National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 2019, 152 people were killed in large truck accidents on Tennessee roads.
Suffering an injury or losing a loved one as a result of a semi-truck accident can be devastating. On top of the pain you experience, you could face mounting bills and an uncertain future.
Fortunately, you have options. If the careless actions of another were responsible for your accident, you have the right to seek damages. The experienced Gallatin truck accident attorneys at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers can help you understand your options. We want to help you hold the at-fault party accountable and obtain just compensation for your losses.
A number of factors can cause truck accidents. Some of the most common include:
Identifying the cause of your accident can help us determine who might be responsible for your damages.
Truck drivers must obey the same traffic laws as any other driver on the road. But Tennessee and the federal government also impose additional requirements to protect the public from the potentially devastating consequences of semi-truck accidents.
Tennessee requires all commercial truck drivers to have a commercial driver license (CDL). To maintain a CDL, the driver must periodically obtain a medical certification that they are fit to drive.
Large trucks must undergo regular safety inspections and maintenance. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to fill out a driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) every day for each vehicle they operate. The DVIR must examine important parts and equipment such as:
The DVIR requirement encourages drivers to discover any safety issues long before they become a problem. Failure to complete these reports or repair defects noted in the report can support a claim for liability against the driver or trucking company.
The FMCSA sets service hour limits for commercial truck drivers. Commercial truck drivers:
These rules protect others on the road by preventing driver fatigue, a major culprit of truck-related accidents.
The FMCSA requires those who employ truck drivers to keep six months of records showing:
These logs provide accountability for employers in complying with federal hour requirements. They can also be a valuable piece of evidence in your truck accident case.
The FMCSA requires drug and alcohol testing of commercial truck drivers in several different circumstances, including:
If you were injured by an impaired truck driver, an employer’s failure to comply with these testing requirements could strengthen your claim for compensation.
One of the reasons that truck accident cases are more complicated than other types of vehicle accidents is the likelihood that more than one person or entity might be responsible for your accident. Your Gallatin truck accident lawyer can help you identify the at-fault parties and available insurance coverage to maximize your compensation.
The truck driver might be legally responsible for your accident if they caused it through their negligence. The driver may have violated traffic rules, fallen asleep at the wheel, or even been intoxicated.
The trucking company that employs the driver often bears responsibility for the driver’s actions. Moreover, the trucking company itself may have been directly responsible. For example, they may have failed to repair equipment identified as faulty.
Or they may have required drivers to drive more hours than permitted by law. Sometimes, trucking companies even doctor their logs to hide the fact that they are overworking their drivers. An experienced Gallatin truck accident attorney can help you get to the bottom of the trucking company’s responsibility.
If cargo falling from a truck caused your accident, you might have a claim against those who loaded the cargo. This may be the trucking company, or it may be another company or individual. Your attorney can help you identify all those who played a part in deficiently loading the truck.
Suppose the trucking company or truck owner hired a mechanic to conduct repairs. If the mechanic failed to perform the agreed-upon repairs or negligently completed the repairs, they may share responsibility for your accident.
Often the truck owner and the trucking company are one and the same. But if the trucking company does not own the truck, then the owner may bear responsibility for the accident. The most likely basis for owner liability is a failure to inspect, maintain, and repair the truck adequately.
Large trucks are made up of many complex parts. However, sometimes these parts are designed or manufactured defectively. When this occurs and a part malfunctions, it can lead to serious injury. If you can prove that a faulty part caused your accident, the part manufacturer may be responsible.
To obtain compensation for your truck accident injury, you must prove that someone else’s negligence caused your accident. This involves proof of four elements:
Truck drivers, their employers, and all others involved in ensuring the truck is safe to drive owe a duty to others on the road. This duty requires them to use reasonable care in driving, managing, loading, repairing, or conducting other safety activities related to the truck. If they breach this duty and their breach causes an accident, they can be held responsible for any resulting damages.
To obtain compensation, you must prove the amount of your damages in the form of bills, medical records, expert testimony, and other evidence.
If you suffer injury in a truck accident, there are three types of damages you could potentially recover: economic, noneconomic, and punitive.
Economic damages are the financial losses you suffer as a result of your accident. They may include things like:
Economic damages are the easiest to calculate.
Noneconomic damages are a bit harder to calculate than economic damages because they are based on intangible losses like:
Noneconomic damages consider how the accident has negatively impacted your life beyond financial costs. They may be established through medical records, expert testimony, and your own testimony.
The amount of noneconomic damages recoverable can vary drastically from case-to-case. Your attorney can help evaluate your circumstances and determine what a reasonable settlement for your noneconomic damages might be. In most cases, Tennessee caps noneconomic damages at $750,000, but the cap may be increased to $1,000,000 in limited circumstances.
Punitive damages are not awarded in most cases. However, they are available when the defendant acted maliciously, intentionally, fraudulently, or recklessly. For example, if a trucking company neglected important repairs on a truck that it knew were likely to result in an accident, punitive damages might be appropriate.
Tennessee caps punitive damages at two times the total amount of compensatory damages (economic and noneconomic damages combined) or $500,000, whichever is greater.
Tragically, semi-truck accidents sometimes kill innocent victims. If you lost a close loved one in a Tennessee truck accident, you may be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Although such a claim won’t bring back your loved one, it can hold the wrongdoer accountable for their careless or even malicious actions. Additionally, it can provide you with much-needed financial support as you struggle to pick up the pieces following your loved one’s death.
Your Gallatin truck accident lawyer can determine whether you are eligible to pursue a wrongful death claim and help you understand your options.
As you can see, there are numerous thorny legal issues that can arise from truck accidents. That’s why it’s so important to have a Gallatin truck accident lawyer help you with your claim.
Gallatin truck accident attorneys can:
Following an accident with a semi-truck, you have enough to cope with. Let us handle your legal claim while you focus on healing.
Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers has been helping accident victims for 45 years. We care about the people in our community and strive to provide personal and compassionate service to every client. We will even travel to you if you can’t make it to our office.
We have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for accident victims just like you. And best of all, we don’t get paid unless we win your case. So call us today or contact us online to set up a free consultation to learn how we can help with your Gallatin truck accident case.