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When Should You Get a Lawyer for a Truck Accident?

When a truck runs into you, it’s rarely just a fender-bender. No matter what size your vehicle is, it is no match for an 80,000-pound semi. Accidents involving an 18-wheeler are often traumatic and devastating, frequently leading to severe injuries. Truck accident claims are complex and require an in-depth knowledge of all relevant laws and regulations. You also need to be fearless in your pursuit of damages from responsible parties. More than one party may be at fault in the accident that caused your injury, and each one of them will have an insurance company invested in not paying you what you deserve. When you hire Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, you can focus on your recovery while we take care of building your case and getting you compensation for everything you lost.

Why Are Truck Accidents Complex?

Determining fault in a car crash is challenging, even if there are only two potential parties involved. Numerous laws govern how drivers, insurance companies and the courts handle traffic accident cases. When you have a truck accident, determining fault is often trickier, as more than one trucking industry entity may be responsible for the accident.

The Legalities

An attorney who works on commercial truck accident cases needs to understand the federal and state laws that regulate the industry and personal injury lawsuits. These laws all have implications for proving fault and determining whether your case has merit. The Jason Stone Injury Lawyers team evaluates and builds each case with these laws in mind.

Federal Truck Regulations

The federal government regulates the commercial truck industry, establishing guidelines for highway safety. The states govern insurance requirements for passenger vehicles, but federal laws establish financial responsibility requirements for commercial trucks.

Insurance

Operators of trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds when loaded must demonstrate through insurance or a surety bond that they have $750,000 or more in liability protection. Hazardous materials carriers need either $1 million or $5 million, depending on the cargo. However, the fact that they’re covered doesn’t mean the insurance company will be willing to payout.

Operations

Federal regulations also establish guidelines for the safe operation of semis and other large trucks. The law places responsibility for the maintenance, management, driving and operation of a commercial truck on the trucking companies, their representatives, agents and employees. If they hire drivers, those parties are responsible for the training and oversight of drivers, who must also comply with the law. These regulations can play a large part in determining who’s at fault in a truck accident.

State Laws

State laws govern auto insurance requirements and personal injury laws. These laws also factor into truck accident claims, as does the Statute of Limitations.

Auto Insurance Laws

Nearly every state requires drivers to prove they can pay for an accident that is their fault. Most people do this through insurance. Massachusetts is a no-fault car insurance state. When people get into an accident, they must file a claim with their own insurance provider, no matter who is at fault. Massachusetts drivers must carry personal injury protection, and the insurance company pays the damages. However, you can still pursue a legal personal injury claim if:

  • Your losses exceed your insurance coverage
  • You incur more than $2,000 in reasonable medical expenses
  • You sustain injuries resulting in broken bones, disfigurement, loss of sight or hearing or loss of quality of life

Your PIP insurance does not compensate for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. You can only recover those damages in a lawsuit, and an experienced car accident lawyer can help you get a fair settlement.

Modified Comparative Negligence

Another critical law determining the outcome of a truck accident case is a state’s personal injury law. Most states follow comparative negligence law, with 13 operating under pure comparative negligence rules and 33 adhering to modified comparative negligence standards. Massachusetts follows a modified comparative negligence law. According to this state’s regulations, a person’s ability to collect damages in a personal injury lawsuit depends on the individual’s responsibility for the accident. If a claimant is more than 50% liable, the individual will not recover any damages, regardless of how bad the injuries are. When claimants are less than 51% liable, they receive a percentage of the awarded damages equal to the other driver’s liability. If you sustain injuries in a truck accident, the insurance company and, potentially, the other side’s legal team will do what they can to place most of the blame on you. At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we understand the measures insurance companies and defense attorneys take to prevent paying a fair settlement. We know what it takes to establish liability in a truck accident case.

Statute of Limitations

If you sustain injuries in a truck accident, you only have three years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit. That may seem like a long time, but it can pass surprisingly fast. It isn’t unusual for people to miss the deadline due to the time it takes to recover and ongoing battles with the insurance company. Once the three-year mark passes, you have no legal recourse to recover your losses. A personal injury lawyer can help ensure you don’t miss this critical deadline.

Determination of Fault

Determining fault in an auto accident is often challenging, but it’s even trickier with truck accidents. Whereas liability in car crashes generally focuses on the drivers, there may be more than one liable party in accidents involving semis. An experienced truck accident lawyer understands what evidence to look for to determine who is at fault. In addition to the driver, liability may rest with the following individuals or entities:

Roadwork contractors and government entities might also be liable if road conditions contributed to the accident.

Getting past the 50% Threshold

The other hurdle for establishing liability is making sure you can prove the other party or parties are more than 50% liable for the accident that caused your injuries. Massachusetts identifies 18 situations where fault is automatically assumed to be more than 50%. The most likely situations drivers encounter in truck accidents include:

  • Out-of-lane collision
  • Collision on the wrong side of the road
  • Failure to signal when changing lanes
  • Driving in the wrong direction
  • Failure to adhere to driving rules and regulations
  • Merging onto a highway

The state implemented these rules to guide the Board of Appeals when determining liability in traffic accidents. However, an attorney can utilize this information when building your case and negotiating with the at-fault parties.

When Do You Need an Attorney?

If you sustain an injury from a collision with a semi, an attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve. A lot is riding on your claim. If you leave it to the insurance companies, you are not likely to receive a fair settlement. Get in touch with a truck accident attorney immediately, so the lawyer can analyze your situation and get to work on your case.

Who Can Help You With Your Truck Accident Claim?

At Jason Stone Injury Lawyers, we understand the challenges of pursuing a claim when you’re trying to recover and get your life back. Let us alleviate the stress and remove the financial burdens. Our Stone Cold Guarantee ensures that we don’t get paid until you settle your case. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation. There’s no obligation, just information.

Sources:

https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-23/chapter-I/subchapter-G/part-658/section-658.17

https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-49/subtitle-B/chapter-III/subchapter-B/part-387

https://writing.bkacontent.com/writing/items/385775

https://www.mass.gov/info-details/basics-of-auto-insurance

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXIV/Chapter90/Section34M

https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIII/TitleII/Chapter231/Section85

https://www.mass.gov/service-details/standards-of-fault-to-be-used-by-the-board-of-appeal-on-motor-vehicle-liability-policies-and-bonds-and-insurers-in-presuming-fault-when-making-at-fault-accident-determinations

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