Birmingham Truck Accident Attorney
When truckers, trucking companies or other parties slip up, the Birmingham truck accident lawyers at Drake Injury Lawyers step in. If you’ve suffered injuries in a collision with an 18-wheeler, big rig, tractor-trailer, delivery truck or another commercial truck in Birmingham, contact us for assistance litigating a personal injury claim against a local or national trucking company. Call (205) 970-0800 today.
Why Choose Us?
- Drake Injury Lawyers is committed to integrity, honesty and open communication with clients. You will feel seen and heard by your attorney as he or she works toward your case goals.
- We have over 25 years of experience and close to a 99 percent case success rate. We have recovered over $100 million in successful results for our past clients.
- We have the skill and experience to handle even the most complicated cases, including challenging truck accident lawsuits. Personal injury law is all that we do at Drake Injury Lawyers.
WHY DO YOU NEED A TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER?
When we receive phone calls from truck accident survivors, they often wonder if it’s worth it to spend the money on an attorney. The answer is yes. Only an attorney can aggressively negotiate with prominent trucking companies and their corporate insurers in a way that will convince them to offer greater compensation. Only an attorney can make the filing process seamless, simple and stress-free for accident victims. Only an attorney can act as your confidant and advocate for your rights throughout the entire legal process.
Hiring an attorney takes the burden to prove your case off of your shoulders. Since Alabama is a fault state, crash victims have to prove the other driver is at fault for the collision to qualify for insurance benefits. This can take an in-depth investigation of the truck accident, access to the truck’s black box or electronic logging device, review of federal and state trucking laws, analysis of police reports, interviews with witnesses, and crash re-creation – most of which are beyond the average client’s scope of abilities.
Instead of handling your claim on your own, trust a law firm with proven results. Partnering with the right lawyer can mean elevating your claim beyond the level of an average conversation with an insurance agent. It means safeguarding your rights in the face of a major trucking company that may try to convince the courts of your contributory negligence. In Alabama, any amount of fault on your part can completely eliminate your chances of recovering damages. Don’t take this risk when you’re facing a mountain of medical bills and lost wages. Protect your rights by retaining an attorney from Drake Injury Lawyers.
Truck Accident Statistics
Truck accidents are often catastrophic, taking thousands of lives each year. In Alabama alone, 10,486 crashes involving large trucks in 2019 took 137 lives and injured 2,612 more. National statistics from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that there were 5,005 large trucks involved in fatal accidents in 2019. In the vast majority of these cases (82 percent), the deaths involved in truck accidents were not occupants of the large truck. Passenger car drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are much more likely to be killed in truck accidents than truck drivers.
A collision between a huge semi-truck and a passenger vehicle is always a mismatch, likely to cause extensive injuries to the passenger vehicle occupants. It’s even worse if the truck is fully loaded and traveling at a high speed. To minimize this problem, federal law requires big rig drivers to get special licenses and special training, puts strict limits on their hours, requires large insurance policies, and holds them to a higher standard than ordinary drivers. For these reasons, truck accident lawsuits are unique from typical car accident claims.
ABOUT TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWSUITS IN ALABAMA
There is no room for driver negligence in the trucking industry. With vehicles that can reach more than 20 times the weight of the average passenger car, commercial truck drivers must use the highest standards of care to avoid collisions. They must obey federal laws on top of state-specific laws as common carriers. When they don’t, victims have the right to file lawsuits. Large trucks are particularly prone to involvement in accidents for at least three reasons:
- The trucks have limited visibility (large blind spots).
- They take longer to stop because of their weight; at 55 miles an hour, the stopping distance of a typical semi-truck is more than twice the stopping distance of a passenger vehicle.
- They are less maneuverable. Big rigs typically begin a left turn by swinging wide to the right to get a better angle. Drifting in the opposite direction of the intended turn has lured car drivers into trying to pass on the side to which the truck suddenly turns.
Because of the dangerous nature of commercial trucks and the propensity for catastrophic accidents, commercial drivers have a host of responsibilities that other drivers do not. Falling short of these responsibilities or breaking any regulatory laws and causing a truck wreck could lead to company liability.
FEDERAL AND OTHER GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND TRUCK ACCIDENTS
In addition to Alabama’s extensive regulations governing the use of trucks, trailers and semi trailers, the federal government’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration provides extensive requirements that apply to trucks used in interstate commerce. Among the many subjects of regulation, the FMCSA sets out minimum standards for:
- Vehicle safety and maintenance
- Driver qualifications and limits on driver hours of operation
- Driver training requirements
- Financial responsibility
- Licensing requirements for motor carriers, brokers and freight forwarders
- Lower minimum blood alcohol concentration levels
- Electronic logging device requirements
- Cargo loading and securement rules
- Special rules for hazardous materials
Violating these regulations amounts to negligence and can be the basis for recovering damages for injuries caused by a truck accident. As a result, any lawsuit to recover for injuries in a truck accident may involve a detailed analysis of the regulations in addition to the usual concerns, like the speed of the vehicles in the accident, whether one vehicle was following another too closely, whether proper signals were used before turning, and the like.
TYPES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS
The broad phrase “truck accidents” covers a lot of different situations. The nature of the accident often affects who gets injured, how severe the injury is and who might be legally responsible for the damage. Many types of accidents occur only when there is more than one vehicle involved; others may involve other vehicles, or not.
Common types of truck accidents include:
- Head-on collisions occur when the truck strikes another vehicle traveling in the opposite direction; these accidents involve tremendous forces and frequently cause severe injuries and deaths to occupants of both vehicles. Many accidents of this type involve drivers who are distracted, impaired, tired or actually asleep.
- Rear-end collisions occur when the truck crashes into the back of another vehicle; these accidents tend to cause significant damage to the front vehicle, especially if the truck is fully loaded. Rear-impact collisions tend to be caused by the inattention or negligence of the truck driver, or by sudden stops or cut-ins by the driver of another vehicle.
- Underride collisions occur when a smaller vehicle crashes into the rear of the truck and the smaller vehicle rides under the trailer. Injuries to people in the smaller car may be extensive and severe, especially to the head. Causes tend to be similar to rear-end accidents, with the roles of the truck and the other vehicle reversed. Underride guards on trucks can prevent this type of accident.
- Side collisions occur when the truck crashes into another vehicle’s side, or another vehicle crashes into the side of the truck. These tend to be caused by one vehicle turning across the path of the other, failure of one vehicle to stop at a light or stop sign, and sudden and sharp lane changes.
- Truck rollovers occur when the balance of the truck is upset by other forces. Many are single-vehicle accidents in which the truck rolls over because the center of gravity is outside the wheelbase, but rollovers also occur as a consequence of other types of accidents upsetting the vehicle’s balance.
- Collisions between the truck and something other than another moving vehicle tend to be single-vehicle collisions that occur when the truck collides with fixed objects, people or animals. They typically involve guard rails, buildings, poles, pedestrians, and animals. Most accidents of this type are caused by the truck driver losing control of the vehicle for any number of reasons, with a smaller number caused by failure to see the object or person that is struck.
Identifying your type of truck accident can help you understand who might be liable – financially responsible – for your property damage and medical bills. The type of accident can point to the cause of the crash, as described above, by determining which driver or party violated a traffic law and was somewhere they should not have been at the time of the collision.
CAUSES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS
Negligence and human error are the most common causes of truck accidents in Alabama and throughout the U.S. Most of these collisions can be avoided with due care and prudence. Truck accidents may result from mechanical problems, driver error and/or impairment, anything that causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle (including load shifts), and any number of obstacles and conditions on the road.
Among the most common causes of truck accidents are:
- Driver fatigue, exhaustion, distraction or impairment
- Driver inexperience, lack of sufficient training or incompetence
- Speeding and other unsafe practices
- Brake, tire or mechanical failure
- Debris or material in the road
- Load shifting
- Defective equipment
- Lane changing in blind spots
If an investigation finds that the trucking company, truck driver, cargo company, road maintenance crew or another party reasonably should have prevented your truck accident, that party will be responsible for your losses. You may be able to hold multiple parties responsible for your truck accident, depending on the circumstances.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?
Any person, company or other organization whose conduct causes an accident can be held liable for the injuries and deaths that result. This means that the cause of the accident has to be determined before making a final decision on who may be liable. The value of getting an experienced Alabama truck accident lawyer involved early in a case to determine liability and identify the defendants cannot be overstated.
Because the commercial trucking industry itself has complicated relationships, it can take time to figure out who was responsible for the truck’s operation at the time of the accident. Some trucks are owned by the same company that owns the cargo, with the driver being an employee of that company (imagine a local furniture store delivery truck). Trucks may be owned by the driver, whom a shipper hires, or owned (or leased) by a trucking company, with the driver merely hired to haul the load – which a shipper has hired the trucking company to transport.
The driver of the truck or another vehicle involved in the accident, the trucking company, and the truck manufacturer are candidates for legal responsibility, but there are many other entities that could be held responsible for a truck accident:
- Blown tires may implicate the tire retailer or manufacturer.
- Auto defects, such as defective brakes, may implicate the manufacturer or the repair shop that installed them.
- Defects in road design or maintenance may implicate a governmental entity responsible for those functions.
- The shipper may have liability if the cargo required specific warnings to the trucker, which weren’t given.
- A distracted, drowsy, drunk or otherwise negligent trucker could make the trucker or trucking company responsible.
- A passenger car crashing into a truck and causing an accident could make the at-fault driver liable.
Despite many truck drivers being independent contractors, federal law holds trucking companies vicariously responsible for the actions of drivers. If a truck driver caused your crash, you could have grounds to seek damages from the company itself.
Unique Types of Evidence in a Truck Accident Case
One of the many things that make truck accident cases unique compared to typical car accidents is the type of evidence involved in proving liability. The commercial trucking industry has ways of keeping track of truck drivers and fleet vehicles, for example, which may be used as evidence during an accident claim. A truck accident lawyer from Drake Injury Lawyers can help you preserve and collect key evidence to support your truck accident claim, such as:
- The truck’s black box, which records data about the truck’s performance
- Electronic data logging devices
- The truck’s maintenance and repair logs
- The trucking company’s federal regulation compliance records
- The truck driver’s medical records and driving history
- The trucker’s driving qualifications
- The truck driver’s hours-of-service logs
- Drug and alcohol test results from the employer
- Cell phone records
As the filing party or plaintiff in a truck accident case, it is your responsibility to establish the grounds of your claim using clear and convincing evidence. You or your truck accident attorney must collect enough evidence to prove that the truck company, truck driver or another defendant is more likely than not at fault for causing your truck accident. This is the only way to obtain financial compensation for your losses. Our lawyers have the experience and resources to immediately start collecting evidence after your truck accident, while you concentrate on healing from your injuries.
What Compensation Is Available?
Surviving a truck accident will bring a great amount of stress. This may include a significant financial burden on you and your family as you try to pay for expensive medical care while also dealing with lost wages from the inability to return to work. While no dollar amount is sufficient to make up for catastrophic injuries or the loss of a loved one’s life, obtaining fair and full financial compensation by holding someone accountable can help you move on from a truck accident with less financial stress. If you lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident, our Birmingham wrongful death lawyers can support you and help fight for financial compensation.
During your truck accident claim, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the following losses, and more:
- Necessary current and future medical care
- Losses of income and future earnings
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological damage
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost quality or enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death damages, if applicable
- Punitive damages
The types of losses for which you can seek financial compensation, as well as the value of your truck accident case, will depend on your unique situation. A truck accident attorney from Drake Injury Lawyers can provide a comprehensive analysis of the value of your case before you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company. This can help you avoid saying yes to a settlement that is inadequate for your current and foreseeable needs. Our lawyers can help you negotiate for maximum financial compensation, even if this means going to trial.
Is There a Deadline to File?
Yes. There is a deadline to file all personal injury and auto accident cases in Alabama. State law gives you no later than two years from the date of your truck accident to file an injury or property damage lawsuit. If you plan on holding the government responsible for your wreck, however, you only have six months to bring a claim against the municipality.
The courts take its deadlines – known as statutes of limitations – seriously. Generally speaking, if you attempt to file a truck accident claim after the statute of limitations has already passed, the courts will refuse to hear your case. This is why it is imperative to contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, while you still have time to bring a cause of action.
Let Our Truck Accident Lawyers Take Care of Your Lawsuit
Many of the entities that may be liable for a truck accident are large, wealthy companies (and their insurers), with every incentive to fight the claim vigorously. It takes determination and a lot of experience to successfully take them on. Drake Injury Lawyers has been successfully handling injury cases, including truck accidents, for a quarter of a century. We only handle injury cases, and we handle them thoroughly, with a success rate approaching 99 percent.
Drake Injury Lawyers has a team of expert truck accident lawyers who know how to prepare a case against a trucking company. This includes accident reconstructionists, D.O.T. and trucking industry experts, and engineers trained to download the data from the truck’s black box. At Drake Injury Lawyers, our attorneys can help you with a complicated truck accident claim, making sure you adhere to filing requirements and Alabama’s two-year deadline. We’ll make sure your case has everything it needs for the very best chances of success.
Our firm can not only bring a claim against the trucking company for the negligence of their driver but also make a claim for negligent hiring, supervision and training, when appropriate. In the event that the truck driver has a poor driving history, Alabama law allows a claim for negligent entrustment of the truck to the driver. We will explore every possible outlet for financial compensation for your specific case.
CONTACT OUR TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYERS TODAY
To discuss your Birmingham truck accident case with an experienced truck accident attorney, contact Drake Injury Lawyers for a free consultation. Our Birmingham personal injury lawyers are happy to meet with you in person to talk about your recent crash and the potential legal actions you could take in pursuit of full damage recovery. Call (205) 970-0800 today for more information.
“I went to Drake Law Firm after my wreck last August. They were always so helpful and kept me up to date on my case. I HIGHLY recommend Drake to anybody with a personal injury case.” S.W.