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Truck Accident FAQ

Answers From an Attorney You Can Trust

Should you call the police after your truck accident? Should you accept a settlement offer? What if the truck driver's insurance company refuses to cooperate? What should you do? What are your options? The same basic rules apply to investigation, or settlement and resolution of your claim from car accidents to truck accidents.  Do not settle any claim until you have consulted with an attorney who understands the full range of issues and questions that need to be addressed and investigated. You have time.  Let us give you guidance.

These are just some of the questions we regularly hear from clients at the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC. That's why we compiled this page containing some of the most frequently asked questions about truck accidents.

If you have a specific question, contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with a Rockville truck accident lawyer right now. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

What's Your Question?

What are common causes of truck accidents?

Many commercial truck accidents can be traced back to the fault of the truck driver or the trucking company. Below are some of the most common driver errors that contribute to truck accidents:

  • Driver fatigue - In order to meet tight deadlines, many truckers drive for hours on end, skipping their required break time. Driver fatigue is the leading cause of tractor-trailer accidents.
  • Speeding or aggressive driving - In an effort to make a certain delivery window, or keep within an unrealistic delivery schedule, truckers will often drive over the speed limit to make up time.
  • Drug use - To fight fatigue, some truckers will use stimulant drugs, such as methamphetamines, to help them stay awake. Unfortunately, these drugs come with dangerous side effects that can easily lead to a truck accident.
  • Improperly secured or unbalanced cargo - Truck drivers and the shipper are responsible for making sure all cargo is properly secured. If it comes loose on a highway, it can cause accidents involving multiple vehicles.
  • Overloaded trucks - Truck drivers are also responsible for ensuring that their load does not exceed the maximum weight capacity for their particular vehicle. Otherwise, the truck's ability to stop or stopping distance can be dangerously limited. Rollover and jackknife truck accidents are more likely when a truck is overloaded.
  • Failure to inspect - Truckers must inspect their vehicles before and after every trip to make sure cargo is properly secured, and all major components are in working order, from tires, to brakes, to hold-down devices. If a driver fails to complete these inspections, their negligence could lead to a truck accident.
  • Failure to maintain the truck adequately - Replacing worn tires, brakes and other safety components is hugely important to a truck's safe travel on the road.
  • Proper training - Drivers must be trained how to handle and properly drive a tractor trailer, and trucking companies must be diligent in making sure their drivers have good safety records before letting them onto the highway and behind the wheel.

In each of these cases, the truck driver is the main negligent party. However, their neglect or wrongdoing may also be partly the fault of the trucking company that employs them.

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How are trucking companies responsible for truck accidents?

Most trucking companies adhere to truck regulations, but some do not. By hiring inexperienced, unlicensed, or unsafe truck drivers, some companies consciously try to reduce the costs associated with their driving crew. They may allow or even encourage drivers to keep schedules or deadlines which cause them to engage in high-risk behavior, such as speeding, or staying on the road longer than the legal amount of time allowed. They may also subcontract out truck maintenance to companies that may do a less thorough job. Trucking companies may also skimp or take shortcuts as to repairs and maintenance in order to save money.

Because of the inherent danger of semi-trucks and similar vehicles in interstate commerce, federal trucking regulations have been put in place to address the most common and preventable types of truck accidents. These regulations cover:

  • Truck driver qualifications - Drivers must have a CDL (Commercial Driver's License) and a certain level of specialized experience.
  • Truck driver behavior - Truckers cannot use alcohol or drugs, and have limited working hours or driving time in order to avoid fatigued driving or falling asleep at the wheel, or driving under the influence.
  • Truck maintenance - Crucial systems must be regularly inspected and maintained, such as brakes and tires.
  • Cargo loading and securement - Cargo must be within weight guidelines, properly placed and loaded, secured, and regularly inspected. Also, may trucks may be carrying hazardous materials such as chemicals, which create an additional risk should an accident occur.

The complaint from the trucking industry about all these regulations has been that they are too expensive and cut down on profits, but when trucking companies fail to adhere to these regulations in an attempt to save money, their negligence can not only destroy, but may cost lives.

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Should I contact the police if I'm involved in an accident caused by a truck?

Yes. Accidents involving commercial trucks can be very complex. They're also often serious accidents which involve severe injuries. Any accident that results in a serious injury should be investigated by the police. That way, there's no doubt later about exactly what happened in your crash. This is especially important since insurance companies often rely heavily on police accident reports when determining if or who to compensate for an accident. We can also enlist our own experts to reconstruct the accident if necessary.

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What should I do if the truck driver doesn't want to call police after our accident?

Insist on calling the police. And if the driver continues to say no, inform the driver that you have the right to call the police after your accident. Don't allow the truck driver to dictate what happens. Insist on calling the police, even if the accident seems minor.

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What information should I get from the truck driver after my accident?

Obtain the following information from the truck driver after your accident:

  • Driver's full name
  • Home address
  • Phone number
  • Driver's license number
  • Insurance policy number
  • Insurance provider name
  • Trucking company name
  • Trucking company address
  • Trucking company phone number

If the truck driver is not willing to provide you with basic information, simply take photos of his license tags and any company names on the truck or the trailer that show the trucking company.

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Who investigates commercial truck accidents?

Several local, state and federal agencies investigate truck accidents depending on the circumstances of the crash. In Maryland, these agencies can include:

  • Local police
  • Maryland State Police
  • National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)

Whoever's investigating your truck accident, it's important to remember that these agencies do not work for you. They're simply focused on determining the cause of the crash, not making sure you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve. That's why it's important to have someone you can trust on your side advocating for your best interests. That's why you need a truck accident attorney from our firm, working for you every step of the way.

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Do different laws apply to truck accidents in Maryland?

Yes. Unlike other motor vehicle accidents, specific laws apply to commercial trucking accidents. In particular, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and U.S. Department of Transportation have numerous rules and regulations governing operation of commercial trucks. Attorney Stuart L. Plotnick knows these laws. And if the truck driver who caused your crash violated them, Attorney Plotnick will do everything he can to hold the truck driver accountable for his or her actions.

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Should I contact the trucking company after my trucking accident?

Yes. As soon as possible after your accident, contact the trucking company that employs the truck driver who caused your accident. If you are having trouble reaching the trucking company for any reason, contact us. We know how to track down trucking companies and find the information you need to build a strong legal case.

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What if the trucking company won't return my calls after my truck accident?

Contact us right away. Don't let trucking companies or their insurance companies give you the runaround. We know how to reach trucking companies and hold them accountable for their actions. That's why we have such a strong track record of success. We know how the legal system works and what it takes to win tough cases.

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Should I accept a settlement offer from the trucking company for my accident?

Just as with car accidents and insurance companies, always be suspicious if  a trucking company wants  to settle your accident claim soon after your accident. What might seem like a good offer often turns out to be far less than many people realize. Often, such offers only cover immediate, emergency medical expenses.That's often only the tip of the iceberg. Expenses associated with accidents caused by truck drivers can add up over time; medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering take time to develop and work their way out. Again, there is no rush and you may be selling your claim short if you settle on the first offer. That's why it's important to contact us right away. We can review your settlement offer and help you decide if you should accept it or demand more compensation. Either way, we're prepared to do the work to help you get your life back on track.

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How much is my truck accident worth?

There's no set dollar amount. Every accident is unique. Some truck accidents are worth a few hundred or few thousand dollars. Others are potentially worth millions of dollars depending on the circumstances of your accident and severity of injury or loss. Factors that can affect the value of your accident include:

  • Severity of injury
  • Length of time you cannot work
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Lost future income
  • Physical therapy
  • Length of disability - Are you permanently injured or disabled?

For example, if you have a permanent disability due to your truck accident, you might have to modify your home to accommodate a wheelchair or other medical equipment. All of these things can add up and result in a lifetime of losses and expenses. And if you didn't cause your crash, you shouldn't have to pay for them. That's why you need to contact our law firm as soon as possible. We can fight for the money you rightfully deserve. We take a measured but aggressive approach, and every case is different.

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Can I negotiate for more money after my truck accident?

Yes. This is the secret many trucking companies and insurance companies don't want people to know. If you believe you deserve more money for your truck accident, you can ask for more money and negotiate for additional compensation. But doing so can be very difficult. You need a strong advocate in your corner. That's why we want to work with you. We know how the legal system works, what tactics are effective and how to negotiate for the maximum compensation.

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Should I file a truck accident lawsuit in Maryland?

That depends on whether the trucking company is willing to be reasonable. Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is the best way to obtain the money you deserve after a truck accident. It will also require access to many items that the company does not have to turn over during a negotiation about its record for safety and compliance with the trucking regulations. But many other legal options also exist. That's why it's important to meet with us as soon as possible. We can help you review all the legal options available to you, including filing a lawsuit against the trucking company or its insurance provider. That way, you can make an informed decision based on all the information available to you.

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Can I appeal my case if my truck accident claim is denied?

Yes. If you take your case to court and your lawsuit is not successful, other legal options still exist. And one of those options is filing an appeal. Appeals are not appropriate in every case and generally very difficult because one must show that the judge committed a serious error as to evidence or some other ruling which impacted the case, but in some cases, they can be your final opportunity for justice. Attorney Stuart L. Plotnick has years of experience filing appeals on behalf of accident victims. He knows how the legal system works, what deadlines need to be met and all the other steps that need to be taken to build a strong, successful legal case.

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How can a truck accident lawyer help me with my case?

After a truck accident, you often only have one opportunity for justice. If you don't demand the maximum compensation for your crash, you might end up having to pay for your injuries and other losses from the truck accident out of your own pocket - even if you did nothing to cause your crash. That's not right. That's why it's critical that you contact the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick, LLC right away. A former insurance company lawyer who defended trucking companies, Attorney Plotnick has decades of experience building strong legal cases designed to win. There's no substitute for such knowledge. You have to put in the hours and do the work that needs to be done to be successful. And that's exactly what Stuart L. Plotnick does every single day - he fights for the rights of accident victims just like you.

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Why should I choose Stuart L. Plotnick to handle my truck accident claim or lawsuit?

If you are seeking compensation for injury or loss associated with a truck accident, you need the help of an experienced Maryland personal injury attorney to handle your case. Stuart L. Plotnick has handled truck accident cases from both sides, as an insurance and trucking company defense attorney, and on behalf of injured victims. He understands the strategies trucking companies use to deny liability in truck accidents, and now uses the insight he has gained from his wide range of experience to build powerful cases for injured victims of truck accidents.

Mr. Plotnick is also dedicated to giving every case the personal attention it deserves and needs to have the best chance of success. Starting with your free initial consultation, you will meet with Mr. Plotnick directly, and throughout your case you will talk to him on a regular basis about your case. You will not be handed off to intermediaries or left wondering about the state of your case.

If you have been hurt or lost a loved one in a truck accident in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, please contact the Law Offices of Stuart L. Plotnick today for a free initial consultation.

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