San Antonio 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys.
Though it may seem entirely obvious that you were blameless in your San Antonio Truck Accident, winning full compensation for your losses is neither guaranteed nor an automatic process. By law, the defendant or defendants in your case owe you nothing at the start. In short, to recover compensation for your losses, you have to fight for what your rights.
The fact is, unrepresented big rig accident victims, that is to say, victims who choose to represent themselves, almost never receive the entire compensation that their cases merit. Often, an experienced San Antonio Truck Accident Attorney can be the key to ensure you recover thousands or even millions of dollars for your injuries, rather than recovering nothing at all.
Despite the fact that receiving compensation for your losses in the aftermath of a San Antonio 18-wheeler accident isn’t automatic, it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Understanding your rights and making sure you have an experienced personal injury attorney for San Antonio at your side, you’ll greatly increase your chance of winning your case and holding the blameworthy defendants accountable for their misdeeds. In the information that follows, we’ll go over the basics of 18-wheeler accident law to help you understand your rights.
This article is meant to explain just the fundamentals of truck accident law. To learn more about the precise legal implications of your exact situation. call us, we’ll gladly answer your questions about tractor trailer accident law and give you a free consultation.The Importance of Litigation
Filing a claim or bringing a lawsuit against a defendant or against multiple defendants serves two crucial purposes. First, undertaking these actions will let you recover financially for the losses you’ve suffered due to your San Antonio 18-wheeler accident. The law mandates that people injured in big rig accidents are not automatically entitled to receive even a single penny for their losses. That means the scales of justice are tilted in favor of the blameworthy parties, the defendants, at the start. To win, you will have to tilt those scales in your favor. An experienced Truck Accident Attorney can help you do this. The defendant has no automatic obligation to pay you anything at all, and you can expect that you will have to fight for the full compensation to which you’re entitled.
Some of your losses, of course, were probably emotional and physical, and some of them probably financial. 18-wheeler accident victims typically confront high repair costs, high medical bills, and the financial strain of being unable to return to work in the aftermath of their tractor trailer accident. Receiving full compensation from the blameworthy parties who caused your injuries eases the financial pressures that hit you due to your collision and let you and your family get back on your feet again.
Furthermore, filing a lawsuit lets you punish the people and organizations at fault for causing your 18-wheeler accident. Punishing the defendant or defendants mean they will think twice before erring in the same ways in the future and putting more people at risk.The Two Ways to Win
Most San Antonio Truck Accident cases present two different ways to win compensation for your injuries. Most big rig cases settle out of court when the plaintiff and the defendant or defendants arrive at an agreement (that is, a settlement) without the intervention of a judge or a jury. Sometimes, however, the parties are unable to reach an agreement, and a plaintiff will have to win at trial in order to receive damages.Settlements
In a settlement, a defendant offers a plaintiff an amount of money as compensation for his injuries, despite the absence of a judge’s order that money must be given. As a trade, the plaintiff agrees not to file a lawsuit for more money in the future. Agreeing to a fair settlement offer helps a plaintiff because it lets them receive money quickly without the stress of waiting for a courtroom and randomly selected jurors to decide the fate of the compensation to which he’s rightfully due.
Because defendants recognize they face no legal requirement to pay you money, it can be difficult to get a fair settlement offer out of them without an experienced San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorney helping you. Having an experienced lawyer looking after your case will clearly signal to the defendants that if they don’t settle with you, they risk losing big in the courtroom. If you are able to make a defendant nervous about losing in court, he will be much more willing to offer you a fair amount for your injuries outside the courtroom. The experienced San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys of our firm know just how to pressure defendants to settle your case. We have won settlements and verdicts against virtually every major insurer in the nation. Insurance companies know our name and our reputation. That’s way they are typically eager to settle with our clients rather than lose to our lawyers in the courtroom.
Be very careful about bad settlement offers. Before you have hired an 18-wheeler Accident Attorney, you might receive a bad settlement offer. After all, defendants understand that if you accept such an offer, you will not be able to hire an attorney in the future to sue them for additional money. They are also aware that in the aftermath of a tractor trailer accident, accident victims are short on cash and faced with repair bills, medical bills, and the high stress of lost wages. That’s why it’s common for defendants to offer victims fast cash, aiming to get them to accept the offer and surrender their legal right to pursue them for full compensation. In other words, offers you will be presented with before hiring an experienced 18-wheeler Accident Attorney will probably not be fair, and they’re pretty much always binding if you agree to them. If you’re looking at accepting a settlement from an insurance company, make sure you let an experienced San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorney look over it before you agree to the offer. Out lawyers at our firm can tell you the true value of your case, and whether you are entitled to more money than the defendants are putting on the table for you.Trials
Some cases don’t settle out of court, for any number of reasons. Therefore, these cases typically need to go to trial for you to win full compensation. Because commercial vehicle accident victims have the burden of proof in a lawsuit, you’ll face a challenging task at your trial. To win, you have to present evidence for four different elements of your 18-wheeler accident claim. These elements are duty, breach, causation, and damages.
Proving duty means you have to show that the defendant in your lawsuit owed you the duty to act with enough caution to keep you from getting harmed. Proving duty is often a straightforward task since most people owe each other the duty to behave as a reasonable person would act so as not to harm others. This duty of care might involve refraining from doing unreasonably dangerous things, or it might involve taking affirmative precautions to prevent others from being harmed.
Second, you have to show the defendant’s behavior was a breach of the owed duty of care. If the “reasonable person” duty of care applies in your case, for example, proving breach involves demonstrating that the defendant did something a reasonable person would have refrained from doing. To prove breach, you need to bring evidence into the courtroom that shows the jurors exactly what the defendant in your lawsuit did or failed to do. The jurors will think about all of the circumstances surrounding your big rig accident and will decide whether or not the defendant’s actions counted as a breach of the relevant duty of care.
Third, you have to prove causation. It isn’t sufficient just to show that the defendant breached the duty of care you were owed; you must continue by proving the defendant’s breach of the care caused you injuries. In other words, you must prove the breach and your injuries were definitely linked. This requires extensive evidence. Many parties play a role in getting a commercial vehicle ready to undertake a haul, and any one of these multiple parties might have made a mistake that contributed to your crash. Because so many individuals or organizations could potentially be at fault, defendants named in the lawsuit will frequently try to shift blame for the big rig wreck onto someone else, or even onto you. Without enough evidence that pins the blame on the defendant, your lawsuit will fail.
Fourth and finally, you have to prove damages. The word “damages” means the money you are to collect from the defendant if you successfully prove the above three elements of your 18-wheeler accident claim. Damages are able to compensate plaintiffs for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical pills, loss of earning capacity, repair bills, and other types of losses they’ve suffered due to the 18-wheeler accident. To receive damages, you have to not only calculate how much you are owed, but you must bring evidence to court to show your calculation of damages is reasonable and supported by the evidence. It’s probable that the defendant in your case will also calculate their own figure for the damages, a number that’s sure to be smaller than yours. It takes powerful evidence to convince a jury that you’re not looking for a handout and the defendant is just trying to escape legal responsibility.
Calculating damages is usually a complex task. If your medical treatment is ongoing, for instance, it can be difficult to figure out by yourself an estimation for how much your bills will ultimate cost. Placing a price tag on ambiguous losses such as pain and suffering can be really challenging for non-lawyers, and reasoning out the damage amounts for loss of earning capacity can be very intricate once you start thinking about the time value of money and other factors such as potential raises. The experienced San Antonio personal injury attorneys at our firm understand what it takes to calculate the damages for all kinds of losses. We’ve been figuring out damages for twenty years and counting. We can tell you what a jury is probably going to decide about the value of your case.
Whether your claim winds up settled out of court or decided upon in the courtroom, our San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys are here to help. We know how to pressure defendants on behalf of our clients who need fair settlements, and we know how to build a bullet-proof trail strategy for winning your claim in the courtroom.
Any litigation, early on, requires you to identify which defendants are blameworthy and liable in your case. This is a particularly complex task since, as mentioned above, the work of multiple parties goes into getting a commercial vehicle ready to make a delivery. Any one of these individuals or organizations, or a combination of them, can make a mistake behind the scenes that wound up leading to the wreck. If more than one individual or organization caused your collision, all of them can be named as defendants in your lawsuit.
In 18-wheeler accident cases, there are certain parties that are typically to blame for the errors that lead to wrecks. These parties are truck drivers, trucking companies, cargo-loading companies, and route-planning companies. In the following section, we’ll talk about the role these parties frequently play in causing tractor trailer accidents.TruckersDid You Know?
Truck drivers are commonly among the defense parties most directly liable for causing an 18-wheeler accident. It’s not uncommon for a truck driver to make a mistake on the roadway. They speed recklessly, roll through stop signs, make illegal turns, and make other careless driving mistakes that put others in harm’s way. Also, truck drivers might skip their mandatory rest breaks to meet unrealistic delivery schedules. Skipping rest breaks means truckers are more likely to fall asleep behind the wheel and get involved in a wreck. No matter whether the truck driver in your San Antonio 18-wheeler accident made a careless mistake or prioritized his deliver schedule above your safety, a reckless truck driver can be named as a defendant in your lawsuit.Trucking Companies
Typically, more parties than the truck driver are liable for a semi truck accident. Most of the time, if you can sue the truck driver, you can also sue the trucking company that owns the vehicle. Two legal theories make this a possibility. First, you can frequently hold the trucking company responsible for your San Antonio wreck under the theory of direct liability. A trucking company is directly liable for your injuries when they do something negligent themselves, such as failing to maintain the vehicle’s brakes in such a way that the faulty brakes led to the accident and your injuries. In that case, you may be able to hold the trucking directly liable for their negligence.
In other scenarios, the trucking company might not have done anything wrong, and it might seem the trucker is the only liable party. But in these situations, the trucking company can typically still be held to account under vicarious (indirect) liability due to the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. This fancy-sounding Latin phrase basically means one thing: an employer is responsible for its employees’ on-the-clock actions, even when the employer didn’t do anything wrong itself. In short, in an 18-wheeler accident case, whenever you can sue the trucker, you can also sue his employing trucking company.Manufacturers
In some situations, manufacturers cause 18-wheeler accidents by building products with manufacturing flaws or design defects. After all, big rigs are made up of many, many components, and these components have to function together for the semi truck to operate safely. If a tractor trailer’s tires or cargo straps are unsafe and flawed, for instance, the tractor trailer can pose a danger to other motorists on the roadway. If a manufacturer’s actions have led to a defective part, the manufacturer can be held liable and be named as a defendant for their role in causing your injuries.Companies that Load Trucks
In some scenarios, the components of the truck might not make the semi truck unsafe, but rather the loading of the truck might make it dangerous. For most 18-wheelers, the law mandates that they can’t be loaded with over 80,000 pounds; nevertheless, many companies try to overload trailers in an effort to save the expense of extra trips. But overloaded trucks are more likely to tip over and cause an accident when the truck rounds a turn. Other times, companies that load trucks don’t fasten the haul sufficiently to the flatbed trailer. This can result in the cargo coming loose from the trailer and causing a danger for other motorists. If improperly loaded or overloaded cargo played a role in your truck accident, the cargo-loading company may well be named as a liable defendant in your lawsuit.Companies that Plan Routes
18-wheelers can’t drive down the same paths as ordinary passenger vehicles. For instance, plenty of roads, bridges, and tunnels have weight, height, and cargo restrictions that have to be considered when the truck’s route is planned. Given these complexities, truck drivers rarely improvise their own routes while they are driving. Rather, route-planning companies are responsible for planning the big rig’s paths ahead of time. If the company that plans the semi truck’s route fails to take into account important restrictions and sends a truck on a route that will make it pose a danger to other motorists, the route-planning company may be held liable for any resulting injuries.
Truck drivers, trucking companies, manufacturers, companies that load trucks, and companies that plan routes are just some of the multiple individuals and organizations who may have been to blame for your wreck. It’s critical to determine just which individuals or organizations, or which combination of them, are liable for your 18-wheeler accident. That allows you to recover the full compensation you’re due for your losses, and experienced 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys can name all of the liable parties for you. The San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys at our firm have two decades of experience in identifying all of the liable parties.Conducting an Investigation
In the aftermath of an 18-wheeler accident, it’s typically necessary to perform an investigation into the circumstances of the accident. Performing an investigation lets you figure out who caused your wreck, and it lets you collect the evidence that’s needed to prove in the courtroom who was behind your accident. As discussed above, you carry the burden of proof in the trial. Jurors don’t want to simply be told how to decide; they want to see, touch, and hear evidence that justifies your position. Powerful evidence collected in an investigation isn’t just a helpful component of a case. It’s necessary to win.
The experienced San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys at our firm have been performing thorough investigations for so many years that we have the procedures down to a science. In fact, our standard procedure is to fly to the scene of the wreck in just about every big rig accident we litigate. When we arrive at the accident scene, we start collecting evidence right away. Pieces of wreckage, police reports, witness statements, measurements, photographs, test results, and other evidence that we collect may all be helpful in proving your case. We find these items and store them in such a way that they are later properly admissible in the courtroom.
On the other side of the case, the defense attorneys also perform an investigation of your 18-wheeler accident scene. They visit the site of the wreck and look for evidence that might make it seem you were responsible for the accident. Most of the time, defense attorneys are sent to the big rig accident scene just moments after the collision happens. They bring with them a team of investigators and accident recreation specialists. They get this head start on the investigations since they know that waiting a long time for evidence makes it more likely that the needed evidence will have dried up. For example, as time passes, witnesses to an 18-wheeler accident tend to forget what they have seen.
One recent case our our firm 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys litigated demonstrates the need for prompt investigations quite well. In this particular case, our client was accused of causing the collision with a semi truck that had happened in the night. The defendant claimed our client caused the wreck by driving without headlamps installed in his vehicle. When our client called us for assistance, we hurried to the salvage yard where the remains of his vehicle had been towed. Sure enough, we discovered his vehicle was missing headlamps. But this wasn’t enough for us; we decided to check the salvage yard’s video surveillance tapes, tapes that had been scheduled to be routinely destroyed in just a few hours. The footage showed the defendant had entered the salvage yard and taken the headlamps from our client’s vehicle. With this footage in our possession, we were ready to expose the defendant’s tampering with the evidence.
This story’s moral is one the defense attorneys already know. It’s critical to get your investigation underway promptly in the aftermath of your 18-wheeler accident because evidence tends to be more difficult to find as time goes on. Though our 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys are typically able to build good cases even when we aren’t contacted until months following the wreck, our strongest cases are usually built when we are called by accident victims right away. Don’t lose time in getting a San Antonio personal injury attorney at your side.
The clients at our firm are often quite savvy and sophisticated people who are fully capable of picking up a legal textbook and learning about the law by themselves. All the same, there’s much more to winning an 18-wheeler accident case than just knowing the law. That’s why big rig accident victims without lawyers are almost never able to receive the full compensation that their cases are actually worth. In the information below, we’ll explain three obstacles that commonly prevent unrepresented accident victims from receiving the compensation they would otherwise be entitled to.Lying Truck Drivers
In any sort of litigation, the defendant will often have motivation to lie. But in commercial vehicle accident cases, truck drivers have special motivation to twist the truth. Not very many trucking companies will hire a trucker who has a history of causing wrecks. Truckers are well aware of this fact, and they understand that if they are caught as the responsible party for your accident, they will likely lose their jobs and their careers. Given the choice between lying or losing their livelihoods, many truck drivers will opt to invent a story about how you caused the accident and about how they did not. If you can’t demonstrate that the truck driver is lying about the origins of the accident, you may well lose your case and receive nothing for your losses.
Our experienced San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys have strategies for getting the truth out even in the face of lying truckers. Often, we’re able to gather so much evidence that the trucker is discredited. When witnesses statements, video surveillance footage, and forensic testing all back up your version of the events, it’s not likely that a jury or judge will think of the trucker as credible. In other situations, we take depositions to root out the truth. In a deposition, a lawyer can ask questions to the defendant’s witnesses. Our attorneys at our firm have conducted thousands of depositions in the past twenty years. We have perfected our questioning techniques, and we can use them to get lying truckers to tell the truth far in advance of the actual trial.Large Insurance Policies
The law mandates that trucking companies are obligated to carry insurance policies for their fleet of big rigs. These insurances policies are worth about fifty times the amounts of policies carried on ordinary passenger vehicles. Therefore, insurers stand to lose about fifty times more money due to an 18-wheeler accident than they stand to lose in an ordinary passenger vehicle wreck, and so they will devote about fifty times more resources to defending against paying these claims. It’s straightforward to understand why the huge amount of money involved in these cases alone can make it harder to receive compensation from a truck insurance policy compared to a car insurance policy.
Insurers use insurance adjusters to dodge paying out on 18-wheeler accident claims. These adjusters are nothing like the individuals you might have to dealt with in the past if you have ever filed a claim against a policy on an ordinary passenger vehicle. Insurance companies reserve their most experienced and ruthless adjusters to work on big rig accident claims. These are professionals who have reached their current positions by building track records of successfully denying commercial vehicle accident victims’ claims. Usually, the only thing these aggressive adjusters fear is facing an experienced 18-wheeler Accident Attorney.
Be careful when you talk with an adjuster. They’ll likely phone you to ask innocent-sounding questions about your 18-wheeler wreck. They might seem nice, but their actual goal is to get you to say something that can be used against you to harm your case. Whatever you say to them will be recorded and used against you. The best way to deal with insurance adjusters is to not deal with them at all. At our firm, we don’t let insurance adjusters talk to our clients and badger them with questions. We take their calls instead. That way, they don’t have a chance to use your words against you.
Also, insurers frequently use specialized defense attorneys to help them dodge paying claims. These lawyers are highly skilled in insurance defense law, and they know plenty of technicalities that they can use to dismiss lawsuits brought by inexperienced plaintiffs or inexperienced lawyers. The San Antonio Accident Attorneys at our firm, who have been practicing in this area of law for twenty years and counting, know all of the defense lawyers’ tricks and how to respond to them.Self-Insured Trucking Companies
In some situations, an insurance company won’t be involved in the case whatsoever. This is because some trucking companies opt to be self-insured. In other words, they devote a portion of their budget to assets they can distribute to a plaintiff if they are ever successfully sued. If you are facing a self-insured trucking company, you likely won’t be negotiating with any kind of traditional insurance adjuster. Rather, you will be dealing directly with an officer of the self-insured trucking company. Though traditional insurance adjusters can be quite aggressive and stubborn, self-insured trucking company officers are often even more difficult to deal with unless you have an 18-wheeler Accident Attorney at your side.
The salaries of self-insured trucking company officers typically come directly from their employers’ profit. In other words, if a self-insured trucking company officer opts to pay your claim, that means his paycheck will likely take a hit. Because many self-insured trucking company officers are more concerned with their own finances rather than yours, you can expect their personal motivations to take priority in how they handle your claim.
Furthermore, self-insured trucking company officers, unlike traditional insurance adjusters, are not licensed professionals. Traditional insurance adjusters at least are supposed to abide by certain ethical guidelines in order to keep their licenses. But self-insured trucking company officers face no such standards. That’s why clients often hire us after a self-insured trucking company officers have been harassing them. These officers are known for tampering with evidence and taking any number of other unethical steps not to pay victims’ claims. Call us right away for relief from these sorts of behaviors. Our San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys know how to use the law to stop their unethical conduct.What our firm can do for You
There’s a great deal our San Antonio 18-wheeler Accident Attorneys can do to help you succeed with your claim. One of our initial steps is always to make sure our clients get the medical treatment they need. If a client is uninsured or for some other reason can’t afford medical treatment, we can often help that client see a doctor. Our next steps are to manage every step of our clients’ cases and keep them fully informed along the way.