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What Does A Truck Accident Lawyer Do?

Motor vehicle crashes involving 18-wheelers and other large trucks can be among the most dangerous, and they can result in significant injuries to the people involved. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s statistics for large truck and bus crashes, close to 5,000 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes in 2020. That same year saw 108,000 injury crashes involving large trucks and buses, with approximately 160,000 people injured. If you are involved in a collision with a large truck or 18-wheeler tractor-trailer and want a lawyer to handle your injury claim, you will want a lawyer with experience handling trucking cases to get the best possible result for your case.

A truck accident lawyer can help with case investigation by identifying the liable party, collect evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, or prepare a case for trial.

  1. Case investigation
  2. Gather case evidence
  3. Proving damages
  4. Settlement negotiations or file lawsuit

Trucking cases often differ from ordinary, run-of-the-mill auto accidents in many respects, including the reasons why the crash happened, the complexity of relationships between the parties that may be responsible, and the laws and regulations governing the trucking industry. Experienced trucking accident lawyers know how to conduct a thorough investigation into the crash and gather the evidence needed to prove all aspects of your case. They will establish who caused the crash and what evidence will prove their fault. They will monitor your injuries and treatment and gather the medical evidence that will prove your damages. Experienced trucking lawyers will help shepherd your case from its start to its eventual resolution, and this includes knowing when to enter settlement negotiations and when to prepare a case for trial.

1. Case investigation

The goal of the investigation is to establish the parties responsible for the crash and the facts or documents that will prove their fault. From the initial police crash report, roadside testing or inspections done by state police, and photos of the accident site and vehicles involved, a lawyer can develop a good understanding of the facts of the crash and possible reasons it happened. Your lawyer may use the Freedom of Information Act or Sunshine Laws to gain access to investigation materials not normally released to the public. Additionally, it may be appropriate to visit the scene, or have an expert do so, in order to take pictures, make measurements, and possibly conduct a crash reconstruction. 

A thorough investigation can reveal whether violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations by the truck driver or trucking company contributed to the reasons the crash happened. A good background search on the truck driver or trucking company involved can also turn up prior FMCSR violations and may reveal whether there are any patterns of behavior that can make crashes more likely to occur. In determining what parties bear responsibility for the accident, your lawyer will want to consider not only the truck driver and trucking company that hired them but also other potential parties, such as the shipping company that owns the cargo and the broker who arranged for the trucking company to transport the cargo, among others.

2. Gather case evidence

The question of who is at fault for a crash may seem like an easy call. Proving that the other party is responsible, however, can be more complicated than it appears. An experienced trucking lawyer will gather every bit of evidence that tends to show the negligence of the truck driver, trucking company, and other parties at fault. This can mean proof of negligent driving (such as failing to follow the rules of the road) or negligent training and supervision on the part of the company. It can also mean failure to follow state and federal trucking regulations regarding hours of service, driver medical examination and certification, vehicle inspection reports, and vehicle repair and maintenance logs, among many others.

3. Prove damages

As in almost all injury cases, proving that the crash caused your injuries and damages requires medical treatment records, bills, and the opinions of your treating doctors. It can also involve the opinions of expert consultants regarding lost income, lost ability to work in the future, any additional medical treatment you might need in the future, and the cost of that treatment. An experienced injury lawyer knows that proving the other driver’s fault is only part of a successful case. It is crucial to establish the complete picture of your injuries and damages in order to get the maximum compensation you deserve. 

4. Settlement negotiations or file lawsuit

A skilled trucking lawyer will know when to file suit and when to discuss settlement with the at-fault parties. Sometimes this can be after medical treatment is complete and a clear picture can be painted of your damages. Most lawyers will want to give the case a good chance of settling before a lawsuit is filed in order to save their client the additional time and expense that come with filing suit. It may only be after a lawsuit is filed and the case is developed more fully that the parties are ready for settlement talks. This can be the case with many trucking accidents, as there may be necessary facts and documents that can only be obtained by court order or important witnesses whose testimony can only be secured by deposition. Knowing when to enter settlement negotiations is a skill that comes with experience, and the trucking lawyers at Brown & Crouppen know that the best way to set a case up for successful resolution is through hard work, building the strongest case for our clients that we can, and being prepared to go to court when necessary.

Get help with your claim from a truck accident lawyer

If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with a large truck or 18-wheeler, it can be difficult to juggle all the decisions that follow between scheduling medical treatment, figuring out what to do with the bills that start coming in, and dealing with the physical and emotional pain that follows a traumatic crash. You should not also have to worry about whether an insurance company is taking advantage of you or if you are taking the right steps to get the compensation you deserve. The attorneys at Brown & Crouppen can help you navigate this difficult season. 


Mark C. Johnson is a personal injury attorney based out of St. Louis, Missouri, who practices in Missouri and Illinois with Brown & Crouppen. Schedule a free consultation or connect with him on LinkedIn and on the web.

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