Truck Accident FAQ
Experienced Nashville lawyer who can help you get answers
At The Law Office of Eric Beasley, we have been representing truck accident victims in Metro Nashville and Middle Tennessee for decades. In that time, we’ve been asked - and answered - many client questions. Some of those questions come up more than others. The following are answers to these frequently asked questions.
We help victims of truck accidents recover the financial compensation they deserve. Our legal team investigates your accident to gather evidence, interview witnesses and review accident reports and other documentation. If needed, we consult accident reconstruction experts. We build strong cases insurance companies must take seriously.
Some common questions people have about truck accidents include:
- How is a truck accident different from a car accident?
- What are Tennessee’s tractor-trailer laws?
- What should I do if I was hit by a truck?
- How much should I expect from my truck accident settlement?
- What causes most truck accidents?
- Who is liable in a truck accident?
- How do I file a claim after a truck accident?
- Is there a time limit on when I can sue for a truck accident?
- How much can I expect to get for injuries in a truck accident?
- What can I expect to get for pain and suffering?
- What does “comparative negligence” mean in Tennessee and how does it apply to my case?
- What happens if I reject a settlement offer from an insurance company?
- Is it better to settle or go to court?
If you were hurt in a truck accident in Nashville, it’s important to get trusted legal advice as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
How is a truck accident different from a car accident?
Everything is bigger when it comes to truck accidents. Compared to a car crash, truck accidents have bigger impact, injuries, investigations, insurance company battles and settlements.
There’s a bigger circle of people who may be responsible for the accident, as well. People connected to the vehicle and cargo’s maintenance, operation, or ownership could be liable, in addition to the driver. With so many different people involved (plus their insurance companies and lawyers), truck accident investigations and negotiations can be complicated and require a big commitment from you and your lawyer.
Settlements and court verdicts reflect the extent of your injuries and new post-accident needs. With commercial trucks, the compensation is often larger, too.
What are Tennessee’s tractor-trailer laws?
Tennessee laws regulating tractor-trailers set limits on cargo load weight, truck width and height standards, require vehicle inspections, and put restrictions on what type of material can be transported. Tennessee trucks are required to have brakes on all axles and safety chains, which are metal links that keep a tractor and trailer together in case the primary connection fails. In most cases, truckers must keep a logbook of their driving hours and carry a “health card” that proves they are fit to drive a semi.
What should I do if I was hit by a truck?
Here are the steps you should take if you were involved in a truck accident:
- If possible, in the immediate aftermath of an accident try to document everything you can.
- Write down the chain of events leading up to the crash, while it’s fresh in your mind. This creates a document that will be helpful later in your claim. Focus on the timeline of the accident. Record where, when, and how it happened.
- Call the police. Regardless of the severity of the accident, you need the police to file an accident report to make your claim.
- Take pictures of the accident and injuries.
- Identify witnesses.
Get checked out by a medical professional to create a record of your injuries. Even if you feel fine, get examined - you could be suffering from unknown internal damages. If you are examined at the site of the accident by an emergency responder, it is still worthwhile to go see a doctor. Sometimes, in the chaos of an accident, injuries can go unobserved. Get a record from all medical examinations.
Cooperate with the police and stay friendly in the situation but say as little as possible and do not agree to any blame in the accident.
Get in touch with a lawyer. If you want to collect damages in Tennessee, you need to prove that you were not the primary cause of the accident, the extent of your injuries and property damage, as well as provide projections of future lost wages, medical bills and other long-term recovery needs.
How much should I expect from my truck accident settlement?
Victim compensation following a truck accident is based on several considerations: accident severity, extent of the victim’s injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future medical bills related to the accident. In the most severe and fatal accidents, survivors may be awarded millions of dollars. In an accident where the victim sustained minor injuries, the award could be in the thousands. There is no average settlement for a truck accident.
The Law Office of Eric Beasley has a reputation for getting clients all the compensation they deserve. We recently won a $3.5 million post-verdict settlement in a wrongful death claim that involved a car accident with a construction vehicle. We also negotiated a $250,000 settlement for a client who had to have neck surgery following a tractor-trailer crash.
What causes most truck accidents?
While both passenger vehicle and commercial truck drivers can cause accidents with risky driving behaviors like speeding, distracted or aggressive driving, or getting behind the wheel fatigued, truckers have much more room for things to go wrong. An overloaded trailer could cause a rollover. A quick stop due to a roadway hazard could cause a jackknife accident. While many car makers like to talk about how their vehicles can “stop on a dime,” trucks cannot do that. An 18-wheeler going 60 mph down I-65 will need several hundred feet to come to a stop. This braking delay leads to many accidents.
Who is liable in a truck accident?
In a truck accident, there are often more people and businesses responsible for your pain and suffering than it may first appear. In many cases, you can seek damages from the
- Driver’s employer
- Cargo owner
- Truck owner
- Manufacturer of faulty truck parts
- Truck’s maintenance company
- Crew that loaded the truck, among other parties
How do I file a claim after a truck accident?
Most accident claims end with a settlement.
You can put in a claim with your car insurance provider if your policy covers the type of crash that you were in and the kinds of injuries you sustained. Your insurer will likely seek to recoup this money from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
You could also file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Or you can skip straight to filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the people responsible for your accident injuries. Attorney Eric Beasley can help you weigh your legal options and choose how best to pursue justice in your case.
Is there a time limit on when I can sue for a truck accident?
Yes. In Tennessee, truck accident lawsuits should be filed within a year of the accident. In the case of a wrongful death accident, a lawsuit must be filed within three years of the victim’s death. If you are filing an insurance claim, you’re going to want to do that within the first few days after an accident.
How much can I expect to get for injuries in a truck accident?
Many factors come into play when a claim award is calculated including driver training, weather conditions, vehicle maintenance, speed, intent, the severity of injuries, permanent damage and property loss among other things. Due to all these variables, there is no average settlement for individual injuries.
To give some idea of the award amounts available, though, you can look at the trucking industry’s insurance regulations.
Truckers are required by federal and Tennessee law to carry many forms of accident insurance. Depending on what a trucker is hauling and where he is going, in general, Tennessee truck drivers must carry a minimum liability auto insurance policy of between $300,000 (if they’re transporting home goods) to $5 million (if they’re hauling hazardous materials).
What can I expect to get for pain and suffering?
If you sue for pain and suffering, the amount requested will likely be three times the total award for economic and physical damages.
What does “comparative negligence” mean in Tennessee and how does it apply to my case?
Tennessee uses a modified “comparative negligence” system to assign fault in an accident and award damages. In some cases, a jury will find that a truck accident victim had some responsibility for the crash and reduce a proportional share from their compensation award. For example, if a jury awarded a truck accident victim $100,000 in damages and found that the victim was 10 percent at fault for the crash, the award would be reduced by 10 percent. Instead of getting the full $100,000, the truck accident victim would get $90,000.
What happens if I reject a settlement offer from an insurance company?
It likely won’t take long for an insurance adjuster to offer you a settlement. Once you file a claim, an adjuster will investigate the accident, your injuries, and the insurance policy’s parameters. Soon after, you will receive a settlement offer that is almost certain to be too small for your post-crash needs. The first offer is just the beginning of the settlement negotiation.
You are more likely to win a larger settlement if you have an experienced Tennessee truck accident attorney, like the ones at The Law Office of Eric Beasley, taking on the insurance companies for you. If you aren’t fully compensated, you may wind up paying expensive accident-related medical bills out of pocket for the rest of your life.
Is it better to settle or go to court?
About 95 percent of personal injury claims are settled out of court. This is often preferable for the insurance companies because it gives them more control of the outcome instead of putting it in the hands of a jury. Truck accident victims may want to stay out of court to lessen their stress and reach a quicker conclusion to the ordeal. Whether a claim or a lawsuit is filed, a good accident attorney who knows Tennessee through-and-through will give you leverage over the insurance agencies and negotiate a better settlement for you.