Operating a 40-ton big rig is a serious responsibility. When owners and operators are negligent, it’s usually the passenger vehicle drivers like us who suffer the most serious injuries.
In Louisiana, you have legal options to recover your rights. Accidents involving commercial trucks can leave you with escalating medical bills and crippling lost wages. But those financial burdens shouldn’t be yours to bear.
At Bianca | Matkins, we handle personal injury claims and wrongful death claims with expertise and compassion. If you were injured or lost a loved one in a semi-truck collision, a Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer is ready to hear your story.
I Was Involved in a Truck Accident. What Should I Do?
Commercial truck accidents can bring your normalcy to a screeching halt. If you or your loved ones suffered injuries in a commercial vehicle collision and you don’t know what to do, we recommend you start by following the guidelines below.
Seek Medical Attention.
Don’t let fear of medical expenses stop you from seeking the care you need. Most costs associated with medical treatment can be compensated by the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Severe injuries (like traumatic brain injuries) often go unnoticed at the accident scene. Even if you don’t think a trip to the emergency room is necessary, schedule an appointment with your doctor for a physical exam to rule out hidden injuries.
Stay Off Social Media.
A major event has happened in your life. It’s natural to want to share updates with friends and family through social media platforms. But this can be a big mistake in your truck accident case.
Even if your settings are private, insurance adjusters can find ways to access your accounts. Any information you post or comment on another person’s post can be used to undermine the credibility of your personal injury case.
Consult With an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer.
As soon as your health has been taken care of, schedule a case evaluation with a Baton Rouge truck accident lawyer. Many law firms in our area will offer you a free consultation. Whether you decide to pursue legal action or not, this is a vital opportunity to learn what you should do to protect your rights, financial stability, and future.
There is almost a 0% chance you can successfully file a claim against a trucking company and its insurer without the help of an experienced truck accident attorney. According to Louisiana civil code, you only have one year to build a case and file a lawsuit. Don’t let your right to take action be taken away by the clock. Learn your rights immediately so you can make an informed choice about your and your family’s future.
Refer Insurance Company Communications to Your Attorney.
Speaking to an insurance adjuster can be dangerous to your claim. Trucking corporation insurers can be aggressive, relentless, and unscrupulous in the tactics they use to shield their clients from liability and reduce payouts. You might think answering, “I’m fine” to an adjuster is the polite thing to say. But that could be used as a way for the insurance company to deny you compensation for medical treatment.
Don’t let your words be used against you. When the adjuster calls, refer all communications to your attorney.
How Can Filing a Truck Accident Claim Help Me?
Filing an accident claim or lawsuit is the legal means you have to recover the losses you suffered in the collision. When your injuries and financial damages were caused by the negligence of another party, they have a legal responsibility to bear those costs—not you.
This form of legal action is also a way to protect others by ensuring that the negligent party doesn’t engage in similar dangerous behaviors in the future.
Compensation for Victims of Truck Accidents
After a big rig accident, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Lost wages and benefits from the time you missed work.
- Medical bills for ambulance, hospitalization, and treatment costs.
- Future lost wages if you can’t go back to work.
- Future medical expenses for therapy, rehabilitation, and ongoing care.
- Pain and suffering after serious injuries.
- Property damage to your vehicle or other valuable items.
- Medical costs for mental health care after psychological and emotional injuries.
- Punitive damages in certain cases that warrant exemplary damages.
- Wrongful death benefits for family members after a fatal trucking accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer To File a Truck Accident Claim?
Truck accident claims are very different from car accident claims. You may have been involved in a crash involving passenger vehicles before and were even able to handle the legal process on your own. But dealing with a commercial vehicle insurance company is quite another matter.
Below, are just a few of the reasons truck accident cases are much more difficult to handle than car accident claims. It’s highly advised that you work with a qualified truck accident attorney before attempting to take on a powerful trucking company and its high-paid legal team by yourself.
You Could Have Catastrophic Injuries.
A catastrophic injury is a sudden injury that completely changes the course of your life. Devastating injuries like brain damage, paralysis, and amputation have an immeasurable impact on a person’s daily habits and livelihood.
In cases involving catastrophic injury, the stakes are much higher. An injured victim may amass millions in medical expenses over the term of their life. In situations like these, trucking companies have a strong motivation to protect their assets and do what it takes to deflect liability from their company.
There May Be Multiple Liable Parties and Multiple Insurance Companies.
There is often more than one party responsible for a truck accident. By the time a crash happens, numerous hands have been involved in the cargo shipping and transport process. There are countless factors that could have contributed to the wreck. Even an error made by a truck manufacturer months or years before the crash can be the key failure that causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle.
When a large commercial truck crashes and injures others, truck accident attorneys have the difficult task of examining the actions of multiple potentially negligent parties, such as:
- Truck drivers
- Trucking companies
- Truck manufacturers
- Shipping and loading companies
- The truck owner
- Drivers of passenger cars
- Government entities responsible for road maintenance and highway safety
With this many parties involved, you also need to examine, interpret, and utilize multiple insurance policies. One trucking company may carry numerous policies to protect various aspects of its business operations.
Conducting this level of research is incredibly difficult, time-consuming, and requires connections. Your truck accident attorneys will handle these things skillfully on your behalf, allowing you to focus on recovery.
A Truck Accident Lawyer Will Understand Federal Regulations.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has an extensive library of trucking industry regulations that big rig owners, operators, manufacturers, and dispatchers must follow.
In addition to local traffic laws, truck drivers have to adhere to rules governing things like:
- Pre- and post-trip inspections
- Weight limits by axle
- Hours of service limits to prevent driver fatigue
- Lighting, tires, and other equipment standards
- Emergency preparedness and response
- Rest and fueling requirements
- And much more
There are also city and parish-specific rules that truck drivers traveling through Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish need to be aware of. Your truck accident attorney will know and understand all the rules and regulations that apply to your case. If a driver or agency broke any of these laws, your legal representative from Bianca | Matkins will be aware of it.
How Do I Know What Caused My Truck Accident?
One of the jobs of your truck accident lawyers is to deeply investigate the cause of the traffic accident to determine liability. This means looking to see how the truck driver was operating the vehicle prior to the crash, what steps the trucking company had taken to ensure truck and driver safety, if other drivers on the road contributed to the accident, and much more.
When the Truck Driver Is at Fault
Driver error is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. A driver could have been negligent, careless, or reckless on their own accord. But in some cases, the driver was not equipped with the resources, training, and hands-on practice hours needed to be a safe truck driver.
The top five driver errors that cause truck accidents are:
- Distracted driving (driver inattention)
- Driver fatigue
- Inexperience leading to improper truck handling
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Careless driving in poor weather, traffic, or road conditions
When the truck driver is at fault through their own actions, it is still usually their employer (the trucking company) against which the personal injury claim will be filed.
When the Truck Company Is at Fault
Trucking companies send thousands of vehicles out on the highways of our cities. Motor carriers have a duty to ensure that both vehicles and truck drivers are road-ready and safe. If a car accident is caused by an unsafe fleet vehicle or driver, the company must be held responsible for its negligence.
Truck accidents caused by truck company negligence may involve:
- A truck driver who was assigned a grueling route with an unreasonable deadline
- Big rigs that were not well maintained, inspected, or fixed when damaged
- Inadequate training for truck drivers
- Lack of background checks when hiring new drivers
- Ignoring alcohol or drug violations, speeding citations, or other signs of a dangerous driver
How Will My Lawyer Prove Fault in My Baton Rouge Truck Accident Case?
It’s impossible to prove liability if you don’t know where to look for proof. The truck accident attorneys from Bianca | Matkins have the resources to hunt down and obtain the evidence we need to support our clients’ claims.
Evidence in Truck Accident Cases
Our accident lawyers may use evidence such as:
- The police report of the accident
- Photographs of the crash site
- Video footage obtained from dashcams, traffic cams, or nearby surveillance cameras
- Event Data Recorder (EDR) or “black box” data stored in the truck
- Physical damage to the truck and other property damage
- Driver alcohol and drug test results
- Driver cell phone records
- Trucking company records and documentation
- Electronic hours-of-service logs
- Proof of FMCSA rule violations
- Testimony from expert witnesses like traffic reconstructionists
Your Baton Rouge collision case is in the best hands when handled by a truck accident attorney from Bianca | Matkins.
We are trial lawyers who practice throughout the district courts of Louisiana, members of the Board of Governors for Louisiana Association for Justice, former officers in the Louisiana National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves, and local community members with strong connections to the experts and professionals who can help substantiate your case.
If evidence exists, we will find it and use it to make your claim as strong as possible.
Are Truck Accident Cases Handled the Same as Car Accidents?
For the reasons we have discussed above, truck accidents are much more complex than passenger vehicle accidents. Some of the biggest differences between a truck and car accident claim are:
- Truck accident claims usually take much longer
- A car accident claim is usually filed against one at-fault driver and their insurer, while a truck claim may be filed through multiple insurance policies
- The compensation awarded to truck injury victims may need to be much higher
- A big rig collision is more likely to involve a wrongful death claim
- There are more federal laws that apply to semi-truck accidents
Do I Need To Prove Negligence in My Truck Accident Claim?
Like other types of personal injury cases, your Baton Rouge truck accident lawyers must prove that one or more parties committed negligence that resulted in your injuries and damages. There are generally four elements that must be established:
- The other party owed you a duty of care.
- The other party violated that duty of care.
- You were injured as a result of this breach of duty.
- You suffered measurable damages from your injury.
Can I Still Recover Compensation if I was Partly at Fault?
Yes, injury victims can still recover compensation in a truck accident case if they were partly at fault. Louisiana follows a pure comparative negligence law (or comparative fault law), meaning that more than one party can share negligence. If you are partly responsible, your compensation amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
What Are the Most Dangerous Roads for Truck Accidents in Baton Rouge?
Here in Baton Rouge, we regularly see tanker-trucks traveling to and from oil refineries, long-haul truckers passing through, deliveries being made, and manufacturers sending local products across the country.
Some of the most dangerous routes in East Baton Rouge Parish include:
- Interstate 10 (I-10)
- Interstate 110 (I-110)
- Interstate 12 (I-12)
- Nicholson Drive
- Highland Road
- Burbank Drive
- Perkins Road
- Bluebonnet Boulevard
How Often Do Truck Accidents Happen in Louisiana?
The Louisiana Workforce Commission announced in 2022 that it would offer free truck driver training to qualified applicants through the “Drive Your Future” initiative. This program was designed to target the severe truck driver shortage plaguing our state and the nation as a whole. Consider these facts:
- Trucks move over 50% of the nation’s freight.
- Experts predict the industry will be short one million drivers by 2030.
- When companies lack drivers, hiring standards are loosened.
It’s no surprise that when there is a truck driver shortage, accident rates rise. This and other factors have combined to result in starkly increasing truck wreck rates throughout our region in recent years. The following statistics were reported in the 2021 Louisiana Traffic Records Data Report:
- The percentage of fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses in Louisiana increased from 11.8% in 2020 to 14% in 2021.
- In East Baton Rouge Parish, there was a 57.14% increase from 2020 to 2021 in fatal commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes.
- CMV injury crashes increased by 44.72% from 2020 to 2021 in East Baton Rouge Parish.
What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?
Semi-truck accidents have the potential to cause injuries even more severe than those commonly suffered in a car wreck. A tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds when loaded with cargo. To put that in context, it’s about 20-30 times the weight of a passenger vehicle.
With such a disparity in size and power, passenger car occupants rarely escape the devastation of a big rig accident with minor injuries. Common trucking accident injuries include:
- Broken bones
- Vital organ injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Permanent disability
- Facial injuries and blindness
- Head injuries and traumatic brain injuries
- Wrongful death
How Long Do I Have To File a Truck Accident Claim in Louisiana?
Each state sets its own laws for how long you have to take legal action after a personal injury. In Louisiana, we must follow a one-year statute of limitations.
Trucking accidents are highly complex and difficult to litigate. A year will pass very quickly. It’s best to get in touch with a law firm of truck accident lawyers as soon as possible to learn your rights and options under Louisiana personal injury law—before the statute of limitations expires, and you are left ineligible for compensation.
How a Baton Rouge Truck Accident Lawyer From Bianca | Matkins Can Help You
At our law firm, our accident lawyers believe that hard work is necessary for the best results. That’s why we give our all to every case we take. When your future is on the line, you need a truck accident lawyer who is willing to go the extra mile for you. You matter to us, and it shows in all that we do.
As advocates for Deaf rights in Baton Rouge, our ASL-fluent attorneys are also fully capable of assisting our friends in the Deaf community with Louisiana truck accident claims.
Contact our accident lawyers in Baton Rouge to schedule a free case evaluation.