Injured in an accident with a commercial truck or semi? The Law Office of Tony Merchant can help. Our team has decades of experience winning millions of dollars for truck accident clients like you.
Truck accident cases are some of the toughest personal injury law cases you can possibly face. You’ll usually find yourself arrayed against a large corporation who is willing to pull out all the stops to fight you. Their insurance companies don’t want to pay up, so you’ll need an attorney’s help to hold them accountable.
Since 1987 we’ve been helping people like you get the compensation they deserve for their truck accident injuries. We serve the entire state of Arizona and we’re ready to help you bring your case to a successful conclusion.
Truck accident cases aren’t like automobile accident cases. In a simple car accident the cause of the accident is usually straightforward: at least one party wasn’t following traffic laws. Thus in a passenger vehicle case the facts of the case on the day in question will have the greatest amount of impact on your case.
In a truck accident, the causes for the accident could be things that happened before the trucker ever got on the road.
For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration limits how long truckers may legally be on the road. There is a daily limit of fourteen consecutive hours of duty after eleven consecutive hours of rest time. During that limit you may only drive the truck for 11 hours. Every 8 hours drivers must take a 30 minute break. There’s also a 60/70 hour duty limit based on a 7 or 8 day period.
Truck drivers violate these statutes all the time because their employers force them to. Yet studies show that a tired driver is even more dangerous than a drunk driver.
Another common cause of accidents is trucking companies who put poorly trained or untrained drivers on the road. Trucks are far heavier than cars and require a lot more expertise to drive. Individuals who didn’t get enough training are a hazard on the road. Likewise, employers have a duty of care to thoroughly vet any truck drivers they hire. If they have failed to do so then they assume more liability for your case.
Another example is the matter of truck maintenance and repair. Often truck accidents are caused by vehicles which have not received routine maintenance and repair. If your attorney can prove proper maintenance schedules were not observed they can use those facts to your advantage.
Most truck accident injuries are devastating and catastrophic. Many of our truck accident clients must now contend with traumatic brain injuries, major spinal cord injuries, disfigurements from cuts and lacerations, potential amputations, burn injuries, and multiple bone fractures.
We also serve the families of these clients in wrongful death cases when a truck accident kills the victim.
Multiple parties may be held accountable in a truck accident injury.
The first and most obvious is the driver. Yet if the driver was an employee of a trucking company or major corporation their employer gets held liable instead. The trucking company may also be held liable if they were breaking certain laws or industry norms.
If there were faulty parts on the truck even the manufacturer of those parts may be held liable.
One of your attorney’s major tasks will be to identify all of the responsible parties so they may all be named on the same claim.
One thing that complicates truck accident cases is the way that trucking companies and corporate interests will do everything in their power to wriggle out of taking responsibility for the accident. One common trick involves declaring the driver of the truck was an “independent contractor” and so is solely responsible for the accident. The “independent contractor” rarely has a sufficient commercial insurance policy to cover your injuries.
Fortunately there are established legal precedents for determining whether someone is an independent contractor or not. You need an attorney who will know how to prove that the driver was under that trucking company’s control if you want to hold the party who can actually pay the bills responsible for your accident.
Another complication comes from the amount of resources the average trucking company has to throw against the average plaintiff. They’ll typically pull out all the stops to avoid paying the claim. They do this in part because they want to protect their reputation and in part because their own insurance companies and policies usually demand they do everything it takes to fight the claim. In addition, they don’t want their premiums to go up.
The result? A company that’s going to work hard to use Arizona’s comparative negligence laws against you. If they can’t somehow prove that you were the one at-fault when the giant semi slammed into your tiny car, then they’ll try to at least prove you were somewhat at fault.
In Arizona, each party gets assigned a percentage of fault. Someone might be 10% at fault or 20% at fault or 40% at fault. Whatever that number is, your award is reduced by that same percentage. Every percentage point can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.
If they can’t do that, then they’ll start trying to downplay the severity of your injuries, saying that you weren’t really hurt as badly as you claim. They do this to try to reduce the multiplier on your pain and suffering award, saving themselves hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars.
Throughout all of this your attorney needs to build the strongest possible case so that it’s possible to counter these moves, both during settlement conferences and, if necessary, in court before a jury. You should make sure your truck accident attorney has a long track record of success. This is not the type of case you want to leave to an amateur. 1
A truck accident case will typically take 18 to 24 months from the date you file your claim. Note that this is not always the accident date. However, it’s usually best for you to file your claim as close to the date of the accident as possible.
Truck accident claims are bound by Arizona’s statute of limitation laws. You must file your claim within two years of the date of the accident.
Both insurance companies and trucking companies often try to trick plaintiffs into “running down the clock” by claiming they can’t file their claims until they’ve reached full maximum medical improvement, or MMI. They may also request mountains of paperwork or present you with dozens of hoops to jump through. Do not let them do this.
You may hire an attorney to file your claim for you on the day of your accident if you want to. An attorney can even handle both your insurance company and the defendant’s insurance company for you. This speeds up your claim, ensures you get your money faster, and prevents you from being misled into making major mistakes which can hurt your case. If you have to decide between waiting to file and moving forward, always err on the side of filing your claim and hiring an attorney as fast as you can.
Most truck accident cases are worth over $100,000, but it’s difficult to say what your truck accident settlement will look like without knowing all the facts of your case. You should be aware that much will depend on the extent of your injuries, the level to which your injuries impact your life, the facts of your case, and your attorney’s skill as both a negotiator and a litigator.
Still, the components of a truck accident case never change.
The first component consists of your economic damages. Some of these damages are fairly straightforward: your medical debts and your lost wages are both concrete numbers that can be worked into a settlement.
Some will require some negotiation. For example, if you can never work again then you should receive some compensation for your loss of earning capacity. Yet this would be a projected number based on how long you would have been expected to work in the future had the accident not occurred, and how much money you might have made. These are uncertain figures which will require some negotiation.
Long-term care bills are another area where your attorney might need to do some serious negotiation on your behalf. Medical experts can help project a figure as to how much rehabilitation and follow-up care you may need, but nobody can know the future. Therefore it will be up to your attorney to maximize these figures as much possible.
The second part of your settlement will be your pain and suffering award, which will also require keen negotiation skills in order to maximize.
In Arizona, the pain and suffering award is calculated by assigning a multiplier based on the severity of your injuries and the extent to which your injuries are impacting your life. This could be any number between one and five. Your economic damages are then multiplied by this number to assign your pain and suffering damages.
Obviously there can be a big difference in award money when the multiplier goes up or down by even one point. You want an attorney who will push for the highest possible figure. As there are no charts or guidelines for the multiplier it’s wholly up to your attorney’s ability to demonstrate exactly how bad your injuries are either to a jury or at a settlement conference.
Finally, truck accidents can come with punitive damages, and are a common personal injury case type where punitive damages can be a factor. If the truck driver was driving under the influence or broke federal trucking laws we can push for punitive damages. We can also push for them if the trucker was improperly vetted or trained, or if the truck was not properly maintained.
A Tuscon truck accident attorney can help with every part of the claims process. We can handle both your insurance company and the trucking company’s insurance company, ensuring you don’t say or do anything that can harm your case.
If you were unconscious and unable to gather evidence after your truck accident then we can get to work locating the evidence for your case and reconstructing your accident. We then prepare the case as if it’s going to go to trial, whether we intend to settle or not.
Finally, we can argue and negotiate on your behalf, or represent you in court if necessary.
You are 40% more likely to get paid at all if you work with an attorney, and an attorney can get you three to ten times more money then you would have gotten on your own. This is even after we account for contingency fees and the expenses associated with pursuing a truck accident case.
Trucking companies are going to throw everything they have at you. Shouldn’t you do the same? Contact the Law Office of Tony Merchant today.
Call (480) 581-8801 to schedule a case review today.