Truck accidents are without a doubt the worst mishaps on the highways, often even resulting in multiple car pileups and crashes that impact innocent victims. Depending on the type of truck involved and the number of affected drivers, other dangers can exist as well such as hazardous chemical spills and fires resulting from explosions and contact with flammable liquids. The amount of damage these accidents can cause is often incalculable, and unraveling the case for each involved party can be extremely complicated. That is why it always takes an experienced and effective truck accident attorney when settling these accident claims because fault is always an issue, and there may be multiple negligent parties and extenuating circumstances associated with the crash.
Fighting the Shipping Carriers
All trucking accident cases are defended strongly by both the respondent insurance providers and the transportation company. In some instances, the truck driver will have their own insurance company as well when they own the truck and are leased on with the transportation company. There are many issues that could potentially arise when dealing with multiple negligent parties following a truck accident. Shipping companies regularly instruct the drivers to skirt on rules and regulations regarding truck safety and operational logs unless they have centralized control of the vehicle from the corporate office. Many corporate trucking companies employ this technology, but there are also many that do not because it can impact company profit margins. Drivers will skirt the laws themselves also when they can improve their personal income by keeping the truck on the road in excess of allowed operation hours for both the driver and the truck. An experienced truck accident attorney can access the respondents’ prior citation record, along with involvement in other accidents, when building a claim against a trucking company that is operating in a possibly grossly negligent manner.
Dealing with the Insurance Companies
One of the first problems an injured trucking accident victim faces is dealing with the insurance company. It is important to remember that insurance company adjusters are trained professionals who are always looking for any technical claim that could result in a lesser claim value or an outright denial of responsibility to pay benefits. This is especially true when they think they can convince the injured plaintiff to not hire a lawyer. In a situation of outright claim denial, it is always vital to have an aggressive truck accident attorney who can step and begin the legal process immediately. Denial of a claim on certain basis could actually result in an additional legal case against the company for bad faith tactics. The law is specific on insurance company responsibilities when their clients are involved in wrecks, but they will skirt the rules as well if they think they can avoid or lessen a claim. Insurance adjusters will also often use a tactic of a quick settlement to avoid dealing with an attorney, and the settlement is always well below what the claim value actually represents. Insurance adjusters are only obligated to the company bottom line and protecting the client from further litigation. The accident victim’s protection rests with their legal counsel.
Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania
Comparative negligence is the legal notion that most accidents will occur due to a number of factors and one party is not always completely at fault for the incident. Each state has its own standard for comparative negligence, and in Pennsylvania the standard is modified comparative negligence with the 51% bar for financial recovery being the rule. This means that anyone injured in an auto accident that is assigned a comparative negligence percentage of 51% or greater is barred by law from receiving any financial recovery for personal injuries resulting from the accident. An injured trucking accident claimant can be assured that this is exactly where insurance companies will defend the case by claiming the injured plaintiff was largely responsible for the crash. This point of contention is also where your Pennsylvania trucking accident attorney will work most diligently because they are professional negotiators as well. A truck accident attorney has the legal authority to investigate the accident and deliver a strong counter argument to insurance company and trucking company claims. For injured claimants who have a comparative negligence assessments below the bar, the claims will be discounted by the percentage after total damages available are calculated. The level of personal contribution is very important, even in a trucking accident case.
Taking a Case to Trial
It is very important in truck accident injury claims to retain an attorney who is willing to take a case to a full jury trial when it is apparent that one or more negligent parties was also operating with gross negligence, not to mention bad faith tactics by the insurance company. Negligence is the central issue to all accident claims, and when material case facts indicate gross negligence there is a potential for punitive damages beyond standard compensatory financial recovery. Typical compensatory damage recovery basically includes payment for medical bills, lost wages as a result of the wreck injury, and non-economic damages for pain-and-suffering, which is usually a major final negotiation point in the claim settlement. However, punitive damages can increase the value of a claim greatly when your truck accident attorney can prove gross negligence by the driver, trucking company or insurance carrier. In addition, there can also be other egregious negligent parties involved in a crash, such as a drunk driver, who can also be pursued in a trial as well. Punitive damages cannot be imposed by the court without being assigned by a sympathetic jury that wants to send a message to the industry or finds a reason to increase the claim value that may be otherwise restricted. This is also especially important for injured passengers who have zero fault rating for causing an injury related to the accident.
It is never a good decision to attempt handling a personal injury claim stemming from a truck accident. The cases are complicated, especially with loss of consortium claims may also be applied. It is absolutely essential to retain an experienced, effective, and aggressive Pennsylvania truck accident attorney who understands the gravity of the claim and the fact that it may take several legal actions to make the injured victim financially whole following the fact. Always get a solid reputable truck accident attorney that will fight for full compensation in every legal avenue available.