Luckily, most of us have not experienced a crash with a semi-truck. However, most people have at least witnessed the resulting carnage from a tractor-trailer truck crash, either on the highway, on the side of the road, or in the news. The damage to both the victims and their property can be catastrophic. We are often asked how long it will take to either settle a truck crash case or take it to trial. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question, and each case varies according to its own facts. Seeking accountability from negligent truck drivers and trucking companies often takes longer than resolving other types of cases. While we believe that it is important to pursue a case diligently, it is equally important to prepare the case thoroughly and properly to ensure that victims are fully compensated for their losses. In this article, we will discuss how the investigation of a trucking case, along with other factors, can affect the timing of the final resolution of the case.
Investigating a truck crash has many components, including investigation of the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck, and the accident scene.
Truck Driver – It is important to examine the truck driver’s training, employment history, and driving history. The driver may or may not have had previous accidents or employment problems. Examining the truck driver’s logs may help determine if the driver took appropriate rest breaks. If the truck had an automatic on-board recording device, its data should be obtained and reviewed. Of course, a careful examination of the truck driver’s actions in the crash is essential.
Accident Scene – Reconstructing a trucking accident can be like putting a puzzle together. Visiting the accident scene yields important information. Experts can examine points of impact, skid marks, and other evidence to help piece together speed and other factors involved in the collision.
Truck and Trailer – Examination of the tractor-trailer itself can yield crucial information. Trucking companies are required to comply with numerous Federal regulations concerning the mechanical condition of a truck, trailer, and their mechanical systems. For example, a determination that a truck’s brakes were not adequately maintained might be revealed.
Trucking Company – Many trucking companies operate with the best of professional intentions. Others might take more risks or cut corners which affect safety. The trucking company’s records can be investigated to determine if the company properly trains drivers and checks their backgrounds before hiring them. Records might also disclose whether a company continued to employ a driver known to be dangerous.
Victim’s Injuries and Other Damages
Following a crash with a semi-truck, a victim may have serious injuries. If a case is resolved too quickly, the extent of those injuries and the needed medical treatment may not be fully known. Similarly, if injuries limit a victim in other ways, such as the ability to work, time is needed for medical experts to determine the extent of the injuries and whether the victim will be able to work in the future.
Occasionally, insurance issues arise, especially when there are numerous victims, vehicles, and insurance companies involved. For example, insurance companies may disagree as to legal issues, such as which policy is primary. Sometimes these issues have to be resolved through the courts.
Oregon law provides procedures to obtain information from other parties. Lumped together, these procedures are called “discovery.” In complex cases, discovery is more complicated and takes longer to complete. Examples are depositions of parties, witnesses, and experts.
Contact an Experienced Semi-Truck Attorney
Semi-truck cases can be complicated. Serious injuries often result. Investigation of the accident, the truck, truck driver, and trucking company must be undertaken. Numerous federal and state laws can come into play. If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, please contact us for a free consultation. The attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are experienced in semi-truck crash investigations and can help answer your questions.