A fully loaded large truck weighs over 80,000 pounds. When these massive vehicles cause crashes, the force is almost incalculable. Making matters worse, victims are frequently pinned underneath wrecked trucks until emergency responders can cut them out of their vehicles. So, these victims usually sustain serious injuries, like severe burns, traumatic brain injuries, and severe broken bones.
Moreover, these cases are legally complex. Most truckers who pass through Kentucky live out of state. In fact, many of them have legal residences in several states. Additionally, the transportation, shipping, or other company that owns the truck is probably an out-of-state conglomerate. That’s an important detail. This company is most likely responsible for damages, under the respondeat superior rule.
Because of these issues, only the most experienced Lexington truck accident lawyer should handle such a claim. Since the injuries are so serious, compensation is usually substantial in these cases. However, the road to maximum compensation is long and winding. Trucker lawyers are some of the most capable and battle-tested defense lawyers in Kentucky. The odds may be long, but a good Lexington truck accident lawyer routinely overcomes them.
Beginning a Legal Claim
Compensation is available if a victim proves negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Therefore, a pre-suit investigation must cover both the law and the facts.
We mentioned the respondeat superior liability rule above. This legal doctrine applies if the tortfeasor (negligent driver) was an employee who was working in the scope and course of employment at the time of the wreck.
The duty of care in a truck crash case might be even more important. Legal duty is central to negligence. Usually, truckers have a higher duty of care than other motorists. That’s because truckers are high;y-trained commercial drivers.
Following distance is one example of the difference. Most noncommercial motorists must maintain about two seconds of distance between themselves and the vehicles in front of them. Truckers should maintain at least eight seconds of following distance.
Factual investigations in truck accident claims usually include both traditional and electronic evidence. Traditional evidence usually includes the trucker’s driving record. Since many truckers are licensed in multiple states, this step is often time-consuming. Electronic evidence usually includes the truck’s Event Data Recorder. Much like a commercial jet’s black box flight data recorder, EDRs measure and record vehicle speed, steering angle, and other operational data.
Strict privacy laws usually protect both kinds of evidence. Frequently, a Lexington personal injury attorney must obtain court orders to bypass these laws.
Resolving a Legal Claim
If the legal and factual issues in a claim are crystal clear, the matter might settle within a few weeks. However, there are usually some legal and/or factual disputes. Comparative fault, which shifts accident blame from the tortfeasor to the victim, may be the most common legal defense. Factually, many insurance companies dispute the extent of damages in these matters.
So, informal settlement negotiations often stall or fail. If that happens, attorneys usually file legal paperwork. This move pressures insurance companies to get serious about settlement negotiations.
Do not be surprised if the insurance company asks the judge to throw the case out of court. Such requests are routine. As long as there is some evidence to support the claim, as outlined above, these motions usually fail.
Mediation is usually the next step. A mediator is basically a court-appointed negotiation supervisor. The mediator ensures that both parties negotiate in good faith. It’s bad faith to simply go through the motions during settlement negotiations. It’s also bad faith to make a “take it or leave it” settlement offer.
If the insurance company refuses to tender a reasonable settlement offer, the judge will not be happy. Therefore, mediation is about 90 percent successful.
There is a lot at stake. Compensation in a truck accident or other injury matter usually includes compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. Additional punitive damages may be available as well, in some extreme cases.
Injury victims are usually entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Lexington, contact the Goode Law Office, PLLC. Attorneys can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money. #goodelawyers