a truck accident, what should I do?
As with any accident, your top priority is to make sure the scene is safe. Contact emergency services and assist if you are trained and able to do so. When the police come to investigate the accident, cooperate with the investigating officer, and make sure you get his or her name and badge number.
Get the truck driver’s name and license plate as well as the trucking company’s name, address and phone number. You’ll also need contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Keep your comments at the scene brief and don’t say anything that could be construed as admitting fault for the accident. Take note of anything the truck driver says.
Seek medical help right away. It’s quite common for truck accidents to cause injuries such as internal bleeding or traumatic brain injury, which may have delayed-onset symptoms. The sooner you see a doctor, the better. Document every medical visit and comply with all of your doctor’s instructions.
Finally, contact The Law Firm of Pajcic & Pajcic as soon as possible, before speaking to the trucking company or their insurance company. You need an experienced attorney on your side to protect your legal rights.
I think the truck driver was asleep at the wheel. Do I have a case?
Very likely. Falling asleep at the wheel is a common – and completely unacceptable – cause of truck accidents because drivers are under so much pressure to make unreasonable delivery schedules. However, to build a strong legal case, we have to prove it.
That means our attorneys will take immediate action to secure the truck’s hours of service (HOS) log, which may help us prove that the trucker exceeded limits on service hours or worked through mandatory breaks. Because these logs are sometimes falsified or doctored, we’ll review the truck’s GPS data to see whether there are any inconsistencies. We’ll also take pictures of the accident scene – drivers who fall asleep at the wheel usually don’t hit the brakes, which means no skid marks – interview witnesses, and review the driver’s own statements for any evidence showing that he or she was asleep at the wheel.
Can I sue the trucking company?
In general, you can, but it depends on the specifics of the situation. If the truck driver is a direct employee of the trucking company, then the company can be held vicariously liable for his or her actions on the job – this is called respondeat superior in legal circles. However, if the truck driver is an independent contractor, this doctrine may or may not apply, depending on the relationship between the driver and the company.
Regardless of whether vicarious liability applies, however, the trucking company can be held directly liable for your injuries if we can show that the company’s own actions contributed to the accident. For instance, we may be able to find hiring or supervision records showing that the company failed to conduct a background check or knowingly retained a driver with a history of drunk or reckless driving. Or our investigation may show that the trucking company put pressure on the driver to exceed hours of service (HOS) regulations and work through mandatory rest breaks.
What if the trucking company is out of state?
This is a common issue with truck accidents, as out-of-state trucking companies think they can take advantage of Florida motorists by simply refusing to return your calls. That’s why it’s particularly important to retain a law firm with experience and resources to handle your case. Although Pajcic & Pajcic is based in Jacksonville and practices law primarily in Florida and southern Georgia, we have handled cases all over the country. We know how to get even out-of-state trucking companies to come to the negotiating table and pay fair compensation to victims.
Should I answer questions from the trucking company or their insurance carrier?
Not without talking to an attorney first. No matter how friendly they may seem, the trucking company and their insurance company are not on your side. To them, your accident represents exposure to their bottom line, and their priority is to limit that exposure. Any information you provide to them will be used for that purpose.
The best practice is to contact our law firm as soon as possible. Once you hire us to represent you, we will contact the trucking company and their insurance carrier or carriers to notify them that you have retained an attorney. From that point forward, our office will handle any further communication, protecting your legal rights while you focus on getting better.
How long will my case take to resolve? Will I have to go to court?
It varies, but we’ve seen many truck accident cases take years to resolve. The trucking companies’ lawyers will do everything in their power to reduce, deny or delay your claim, hoping that you will accept a smaller settlement in order to close out the case. When there are multiple defendants involved – and in truck accident cases, that’s usually the case – litigation can take a very long time.
We know how difficult it is for someone who is recovering from an injury to get through a long legal battle. You can rest assured that the experienced attorneys at Pajcic & Pajcic will be there for you every step of the way.
What is the average settlement for a semi-truck accident?
Settlements tend to be higher in cases involving truck accidents compared to cases involving car accidents, as injuries are often more severe and more insurance coverage is usually available. But it’s difficult to come up with an average settlement amount as each case is different. There are many different factors that can affect the outcome, including injury type and severity and liability limits.
Settlement amounts in a semi-truck accident case can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Pajcic & Pajcic’s case results include numerous seven- and eight-figure recoveries for truck accident victims. An attorney can review the details of your accident and give you a better idea of how much you could expect to recover in a settlement.