Truck Accident Lawyers
The list of potentially liable parties does not stop with the trucking company, however. Every trucking company that uses flatbed trailers has a whole set of companies and contractors who take care of other, ancillary aspects of the job, including manufacturers who make the cargo straps, the flatbed parts or even the engine parts and the anti-lock brakes, the route-planning companies that create detailed routes for the driver, and the company that handles the loading and securing of the cargo on the flatbed. All of these companies and all the employees involved might bear some of the liability for the accident. For example, the route planning company might not update their digital files (often the equivalent GPS databases) and the truck might pass under an overpass without enough clearance room, knocking the cargo off the bed of the truck and injuring or killing other motorists and pedestrians. In that case, the route-planning company would bear serious liability for the accident. You can easily imagine other scenarios where a third party bears liability: a cargo strap breaks, the anti-lock breaks fail, the trailer hitch is not properly secured, or the cargo is improperly loaded and comes loose. These situations will be indications that another party has been negligent and bears the liability for the case. In such situations as this, your flatbed accident attorney should be on hand to help you determine who bears the liability and who can be named in the lawsuit. Remember, no one is legally required to automatically pay you compensation for injuries and hospital bills and lost wages. You have to take the initiative and retain the services of an experienced and competent San Antonio flatbed trailer accident attorney who will help you get the just and fair compensation you deserve.
Some Obstacles for Accident Victims
Bringing a lawsuit against a flatbed trailer driver, trucking company, third party or insurance company without the assistance of an experienced flatbed truck wreck lawyer can be impossible. The legal system is already complicated but in a case like this, there are numerous obstacles that will absolutely prevent you from receiving the compensation you deserve. An experienced and competent attorney will be able to help you overcome these obstacles which might undermine and destroy your case. Some of the obstacles you should be aware of when you begin the process of filing a claim after you suffer injuries in a flatbed trailer accident might include: the cargo source (and the third-party liability that comes with it), dishonest drivers, large and protected insurance companies, self-insurance, and the burden of proof.
One reason that our firm provides this article is so that you will have an idea of what you should expect from a case resulting from a flatbed trailer accident. If you have been injured in San Antonio flatbed trailer accident, then read on to see what some of the obstacles to getting fair compensation are.
The Cargo Source (and the Third-Party Liability that Comes with It)
It might be the case that you don’t even see a flatbed trailer and that the accident occurs when you collide with or swerve to avoid some piece of cargo lying on the road long after the flatbed trailer carrying the cargo has gone on. In a situation such as this, determining liability can be very difficult for a layman without legal knowledge and experience. To bring a suit to court, you must first determine the identity of the liable parties and therefore must seek out the truck that dropped the cargo in the first place. Cases like this are fairly common. During the loading process, even a small bit of negligence can make a difference when the cargo is many tons. This can happen and some part of the cargo might fall off the truck without the driver even being aware of it. In such situations, a San Antonio flatbed trailer attorney has access to the investigative teams that can help you determine whose cargo it was that caused the accident in which you were injured.
Another obstacle, and one that is fairly common as well, is a dishonest driver who will lie to cover up their liability. Remember that the truck driver’s reputation and experience and competent behavior are key to being successful and continuing to find work. There are a lot of drivers out of their availability to work and a black mark on the record of a driver will often be a determining factor in whether or not they get hired for any jobs. Because of this, the drivers will often try and cover up their mistakes and negligence by lying to protect their interests. It is an all-too-understandable reaction and unfortunate in that their lie might prevent you from receiving compensation for an injury caused by their negligence. In cases where the driver is negligent and causes injury to another motorist or to a pedestrian, it is a zero-sum game. Someone wins and someone loses. If you have been injured and the driver is lying to cover up their liability, you have a great deal to lose. This is why it is so important to determine liability and to retain an experienced attorney who will be able to see through the lies of the driver.
An experienced San Antonio flatbed trailer accident attorney will have many methods of getting to the bottom of the case and detecting the truth through the lies of the driver. The first thing will be to gather as much evidence as possible to show that the driver is being dishonest. An example of this is when in one of our many successful cases we used surveillance footage to prove that a truck driver was being dishonest when he claimed that the victim of the accident was driving without headlights at night. Our footage showed that this was not the case. Another way that an experienced lawyer will be able to get to the truth is through a deposition. A deposition allows the lawyer to question the witnesses for the defense before the trial even begins. An experienced and competent lawyer will be able to ask questions that will get witnesses to admit the truth or get caught in a lie. Here at our firm we have taken thousands of depositions and know what it takes to ensure that your rights are protected before and during the trial. Our goal is to ensure that your side of the story is effectively conveyed before the judge and jury and that the truth be revealed about the negligent parties.
Large and Protected Insurance Companies
Perhaps the number one obstacle during a flatbed trailer accident claim is the insurance company. Although television commercials give the impression that insurance companies are fair and selfless, it must be remembered that they are for-profit businesses whose entire business model is to gamble against the chance that their policyholders need to make a payout. In the world of insurance, the big guns are the industrial insurance companies whose policies cover millions of dollars of damages should they occur. As you can well imagine, an insurance company that covers potential damages resulting from an accident involving thousands of pounds of heavy machinery hurtling along at many miles per hour is involved in a serious business. While simple automobile insurance companies might make a fifty thousand or a hundred thousand dollar payout, industrial flatbed trailer insurance companies stand to lose millions. Because of this, the company will go to enormous lengths to prevent that loss by means of denying your claims, pressing you to accept an insultingly low settlement and more methods that are unethical at best.
With the value of the flatbed trailer accident policies being so high, the insurance companies will have a team of dedicated professionals whose main job is to fight your claim in and out of court. They will have experienced lawyers who have specialized in the field and will know the ins and outs of the technical world of flatbed trailer insurance, they will have a team of adjusters whose goal will be to see the minimum possible payout, and they will have a team of investigators who will try and build a case in defense of what has happened. These investigators are motivated to act in way that the average person would deem unethical and have been known to take actions, which cause even further hardship to the victims of the accidents. You can guarantee that the insurance companies will have their teams in the field within 24 hours of an accident, sifting through evidence, pressuring you to settle, and building a case against you. It’s what they are paid to do and because of the stakes, they are paid well. They have all been hired because they are the best at their job, their job is to deny and prevent damage claims made by other accident victims such as yourself.
Even dealing with the insurance company agents will take its toll on you, adding to the burdens you will already bear through your injuries or those of a loved one. They will have company employees making frequent and aggressive calls to your home, and will attempt during those conversations to get you to let slip that you are not that badly injured and that it might have been your fault. Rest assured that your conversations will be recorded and that they will be intentionally trying to get you to let something slip that might sink your claim. We have known insurance company employees to call many times a day, make personal visits, goad victims and their families into signing harmless-looking papers that turn out to destroy a claim, and even visit the hospital where the victim is receiving care. We have had cases where the insurance company adjusters have visited the funeral of an accident victim in an attempt to get the family members to sign away their right to sue the company. Our attorneys have dealt with nearly every major insurance company in the nation and have twenty years of experience with all of their tactics. The companies recognize our name and understand that when we have been retained that they can’t use unethical tactics like the ones described above. Often our reputation alone can help a company see their way to making a fair settlement.
Another major obstacle comes when a trucking company chooses to self-insure rather than purchasing a policy from a major insurance company. Though it might sound like this would mean they have less experience and are more likely to lose the case, dealing with self-insured trucking companies is a lot worse than dealing with a major insurance company. The law requires all trucking companies to ensure their trucks, and a portion of them choose to set aside assets for a potential suit rather than paying a yearly premium to a big company. This is completely legal and often will be the smart choice for businesses that don’t suffer any accidents, but with the business of flatbed trailer cargo trucking, the chance of an accident can, unfortunately, be very high. In the event of an accident, you will be forced to deal with the trucking company lawyers rather than the insurance company team.
The person you will be dealing with at the trucking company when you make your claim will probably be an officer of the company rather than the insurance adjuster you would otherwise have dealt with. This employee will have a serious interest in denying your claim because oftentimes their salary or their bonuses or even their job can depend on how successfully they block your claim. In addition, the tactics of a major insurance company, regardless of how unethical they may look, are still within the law since the company and all its employees are licensed professionals who must face the consequences of their actions should they be discovered. If a traditional insurance adjuster were to use the tactics of the self-insured trucking company officer, they would lose their license permanently. Where the traditional insurance company agents can be aggressive and rude, the self-licensed trucking company agent can be harassing and even threatening. It is, unfortunately, a common occurrence to have trucking company officials threaten the victims or the witnesses and even to tamper with evidence. Here at our firm, after twenty years of dealing with self-insured trucking companies, we know what is involved and we know how to prevent such behavior. Our number one goal is to protect our clients and their interests from behavior such as this and see that they get their fair and just compensation for the injury and damages they have received as a result of a flatbed trailer accident.
The Burden of Proof
Despite all of the previous obstacles, there is in addition a serious legal obstacle for every claimant to overcome in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. That is the Burden of Proof. An underrepresented or non-represented plaintiff is required by law to prove that the defendant is guilty. This may seem unfair, but it is a basic tenant of law in the United States and without it many individuals could be unfairly forced to compensate for someone else’s negligence. The law presupposes that the defendant in any given injury claim is not required to compensate the plaintiff unless the plaintiff shows the evidence that he or she is required to collect by the burden of proof, proving that the defendant is indeed guilty. If the plaintiff does not collect enough evidence or if the evidence they have is not convincing to the jury, then they will receive no compensation. The burden of proof in any case involving injury or wrongful death has four parts that must be proved in order to recover any money for damages and injury.
At the beginning of the article, we discussed how everyone on the road owes a duty of care to everyone else. We likened it to a version of the Golden Rule. One way of looking at it is determining how a reasonable, rational person would behave in any given situation. Since everyone owes a duty to those around him or her not to do them harm, behaving unreasonably or irrationally in a given situation is considered negligence and determines liability in the case of a flatbed trailer accident. In this situation, the driver might owe the duty, or the trucking company, or the company overseeing the loading, or the route-planners, or even the manufacturers.
Once you have proven that the defendant owed a duty to you, you must then show that he or she breached the duty of care through negligence by acting in such a way that a reasonable, rational person would not act. This might be as easy as showing that the defendant broke a minor traffic rule, like running a stop sign, or as complicated as showing that a third party company was responsible for loading poorly, therefore breaching their duty through a different kind of negligence.
Causation must be proved by showing that the defendant’s actions or the lack thereof were the cause of the harm you suffered. If the load fell out of a truck and another driver swerved to miss it without looking around them and ran into you, then causation might be more complicated, since it appears that several causes were to blame. In this situation, the driver of the truck and the trucking company might not have caused the accident or the resulting injuries at all, rather, a third party and a fourth party caused them. You must prove in court that the defendant in front of you caused the breach in duty.
The final element that you must prove if you want a successful completion of your case and the resulting compensation you deserve is the element of damages. By damages, we mean the full monetary value of everything you have suffered, from the hospital bills to the property damage to the emotional toll. You will have the hospital bills at hand, hopefully, to show that damage and the car garage should show your property damage, but it remains to be seen that you suffered emotional damage or other intangible damages like loss of future earnings or loss of earning potential. These less clear damages are difficult to calculate and even more difficult to prove to a jury. For hospital bills and the necessity of treatment, you can always bring in a doctor and physically show the bills to the jury, but for loss of future wages, you are actually dealing with a very important and vital piece of information that can change your whole life. If you can’t return to your normal working potential you will lose more money over the course of your life than you can easily calculate. Have you ever thought about calculating emotional damages? Our San Antonio flatbed trailer accident attorneys have the years of experience to know how to help you calculate the damages so that you can get the full and just compensation you deserve for your injuries resulting from a flatbed trailer accident.
If you are considering a trial, then it is absolutely vital that you retain the services of a competent and experienced lawyer who knows how to help you get the most compensation you can by helping you prove each separate element in the burden of proof.
Flatbed Truck Wreck Law Firms and How They Can Help
Have you or a loved one been injured or has someone close to you been killed in a San Antonio flatbed trailer accident? If so, then you should know that here at our firm we will fight for your right to just and fair compensation. We will handle your case from the beginning right through to the end, keeping you completely informed and updated on the process and each step of the way.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a flatbed trailer accident in San Antonio, Amarillo, Dallas, Austin, Lubbock or anywhere in the state of Texas, then don’t hesitate to contact our law firm for a free consultation and we will begin to build your case today. Whether you suffered as a result of poorly loaded cargo, bad driving, misguided route-planning, anti-lock brake failure, or any other aspect of a flatbed trailer accident, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We will fight for your right to receive the full and just compensation you deserve.