Iowa Semi-Truck Accidents: Steps to Take to Protect your Loved Ones
Accidents involving large trucks (also referred to as semi-trailer, tractor trailer, big rig, 18 wheeler, etc.) are among the most dangerous and deadly of all motor vehicle accidents, not too surprising given the sheer size and weight of these trucks.
A variety of factors contribute to semi truck accidents including, but not limited to: overload (or improperly loaded) freight; driver fatigue; speed; substance abuse; the negligent hiring of bad drivers; faulty equipment; failure to inspect equipment; etc. Additionally, the sheer size of trucks—together with their lack of maneuverability, inability to stop well, and the inability to see lower traffic out of the truck cab—also can play a role in causing accidents.
As noted in one of our previous blog posts, it has been our experience that weather is seldom to blame for causing a semi-truck accident. For example, how can a trucking firm “justify” rear-ending the car ahead of them on Interstate 80 because it was raining or snowing when other cars and truck seemed to have no problems causing accidents in the same rain or snow storm? Click to see our blog entitled: “Snowy,Icy, Slippery Winter Weather Does Not Excuse Accident.”
Because the injuries and damages caused by semi trucks are typically severe if not catastrophic, and because many trucking firms have very high insurance deductibles (meaning the trucking company may have to pay a very high deductible out of their own pocket before their insurance policy kicks in), seemingly simple semi truck accidents where the truck driver appears to be clearly and solely at fault, can become quite contentious as the trucking firm lawyers and the separate insurance company lawyers typically fight every inch on such cases.
It is more over important that the law firm you choose has experience with the type of injuries suffered in a given accident. For example, if a person suffers extensive spine and brain or spine injuries, they should look for lawyers who have handled cases in these areas. Brain and spine injuries are a personal cause for Sam Sheronick as he has served on the Board of the Brain Injury Association of Iowa and has served on the Board of the East Central Brain Injury Association of Iowa where his law firm regularly edits a monthly brain injury newsletter sent to nearly 450 brain injury survivors, caregivers, doctors/healthcare providers, and federal and state legislators. Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C. has won numerous awards from these organizations related to work in the field of traumatic brain/spine injury as Sam Sheronick has also helped prepare Model Acts related to brain/spine injury legislation in Iowa. This cause is personal to Sam Sheronick as he has represented many clients who have suffered from traumatic brain and spine injuries over the years.
Trucking companies and their drivers must comply with strict state and federal regulations requiring the keeping of log books, time sheets, inspections, and other criteria. These records may be crucial to a claim based upon a truck driver’s lack of alertness or problems involving fatigue.
Semi trucks are also required to carry much higher amounts of insurance coverage as truck drivers must also meet higher standards than the drivers of other vehicles. Moreover, truck companies are required to perform background checks prior to hiring drivers and they must periodically evaluate their existing drivers.
Truck drivers, by law, are limited to the number of hours they can drive in a given period of time. Truck drivers are also supposed to be subjected to both random drug and alcohol tests and they are additionally supposed to be subjected to drug and alcohol tests following an accident. Violations of state and/or federal law can provide the basis for establishing fault on the part of trucking companies and their drivers.
One of the most common questions our firm is asked in trucking cases is whether anything needs to be done while those seriously hurt in the accident are recovering. Every minute an accident victim waits to hire an attorney is an extra minute the insurance company and trucking firm have to hide, delete, or alter evidence. As noted before, given the seriousness and extensiveness of injuries and damages suffered in semi truck accidents, you better believe big corporations—like big insurance companies and big trucking companies—will do virtually ANYTHING to avoid having to pay out on claims.
So “black box” data might suddenly be deleted, driver logs showing hours driven might have been destroyed, drug test results might have been “fixed,” telemetry and satellite tracking devices (which the trucking companies use to track their drivers) might have been “down” during the time of the accident (or the data may have been since deleted), and the trucking company and/or its insurance company bring in in their “risk” people and subcontractors (typically within minutes of the accident) to lobby law enforcement to minimize the truck driver’s role in having caused the accident while blaming the weather or other drivers for having caused the accident.
Clearly, it is in our clients’ best interest to bring our firm into the case as soon as possible after an accident so that we can take steps to protect the clients’ case while the clients are taking steps to heal and rehabilitate. In this manner, our firm is able to take the appropriate steps to obtain such evidence before it goes missing while putting the trucking company on notice not to destroy evidence. If our firm puts trucking companies on notice shortly after an accident that they should preserve the requested information, data, and evidence, we may very well be entitled to favorable jury instructions in the event the trucking company later destroys such evidence. For example, if our firm is hired early on after the accident and we send a request to the trucking firm to preserve—among other things—the driver logs because we think the truck driver was driving more hours at a time than allowed by federal law, and if the trucking firm thereafter destroys the driver log, a judge may very well instruct the jury to presume that had the trucking company not destroyed the driver log book, the log book would have shown that the truck driver drove more consecutive hours than is allowed by law. Trucking companies are only required to retain certain evidence for certain periods of time, so if our firm is not hired shortly after the accident, sending a letter asking the trucking company to preserve evidence long after the accident may be too late if the evidence is already destroyed, making it harder to get the favorable jury instruction noted above, particularly since the trucking firm is only required to keep certain evidence for a certain period of time.
Another reason for getting our firm involved in a case as soon as possible after an accident is so that we can meet with injured accident victims and document their painful and excruciating physical and emotional recovery. As noted on our website, we limit the number of cases we handle at a given time to enable us to do our best to give each client the time, attention, results, and compassion they deserve. We need to understand what it’s like to be in the injured clients’ hide because if we do not understand, we will never be able to properly convey our client’s true story to a jury. We cannot do this if we handle too many clients at a time like others firms.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious personal injury, your world probably feels upside down right now as you worry about, among other things: how to keep track of medical bills and who should pay for those medical bills, how to pay your mortgage or rent, whether talking to the insurance companies does more harm than good, and whether you are taking all the right steps to adequately, properly, and legally protect yourself and your loved ones at this very difficult time.
You don’t have to face these issues and uncertainty on your own. Let Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C. take care of the worries and hassles for you so that you or your loved one can concentrate on recovering from serious injuries. Besides, insurance companies know that injured persons get more compensation when represented by an attorney than when they try to handle their cases themselves; not too surprisingly, this is why insurance companies try to persuade injured persons not to get an attorney.
At Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C., we take the time to learn how our clients and their loved ones feel and how their lives have changed as a result of a serious accident so that we can enable jurors to feel what it is like to be in our clients hide. We cannot do this properly if we represent too many clients at one time. We strive to always represent our clients with compassion, understanding, and passion the same way we would want to be treated because in the final analysis, you only get one chance to obtain fair and proper compensation for your serious injuries and damages.
While your well-being comes first, your rights need to be protected while you are recovering from your serious injuries. For over 20 years, Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C. has represented victims who are seriously injured as a result of a catastrophic accident.
Please remember that the sooner you involve Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C. after an accident, the better we will be able to: protect your rights and prevent others from harming you and your case, preserve evidence, contact witnesses, and timely address deadlines and other important issues.
At Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C., there is no fee for an initial consultation and if we decide to take your case, you will not be charged an attorney fee unless you win/settle your case. We can also come to you if you are unable to come to us. For a free consultation, please contact us at: (319) 366-8193 or toll free: 1-888-4SamLaw (1-888-472-6529).
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a serious accident, we can come to you if you cannot come to us; please contact the Cedar Rapids, Iowa serious accident attorney at Sam Sheronick Law Firm, P.C., at 1-888-4SAMLAW or click: https://samlawpc.com
Disclaimer: Please realize the advice given herein is for informational purposes only and may not apply to a given situation as you should consult and experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights to see whether this information applies to your given situation.
Disclaimer: The information contained here and throughout our website, and in our printed or other materials, are for general informational purposes only as this information should not be considered to be legal advice concerning your specific case. You should consult an experienced and knowledgeable attorney in this area of law to determine whether the information given in our videos, website, and other materials applies to your specific case as the failure to do so could do significant harm to your case. Please realize there is much more realted inforamtion than that noted here. Our firm does not represent you unless or until we enter into a written fee agreement signed by both you and our firm. See our disclaimer on this website for additional disclaimer information.