Tractor-trailer drivers are trained to never admit fault or apologize if they’ve been involved in an accident – even if the accident was obviously their fault.
These drivers are told that they will lose their bonus, truck, or even their job if they are found at fault for an accident. The employers and insurance companies educate them on how to document an accident scene, record witness statements, and speak with the investigating officers. Most of our clients have not had the benefit of that training. Worse, our clients are often being loaded into an ambulance as the truck driver is documenting the scene and giving the police officer his version of the facts.
Why do they go to all of the trouble you ask? Commercial vehicles like tractor-trailers can cause massive damage – both to people and property. Serious trucking accidents are on the rise here in the low country as our already overcrowded roads are filled with more and more big trucks causing more and more serious injuries and deaths. Compounding the problem, the need for commercial drivers is on the rise while the availability of qualified drivers is diminishing. Unfortunately, that equals more unqualified drivers behind the wheel.
The good news is that tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles are required to have much more insurance coverage than private vehicles so there is more money available to pay for the massive damage they often cause. More good news is that tractor-trailer verdicts are on the rise in the Southeast with the median verdict now at just over $4 million. Armed with the truth, juries are beginning to hold these trucking companies and their unqualified drivers accountable. We know the insurance companies’ playbook and we know how to defeat the specialized Trucking Defense Lawyers the insurance companies and trucking companies hire. Even worse news for them, we know the trucking companies often have the smoking gun in their own files – and we know how to get it.
The moment we are contacted about an accident, we send a team to photograph, measure and inspect the accident site and all the involved vehicles. Also, most tractor-trailers now have tracking and/or recording devices (“black boxes”). We immediately pursue that data before it is written over, lost when the system resets, or otherwise inconveniently disappears. However, we are not contacted until weeks or even months after the accident. By that time, the evidence from the accident scene is no longer available and we are behind the trucking company and the insurer in our efforts to investigate the accident.
In a recent case involving a tractor-trailer, we were not hired until weeks after the accident. By that time much of the evidence was no longer available. As a result, our only option was to prove the case using the trucking and insurance company’s own investigation – a difficult prospect at best given that insurance adjustors zealously guard their investigation files and claim they are protected from disclosure by a work product privilege. True to form, in this case the defendant trucking company refused to produce the investigation of the accident scene that was done by the insurance company and we were forced to seek a court order for its production. Ultimately, we were able to convince the trial judge that the insurance company’s investigative file should be produced. The trial judge also sanctioned the insurance company for hiding its investigative file. Incredibly, the insurance companies investigative file included a treasure trove of facts that showed the trucking company and its driver had not only caused the accident but that they had acted recklessly. The value of our client’s case tripled and we able to resolve his case for a confidential seven-figure sum that fully compensated him – all without the need for a trial.
If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial vehicle you need to understand that there is likely a lot of information available on your accident. However, without the assistance of a lawyer with experience in uncovering this information it is likely to remain hidden in the insurance adjustor’s files. We’ve handled many trucking and serious injury cases and we have the skill, knowledge, and experience to ensure that you get the best result and most compensation possible.