Fort Smith Truck Accident Lawyers
Have you or a loved one been involved in a truck accident in Fort Smith? After a crash with a truck, you may have numerous questions. What happened? Who caused the crash? Was there a mechanical defect? Who is responsible for this tragedy?
At the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A., we are a compassionate team of Fort Smith truck accident injury lawyers who are here to help accident victims on their road to recovery. Our lawyers will take the time to sit down with you and listen to your story because we believe the more we know about your case, the better we can help.
Arkansas Truck Accidents
Arkansas has many trucking companies headquartered in the state. With more trucking companies stationed in Arkansas, the chances of truck accidents increase.
Long-distance haulers have strict rules about the number of hours they can drive. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that truck drivers do not drive for more than 14 hours. Due to company instructions, the delivery time and the distance involved, some truckers push the limits to meet deadlines.
Types of Truck Accidents
Common truck accidents include, but are not limited to:
• Underride accidents
• Rear-end collisions
• Sideride collisions
• Rollover accidents
• Jackknife accidents
• Head-on collisions
• Blindspot crashes
• Tire blowout accidents
• Shifting cargo load accidents
Common Reasons for Truck Accidents
Most truck accidents are avoidable and preventable. However, drivers frequently fail to follow the rules of the road. For truck drivers, the long hours, delivery deadlines and fatigue can heavily contribute to crashes.
Some of the most common reasons for truck accidents include:
• Distracted driving: Texting, calling, watching videos, checking the GPS, doing log entries and other paperwork are deadly distractions.
• DWI/DUI: Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and often deadly.
• Drowsy driving: Fatigue contributes to numerous accidents. Many truckers skip sleep to meet their deadlines.
• Overloaded cargo: Overloading can throw the truck’s center of gravity, ultimately causing an accident.
• Poor or no maintenance: It is mandatory to keep a big rig in proper working order. When this is not done correctly or not done at all, accidents can happen.
Truck Accident Laws in Arkansas
Discuss your case with an experienced Fort Smith truck accident lawyer to understand how the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act relates to accidents involving trucks, big-rigs, or tractor-trailers.
Truck accidents are complex, and even if the defendant driver has insurance coverage, it may not be adequate to cover all the injuries sustained in the accident.
In truck accident cases, our Fort Smith truck accident lawyers identify other sources of insurance coverage, including underinsured and uninsured policies, employer’s policies, umbrella policies and even homeowner’s insurance.
Truck Accident Frequently Asked Questions:
How does a Fort Smith truck accident lawyer handle my case?
After a big rig accident, time is of the essence. Our team gets to the scene fast to determine the real cause of the crash. This is a top priority. The evidence at the scene needs to be secured, as there is the chance that some of it may go missing. Our team works with experts, including accident reconstructionists, to find evidence pointing to the specific fatal factors that led to the collision. The photographic evidence taken at the scene helps to prove the angle and speed of the crash.
We look at the design of the roadway where the crash took place and search for skid marks indicating the exact or approximate position of the vehicles. We look for other marks like gouge marks on the vehicles, debris from the crash and fluid stains, such as oil.
Once we have the evidence from the crash scene, we determine what rules and regulations were violated by the trucker, the trucking company or both. We immediately send requests to preserve evidence to the trucking company, as companies can destroy evidence according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) code.
What compensation do I get after a truck accident?
What you receive as compensation depends on the circumstances of your collision, how bad the injuries are, how long you are expected to be out of work and who is deemed to be at fault for the truck accident.
In Arkansas, you may be eligible to collect certain types of damages. Those include medical injuries, mental pain and suffering, property damages, lost wages, and possibly punitive damages. Property damages cover what damage was done to your car or other property that may have been involved in the truck accident. Medical costs cover hospital expenses billed to you for treatment at the time of the accident and ongoing expenses as necessary to care for your injuries. While not always awarded, punitive damages may be handed down if the truck driver acted with reckless disregard for your safety.
Who is responsible for a truck accident?
Truck accidents are incredibly complicated, not the least of which is the number of possible defendants that can be named in a wrongful or personal injury lawsuit.
Those responsible or liable for a truck accident can include:
• Trucker’s employer or employers
• Truck drivers
• Truck owners
• Truck lessees
• Trailer owners
• Trailer lessees
• Owners of the cargo
• The parent company of the trucking firm
• Truck’s manufacturer
• The owner and driver of another vehicle in a crash
• A third-party defendant, such as a maintenance company
Should I accept a truck company’s settlement offer?
Do not sign anything that the trucking company lawyers or insurance company send you. Insurance companies are not your friend. They have one concern and one concern only – making money to keep them in business. That means consistently reducing or denying claims, no matter how badly injured a plaintiff may be. The insurance company works to protect its bottom line and can use your own words against you.
Refer all calls, requests for interviews to your Fort Smith accident lawyer. If you have not yet retained an attorney, simply say you will have your lawyer call them back. Protect yourself and retain copies of all your medical records. Include all the information you can about any treatment you received at the crash scene, as well as pictures and eyewitness contact information, along with the police report. Do not miss doctor appointments, refuse treatment or not show up for any therapy prescribed, or the insurance company can make a case saying you were not hurt that badly.
Take everything you have to your Fort Smith truck accident lawyer. We will assess it and determine who is most liable for damages arising from the crash.
How long does it take to settle a truck accident claim?
Several issues can arise when working to settle a truck accident claim. Generally, five main factors go into determining a possible settlement.
Liability: Who was at fault for the accident. Damages are claimed by showing the truck driver and/or the trucking company’s unlawful behavior contributed to or caused the crash. The unsafe or negligent behaviors can include driving while distracted, not merging safely, improperly balanced cargo, tire blowouts, driver fatigue, brake failure, mechanical failure, DUI/DWI and traveling too close to another vehicle.
Types of injuries: Claimants with physical, emotional and property damage can seek compensation from liable parties. Some of the most common injuries include soft tissue injuries, short-term disabling injuries, spinal damage, permanent and long-term injuries, and death.
Insurance available: The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates semi-truck owners to carry at least $750,000 in liability insurance when hauling non-hazardous cargo. Some hazardous loads have a policy of up to $5 million minimum. States usually have other insurance requirements. Given that there are possibly multiple defendants involved in a truck crash lawsuit, other insurance policies may also be available.
The law: Arkansas is an at-fault state. This means the individual responsible (at fault) for the crash is also accountable for the damages. When there are multiple negligent parties in a truck crash, determining fault may become more complex and convoluted.
Many truck accident lawyers attempt to settle truck accident cases without taking a case to trial. If the insurance company pushes back at settling, there is the option to proceed to trial. Insurance companies do not like going to court, as they usually pay out more than they would if they negotiated a settlement.
Contact a Fort Smith Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one was recently involved in a Fort Smith truck accident, do not hesitate to reach out to the Law Office of Jason M. Hatfield, P.A. For more than two decades, attorney Hatfield and his dedicated team have served Fort Smith and the surrounding communities. As skilled negotiators, we can often resolve our clients’ cases without the need for a trial; however, we are also aggressive litigators and will not hesitate to take your case to trial if the insurance company is not willing to offer a fair settlement offer. To learn more and schedule a free consultation with a Fort Smith truck accident lawyer, give us a call today at 479-361-3575. Calling is free, and we will not bill you for our services unless we can help you recover compensation for your injuries.