Why Truck Accident Lawsuits Are Different from Other Vehicle Claims
Since the law and its procedures are meant to cover as many human experiences as possible, there is just no way for it to NOT be complicated. For every bill, there are caveats and exceptions; a long list of factors that can change a case this way and that. The average layperson typically doesn’t need to worry about these, though, but that does mean they may not know about a certain legal option until it’s too late. Attorneys are meant to fill in the knowledge gaps and represent clients, but clients still must know when to seek them out. And, for their own sake, clients should have some idea of what to expect — especially when their case is about seeking damages after a horrific accident.
Drivers of trucks, cars, motorcycles and even pedestrians are involved in fatal or severe accidents every day. While each personal injury lawsuit for each vehicle shares similarities, there are more differences than one may think. What you would do after a car accident isn’t necessarily the same thing you would do after a truck accident because of the different factors involved. While no one expects victims to know as much as their attorneys, understanding your own case can only increase your chances of success.
Truck accident injuries are especially extensive — and expensive
It’s no secret that truck accidents can be deadly and, in fact, usually are. Anyone on or near roads has likely been warned about the dangers of following trucks too closely, not giving them room to turn, or not minding their blind spots. Fatal truck accidents — and therefore truck accidents in general — have been on the rise here in Tennessee since 2021, so being extra cautious on the road has never been more important. When truck accidents can’t be prevented, the results are literally, legally speaking, catastrophic.
Now, it’s not that car accidents are safe or harmless, but it is true they are less likely to leave you with a debilitating, life-long injury if they don’t take your life. The most minor of car accidents can indeed be relatively harmless for those involved, or at least only cause minor damages like whiplash, scrapes and bruises, or a bump on the head. Severe car accidents can indeed still kill or severely disable victims, but when it comes to truck accident, there is just no such thing as a minor collision.
A large reason for this is simply the size difference between a truck and a sedan. Greater size means more mass and more force of impact, but it goes a bit deeper than that. The actual shape of trucks invites blunt force trauma because of their wide, dull fronts, which essentially causes them to work as battering rams in collisions. They go through or over anything in their path, frequently killing anyone that may be involved. Even if victims do not die on the scene, they are likely to die in the hospital, and those who survive are never the same. Another massive danger of truck accidents is the cargo they are likely carrying. Even without hazardous or flammable materials on board, any loose or fallen cargo is deadly debris for those outside the truck.
With all this in mind, it is no wonder the most common catastrophic truck accident injuries are all incredibly severe:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Severe burns
- Loss of limb/amputation
- Partial or total paralysis
Any of these injuries can not only take over a victim’s life, but their life savings as well. From years’ worth of medical bills, treatments, accommodations, lost wages, and pain and suffering, many victims and their families of truck accidents cannot afford recovery without seeking legal damages.
Understanding truck accident liability in Nashville
Just like car accidents, truck collisions can happen for a wide variety of reasons. Driver negligence remains the leading cause, but other common catalysts include mechanical failures and road conditions. Unlike car accidents, more people handle or otherwise control the average truck, and therefore more parties are potentially liable for an accident. Since Tennessee is an at-fault state, determining the exact cause of the collision is paramount if you want to get the damages you deserve.
Was the driver driving exhausted purely out of negligence, or is their employer illegally forcing them to work through breaks? Were they swerving out of recklessness or to avoid a deep pothole in the road, and simply lost control? Who is responsible for a broken piece of equipment that caused an accident — the manufacturer or the person meant to inspect and maintain it?
It isn’t that the truck driver is never at fault — it’s that it is likely not just them. You’re not just dealing with one person and their greedy insurance company. Even if the truck driver caused the accident by texting and driving, their employer could still be partially liable. In fact, any combination of the following parties can be held liable after a truck accident:
- The truck driver
- The owner of the truck (if separate from employer or driver)
- The employer of the truck driver
- Whoever arranged the deliveries
- Maintenance and repair companies
- Manufacturers of defective truck parts (such as defective tires, brakes, or other necessary equipment)
- The Tennessee Department of Transportation and other state agencies/entities, in cases of unsafe or poorly maintained roads
Truck accidents are serious, so they are taken seriously. Those who employ truck drivers have a long, strict list of rules and regulations to both follow and enforce for the safety of everyone on the road — the employees included. Improper training or vetting of employees can be just as dangerous as the reckless driving itself, as can neglecting routine maintenance, inspection, and mandatory rests. Thankfully, these dangerous practices are indeed illegal, so they can be held accountable when caught. Certain employers may try to falsify truck driver logs to hide certain malpractice (especially after an accident), but a skilled personal injury attorney knows how to uncover the truth.
Truck accident lawsuits require you to prove a breached duty of care caused your injury, and everything from those truck driver logs to pictures you take at the scene can work in your favor with the right representation on your side.
What should I do after a Nashville truck accident?
After you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a truck accident, your first step after seeking medical attention should be hiring a personal injury attorney. The sooner we can get started building your case and gathering information, the stronger it will be. Once we’re hired, we’ll handle the fact-finding and keep you in the loop along the way. We recommend victims and their families keep as many notes and documents as possible, especially those given by your doctor, but your biggest task is taking care of yourself. Your attorney will either figure out a fair settlement with the insurers involved or prepare your case for trial depending on the details.
If your injuries count as catastrophic, Tennessee caps your non-economic damages at $1 million. Those are things like pain and suffering, mental trauma, and loss of companionship. Your medical bills and all other economic or punitive damages have no cap at all. This means you can potentially have every cent compensated — as long as the liable parties don’t get their way. It seems cruel to imagine those responsible caring so much more about their own money than your recovery. It is an unfortunate truth, and it is one of the many reasons why you should not try to fight this battle alone. Even if you are a spouse, child, parent, or other loved one seeking wrongful death compensation, the other side will still try their very best to pay you nothing.
They do not have to win. At Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, our Nashville personal injury attorneys are dedicated to making sure they don’t, so our clients can afford the recovery and peace they deserve. We have years of experience helping victims and their families after truck accidents, and we are proud to put those years to work for you. We maintain offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Clarksville for your convenience, and you can always call us or use our contact form.