After an accident with an 18 wheeler, you may be in a state of disbelief—and busy dealing with injuries, hospitalization, time off work, and other complications.

But once the dust settles on your accident and you’re trying to get back to normal, it’s a good time to learn more about your legal rights and how you might be able to recover compensation from the person who injured you. So when should you get an 18 wheeler accident attorney? Below we’ll discuss some factors to consider when deciding whether (and when) to hire legal counsel.

18 Wheeler Truck Crashes Are Dangerous

Commercial vehicles are the largest vehicles on the road. Aptly named with 18 wheels, these semi-trucks can be up to 176 feet in length and can have up to four trailers! That means the commercial driver next to you on the highway is in a vehicle over half the length of a football field.

Even the most experienced commercial truck drivers find it difficult to avoid crashing as they navigate sharp curves in the road, turns, merges, expressway exits, and narrow streets when weather conditions are poor. 

A truck driver needs more time to stop than a car driver. The length of time an 18-wheeler needs to slow down or come to a complete stop is about 40% longer than a car requires. Therefore, it’s essential to leave space for truck drivers on the road.

18 wheeler trucks have essential blind spots. While all vehicles have an area where they are blocked from seeing other cars or trucks, 18 wheelers lack a rear window and must rely solely on their rearview mirrors to see what is behind them. The truck and trailer’s massive size creates significant blind spots. 

When Can You Benefit From an 18 Wheeler Accident Attorney?

When Should You Get an 18 Wheeler Accident Attorney?

If you’re dealing with relatively minor injuries and property damage after your accident, you may be able to work things out informally with the insurance company. However, these commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, which means most 18 wheeler accidents cause tremendous damage and serious injuries. Knowing your legal rights—and how to preserve them—is the key to recovering the compensation you deserve. What situations will require an attorney’s assistance?

An experienced lawyer will review the accident scene report, your vehicle damage report, and your medical records to determine if the proper trucking accident claims have been filed. 

When you aren’t sure who’s responsible for the accident.

In some cases, you may not even remember what happened during the accident—making it tough to assess who is at fault. However, an experienced truck accident attorney can investigate your claim and determine who should be named as a defendant. 

Investigating a commercial truck accident requires more record-keeping than a typical car accident. Among other things, someone needs to interview witnesses, take witness statements, and obtain and review truck maintenance logs.

Once all the information is collected, you need to compare it to the police report and try to identify if there are any inconsistencies. It’s essential to have all potentially-responsible parties involved in the case as early as possible so that you don’t run afoul of the statute of limitations on personal injury claims. 

Just a few of the parties that could potentially be responsible for an 18 wheeler accident include:

  • The driver
  • The driver’s employer
  • The trucking insurance company
  • The truck manufacturer
  • The truck repair shop
  • Government entities (like a state highway department)

Having an experienced truck accident attorney can allow you to focus on recovery while your claim is thoroughly investigated and all potentially liable parties are pursued. 

Litigating a personal injury claim can be challenging, even for experienced attorneys. And non-attorneys who decide to represent themselves in a civil lawsuit are held to the same standards as licensed attorneys—which, for those who aren’t familiar with the rules of procedure or evidentiary rules, can be a significant uphill battle. There are often options short of litigation that can help you resolve your claim, like arbitration or mediation, that are all but impossible to pursue without an attorney.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for which legal strategy is wisest, and an experienced 18 wheeler accident attorney is in the best position to help you choose a winning strategy. From tracking critical evidence to building a compelling case, your attorney can help you decide which choice is likely to provide the best outcome. 

When the insurance company isn’t offering you enough to cover your expenses.

The trucking insurance company has one goal: to get rid of your claim as cheaply as possible Whether this means a quick and early settlement or a drawn-out court battle, the insurance company will fight as hard as possible to pay out as little as possible. And because many 18 wheeler accident victims face mounting medical bills and significant vehicle repair (or replacement) costs, it can be tempting to accept an early settlement offer to remove some financial pressure. 

Your attorney can help calculate the value of your claim, ensuring that you don’t leave money on the table or settle for less than the total lifetime cost of your injuries. Even if the amount you’re being offered seems like enough, getting a second opinion from someone who has seen dozens of settlement offers can ensure you’re making the right choice in settling a claim. You deserve the maximum compensation possible for your medical injuries. You never know when something that’s supposed to have a short recovery time becomes a chronic injury.

When you don’t want to deal with the insurance company.

After an accident, one of the last things you want to do is spend time on the phone with (or writing letters to) the trucking company’s insurer fighting for compensation for damages. Negotiating with insurance representatives can be exhausting, and these representatives aren’t above using high-pressure tactics to encourage you to settle quickly—and without seeking legal advice. By hiring an 18 wheeler accident attorney, you’ll be able to delegate all these difficult conversations to your legal counsel, knowing they will fight for a fair settlement while you focus on resting and recovering. 

When you want to recover non-economic damages. 

The insurance company may offer enough to pay your medical bills in some cases. But before you sign a settlement agreement, consider your other financial losses, including economic and non-economic damages. For example, you may require future medical care stemming from your injuries; you may have lost income or harmed your ability to earn more income in the future. Recovering these additional economic damages can help you retrain for a new career or pay down debt so that you can live on a lower income. 

Meanwhile, non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of companionship, emotional distress, and other less-tangible harm resulting from your 18 wheeler accident. In many cases, the financial compensation for non-economic damages can dwarf the amount of recovered current and future economic damages. 

If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck or 18 wheeler accident, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Ferraro Law Firm, you’ll meet with an experienced trucking accident attorney who will focus on your case and will use all our resources to ensure you have the most robust representation possible. To schedule your free consultation, call 888-554-2030 or just fill out our free case consultation form, and a member of our team will soon be in touch. 

Frequently Asked Questions: Truck Accidents

  • What is the time limit for filing a truck accident claim?
  • How long do truck accident lawsuit cases usually last?
  • What evidence does a truck accident victim need?