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Nashville Truck Accident Lawyers

Call us at 615-244-4325 or fill out a free initial consultation form—we want to stand up for your rights.

 

Michael: When you’ve been involved in an accident, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. There’s the pain from the injuries, the medical bills, your job, and the insurance company, all of which present problems that must be dealt with. I recommend that you focus on the most important things first.

The first thing you need to do is get medical treatment for your injuries.

Second, is to preserve the evidence from the accident. That is where hiring an attorney like myself will save you from having to go back to the scene and collect evidence, including accident scene photographs, examining debris, measuring skid marks, and taking detailed property damage photographs.

Next, your attorney would interview witnesses, and contact the police officer for any details that are not included in the crash report, while you heal from your injuries. It is important not to settle with your insurance company until your medical treatment has been completed.

Once you’ve settled, you’ve waived your rights to submit any other medical claims. Having the right attorney representing you can greatly increase the likelihood of a good settlement, which means that you can spend time recovering from your injuries and taking care of your family instead of tracking down evidence and fighting insurance adjusters.

 

5 Steps to Take After a Truck Accident

After a semi truck accident, it’s important to seek professional medical care. Some injuries may not show symptoms until days after your accident, and a doctor can evaluate your condition and treat and document your injuries.

After you get the medical help you need, following these five steps can help strengthen your injury claim:

  1. Notify your insurance company.
    Report your accident to your insurance company, but avoid speaking to other insurance companies or signing any official documents as these actions can affect your ability to collect the compensation you’re owed.
  2. Write down the details of your accident.
    After your accident, it may seem like you’ll never forget the details of your crash. But – life moves quickly, and memories can become less clear over time. That’s why it’s a good idea to write down the details of your accident as soon as possible. Try to include information, such as:
    • descriptions of the truck involved,
    • time of day,
    • traffic patterns,
    • weather conditions,
    • and any other details that may help prove your case.
  3. Take pictures.
    Photographs can help show the severity of your injuries after an accident. Have someone help you take photos of your injuries if your doctor hasn’t taken pictures already.
  4. Track your recovery and treatment.
    Documenting your recovery and treatment can help show how your accident has affected your life. Record the doctor visits you attend, the medications you’re taking, and any other treatments or rehabilitation you receive while you recover.
  5. Get an experienced semi truck accident lawyer.
    At Ponce Law, we know how to handle truck accident claims. Let us help you get the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who are the defendants in most trucking accident cases?

It depends on the particular circumstances of each case, but oftentimes there are multiple defendants in a trucking accident case. The most commonly sued parties are the driver of the truck, the owner of the truck, and the company who contracted with or employed the driver. Typically, all three of these parties are sued in a case. 

But these are not the only possible defendants. There could be claims against the safety director for the trucking company, the diesel mechanic, or the vehicle inspector. Again, it depends upon the specific factual circumstances and probable causes of the accident. 

What is the significance of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration?

As stated on its website, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) isthe lead federal government agency responsible for regulating and providing safety oversight of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), FMCSA’s mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses.”

The agency passes regulations, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, that are germane in trucking litigation cases.  For example, 49 C.F.R. §392.2 provides:

Every commercial motor vehicle must be operated in accordance with the laws, ordinances, and regulations of the jurisdiction in which it is being operated. However, if a regulation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration imposes a higher standard of care than that law, ordinance or regulation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulation must be complied with.

This means that oftentimes plaintiffs in trucking litigation cases assert that a truck operator, manager, or owner was negligent for failing to adhere to a FMCSA regulation.

What are the elements of a negligent entrustment claim?

There generally are five required elements to a negligent entrustment claim. The plaintiff must show the following: (1) entrustment of the vehicle by its owner or custodian (2) to an incompetent driver (3) that the owner knew or should have known was unlicensed, incompetent, or reckless, (4) that the driver was negligent, and (5) the driver’s negligence proximately caused the accident. 

It is somewhat similar to a negligent hiring/retention claim. The bottom line to these claims is that the trucking company had some clear knowledge (or should have) that this was a risky driver who should not have been operating the vehicle.

How could a negligent hiring case apply to a trucking company?

A truck company could be liable for a negligent hiring case if the company knew or should have known that the driver was a risky driver.

For example, let’s say that a truck driver allegedly caused an accident with a plaintiff. The plaintiff’s lawyer learns that this particular truck driver has a history of speeding violations and previous accidents. If the trucking company knew of these previous traffic violations and still hired the truck driver, that could form the basis for a cognizable negligent hire or negligent entrustment case.

In other words, it was negligent for the trucking company to hire a driver with such a poor driving record. The trucking company knew this driver posed a risk to other drivers on the road because of his poor driving history.  

There generally needs to be a clear nexus, or connection, between the prior violations of the driver and the current accident.  For example, a federal district court in Texas once explained that “[c]onvictions for domestic violence and possession with intent to distribute, along with traffic violations unrelated to unsafe driving, lack the nexus to the accident in question to establish liability for negligent hiring.”   However, if the prior incidents involved acts of unsafe driving, that might very well have been a different story, as there is a much closer nexus.

What is the significance of the Clearinghouse database and the Clearinghouse rule?

The Clearinghouse database refers to the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse (often called just “Clearinghouse”) established by the Federal Motor Carrier Administration.  This database contains information related to when the holder of a commercial driver’s license violates Department of Transportation rules regarding alcohol and drug use. 

The Clearinghouse rule requires employers of commercial motor vehicle drivers to query the Clearinghouse for current and prospective employees’ drug and alcohol violations before permitting those employees to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) on public roads. Under the Clearinghouse rule, the employers must conduct such a query every year for each driver they employ.

What are hours of service requirements?

Hours of service requirements refer to the amount of time that a commercial motor vehicle operator may drive within a given time period. The idea behind hours of service regulations is that operators can become fatigued and less aware if they log too many driving hours within a certain period of time.  In other words, the hours of service rules are designed to reduce driver drowsiness and, thus, reduce the number of accidents.

In trucking litigation, a plaintiff may discover that a truck driver simply logged too many hours in a given day or week. This information could be useful to the plaintiff in order to show that a likely cause or contributing factor to the accident was a drowsy, overworked driver. For example, one common “hours of service” rule is that a commercial truck driver cannot drive more than 14 hours in a day. If a plaintiff can establish that a trucking employer regularly had its drivers operate trucks in violation of the hours of service rules, that could be quite damaging to the defendant-employer.

Can truck drivers be drug tested?

Yes, those with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are required to be tested at the pre-employment phase, could be subject to a drug test after an accident, and could be subject to random drug testing.  

Drivers must be drug tested before an employer can hire them to operate their vehicles. The employer must receive a negative drug test before allowing the person to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV).  Then, those drivers often are subject to drug testing after she or has been involved in an accident, depending upon the type of accident.

For example, if a truck driver is involved in an accident that leads to a human fatality, the driver must be drug tested. So, there is mandatory drug testing at the pre-employment phase and often the post-accident phase.  Those who employ commercial motor vehicle drivers also must institute a program that requires random drug tests. Depending upon the size of the company, a certain percentage of the drivers will be randomly drug tested each year. An employer also is supposed to drug test a driver when the employer has reasonable suspicion that the driver may be operating a vehicle under the use of illegal drugs.

Why Call Ponce Law?

When you’ve been injured in a truck accident, you can call any lawyer. But when you call Ponce Law, you’ll get a law firm that will take the time to get to know you and your family. You’re not just a case number to us—you’re someone who needs help.

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