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New Orleans Truck Accident Attorney

When commercial trucks collide with smaller vehicles, the smaller vehicle usually sustains more damage. This is because 18-wheelers, big rigs, and other commercial vehicles have a significantly greater mass than almost any other vehicle on the road. 

A semi-trailer or tractor-trailer, when fully loaded, can easily weigh 20 or 30 times more than a passenger car; they are also much higher off the ground, which can result in small passenger vehicles getting pulled under trucks in a crash. Anyone in a car, small truck or SUV, on a motorcycle or bicycle, or in the path of a commercial truck as a pedestrian can be severely injured or killed in a collision.

Unfortunately, getting fair compensation for the losses you suffer in a trucking collision isn’t usually as simple as it should be. It is very common for insurance companies to either deny accident victim claims altogether or make an offer that is well below the actual value of your claim. 

If you were injured or lost a loved one in a large truck accident, our New Orleans truck accident attorneys can help. Our personal injury lawyers understand the motor vehicle accident laws in our state and how to negotiate with the insurance companies to get you compensation for your injuries.

18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys in New Orleans 

At the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC, in Gretna, we represent people throughout Louisiana who have been injured due to the negligence of commercial vehicle drivers and their employers. In court and in negotiations, we fight to get our clients the justice and compensation they deserve following a serious truck or car accident in Louisiana.

Our New Orleans accident lawyers hold negligent truckers and trucking companies accountable. We seek full compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and other damages resulting from truck accidents. 

semi-truck driving through the desert at sunset

What Are Truck Accidents?

A truck accident is any motor vehicle accident involving a commercial truck or tractor-trailer. These vehicles are exponentially larger and far more dangerous in collisions than smaller passenger vehicles. When a trucking accident occurs, it is also likely to have a very high chance of severe injuries, significant property damage, and multiple drivers with claims for damages. 

Determining liability for some trucking accidents is difficult. A truck accident attorney can help you navigate your legal options for recovery after a truck accident and identify the parties responsible for your damages.

Common Types of Large Truck Accidents

The top four types of accidents involving large trucks are:

  1. Tire blowout accident. A tire blowout can cause a truck to swerve or crash their vehicle, which can result in very serious collisions with other vehicles or pedestrians. Tires are susceptible to blowouts when they are very worn down or when not filled to manufacturer specifications.
  2. Underside accident. Because of the height difference between large commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, smaller vehicles sometimes end up underneath the back end of a truck or trailer. Typically, an underside accident happens when the driver must suddenly brake very hard and the vehicle following behind them doesn’t have enough distance to stop safely.
  3. Jackknife accident. Jackknife truck accidents are named after the jackknife, which folds closed. A jackknife accident is when a large truck folds because the trailer swings outward. It is common for the truck to come to a final stop in a position where the cab is facing a different direction than the trailer.
  4. Rollover accident. A rollover truck accident is when a truck crashes and ends up on its side. If a truck lands on top of another vehicle or if the contents inside are flammable or dangerous when spilled onto the ground; the injuries can be life-threatening. When a semi-truck is loaded improperly, it may be especially at risk for a rollover crash.

Why You Need an Attorney After a Trucking Accident

Even if liability is clear in your case, hiring an attorney means a better chance of success with your claim. Your attorney can gather evidence and represent your interests in court. They can also arrange for a comprehensive investigation of your case and coordinate expert witness testimony to support your position in settlement negotiations or during a trial.

Truck accidents can also involve a substantial amount of economic damages for the parties involved. This is another reason why hiring an attorney is the best option after any truck accident; another party may try to divert liability for the damages to you.

An attorney can help you mitigate potential comparative negligence. An attorney will also know to check for avenues of compensation you may not have considered on your own, further increasing the potential recovery from your claim.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Brake time. The amount of time that it takes for trucks to brake can be a factor in truck crashes. Loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and it’s even farther on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.

Fatigue. Fatigued truck drivers are at increased risk of being involved in a trucking accident. Federal hours-of-service regulations allow drivers of large trucks to drive up to 11 hours in a single stretch. 

Surveys indicate that many drivers violate the regulations and work longer than permitted, increasing the risk of a collision.

Driver error and negligence. The most common factors involved in commercial truck driving accidents are preventable errors and negligent behaviors on the part of drivers. Our law firm has represented clients injured in many of the following common scenarios:

  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Careless/reckless driving
  • Improper lane usage
  • Over-correcting the steering wheel
  • Stopping in a roadway
  • Improper following
  • Failure to obey traffic signs and signals
  • Erratic driving
  • Improper lane change
  • Improper turn
  • Overloaded trucks and unsecured loads
  • Truck drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol
  • Inattentive driving due to cell phone use, texting, or other distractions
  • Equipment failure due to inadequate maintenance
  • Failure to observe required rest periods and time off the road
  • Defective roads
  • Improper use of vehicle controls that interferes with nearby drivers
  • Sleeping at the wheel
  • Wrongful death collisions

Truck Driver Liability

Determining liability for a truck accident requires an examination of the case of the accident. The American Trucking Association recently reported that the majority of motor vehicle accidents involving commercial trucks and tractor-trailers and passenger vehicle drivers occur due to the actions of car drivers, not truck drivers. In fact, passenger vehicle drivers may be responsible for as much as 80% of all truck accidents.

Since commercial trucks and tractor-trailers are so large, they are capable of damaging multiple vehicles and causing damage across multiple lanes of traffic relatively easily in a serious accident. However, liability may not automatically fall to the truck driver. If a passenger vehicle driver causes a truck accident due to negligence, multiple other drivers could sustain injuries and property damage, and the initial negligent driver would bear responsibility for their resulting damages.

Truck drivers must hold commercial drivers’ licenses and complete all necessary training and safety courses. Truck companies must also ensure their drivers have the necessary amount of experience before sending them on routes.

Negligent driving from any party, improper cargo handling practices, dangerous road conditions, and even severe weather can all cause truck accidents. Anyone involved in a truck accident could sustain serious injuries, but, if possible, they should try and secure as much evidence and information as possible from the accident site before the police and emergency responders clear it away.

Skid marks in the road, the resting positions of the vehicles involved, a snapshot of the current weather conditions, and photos of your injuries immediately after you sustained them are all valuable pieces of evidence for future legal action. Determining the cause of a trucking accident requires a careful examination of the physical evidence available, but liability may still remain unclear even after an intensive investigation.

Trucking Accident Statistics

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the government agency responsible for the oversight and regulation of the U.S. trucking industry. The FMCSA sets clear rules and regulations for trucking companies, their drivers, and support personnel to ensure safe transportation of goods across the country. 

The FMCSA also collates accident data to develop new training methods, refine existing guidelines, and ultimately create safer conditions on U.S. roads.

  • Over a three-year period, the FMCSA found car drivers at fault for trucking accidents in nearly 85% of cases.
  • In 2016 alone, over 4,400 commercial vehicles and tractor-trailers were involved in fatal accidents. These accidents accounted for a total of 4,564 deaths that year.
  • From 2015 to 2016, the number of truck accident fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled increased by about 2%.
  • From 2009 to 2015 the number of accidents resulting in severe injuries increased by 62%, from about 60,000 in 2009 to 97,000 in 2015.
  • In 2016 about 119,000 truck accidents resulted in injuries.

These statistics from IIHS.org provide some insight into commercial truck accidents in 2018:

  • 4,136 people died in large truck crashes; 16% of those who died were truck drivers, 67% were passengers or drivers of cars and other passenger vehicles, and 15% were motorcyclists, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
  • 62% of those who died in large trucks were involved in multiple-vehicle crashes with another large truck.
  • Out of all motor vehicle accident fatalities, 11% were large truck crashes.
  • 74% of deaths in commercial truck collisions were accidents that involved tractor-trailers.
  • 52% of large truck crash fatalities happened on major roads other than interstates and freeways, with rural areas experiencing the highest number of commercial trucking accidents.
  • 50% of commercial truck accident fatalities happened between the hours of 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., compared with 30% of accident deaths that did not involve large trucks.

The following facts are from 2019 data shared by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS):

  • 97% of deaths from accidents involving a passenger vehicle versus large truck accident, were suffered by those driving or riding in the passenger vehicle.
  • 64% of those who died in large trucks were involved in multiple-vehicle crashes with another large truck – a 2% increase over 2018.
  • 12% of all passenger vehicle occupant fatalities and 22% of passenger vehicle occupant deaths caused by multiple-vehicle accidents, involved crashes with large trucks.
  • Among vehicle occupants who were killed in large truck crashes, truck accident fatality rates have decreased substantially since 1975. (Both the rate of passenger vehicle occupant deaths per truck mile traveled and the rate of large truck occupant deaths per truck mile traveled).

Who Is Liable for a Trucking Accident?

Liability for a trucking accident could potentially fall to one or more parties depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident.

  • The truck driver may absorb liability if the driver was under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, using the vehicle for purposes other than job duties, or otherwise acting outside the scope of employment.
  • The trucking company may be liable for a driver’s actions if the company failed to conduct required background checks, failed to properly train the driver, or assigned work to an unqualified or uncertified driver. Driver error can easily cause a serious trucking accident, and truck drivers have a higher duty of care on the road than other drivers due to the dangerous nature of their vehicles.
  • A product manufacturer would be liable if a faulty vehicle or vehicle part causes an accident. For example, if a truck recently had new brakes installed and they failed during their first use, this could indicate a defect. If the brakes were defective, liability for the damages from the accident would fall to the manufacturer. The manufacturer would also need to take steps to recall other products that share the defect.
  • It is possible for liability for a trucking accident caused by road damage to fall to the local, state, or federal government depending on the location and type of road. However, pursuing a lawsuit against any government entity entails unique restrictions, and the responsible government entity may have sovereign immunity against civil claims.
  • A third party such as another passenger vehicle driver could bear responsibility for your truck accident damages. If another driver lingered in a truck’s blind spot, drove aggressively, or otherwise caused an accident with a commercial vehicle that also damaged your vehicle and injured you, that driver is liable for your damages.
  • A distributor or shipping service provider may face liability if the company improperly packed a truck and let it depart with an imbalanced load. Tractor-trailers have higher centers of gravity than smaller vehicles and are therefore more vulnerable to tip-overs during sharp turns.
  • The party responsible for the truck’s maintenance could face liability if a foreseeable and preventable mechanical issue caused the accident or if the maintenance personnel failed to conduct appropriate vehicle maintenance in accordance with applicable regulations.

Ultimately, one or more parties may bear liability for the damages from a trucking accident. A plaintiff with a truck accident claim must refer to state law to determine how negligence applies, whether they bear any contributory or comparative negligence for the accident, and assess the total extent of his or her damages. 

Serious truck accidents can easily lead to expensive medical treatment, significant lost earnings from missed time at work, and tremendous pain and suffering. The right attorney can help an injured driver secure the compensation he or she needs to recover from a serious truck accident.

Personal Injury Laws in Louisiana that Affect Your Truck Accident Claim

The laws that affect personal injury lawsuits and claims vary from state to state. If you were injured in an accident in Louisiana, here are some of the laws to understand:

  1. Louisiana is a ‘direct action’ state

In most states, lawsuits are filed against the negligent driver who caused the accident.

Under the Louisiana Direct Action Statute, a plaintiff is entitled to bring a direct action against a defendant’s insurance carrier, as long as the policy was issued or delivered in Louisiana or the accident or injury occurred in Louisiana, and the policy covered the risk. 

The statute also enables a plaintiff to bring an action solely against the insurance company if their customer (the at-fault driver) is bankrupt, insolvent, an uninsured motorist, or deceased; also if the accident happened between children and their parents or between spouses, or service of process cannot be made on the insured.

  1. Louisiana’s statute of limitations is one year

As the injured party in a truck accident, you have one year from the date of the accident to file a personal injury and/or property damage claim in Louisiana. This is why it is so important to contact a New Orleans truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.

  1. Louisiana uses a “pure comparative negligence” system

In Louisiana motor vehicle injury cases, fault and liability for an accident can be divided based on each driver’s relative liability or percentage of fault in the accident. In practical terms, this means that if you were injured in a truck accident that you were partly at fault for causing, you will be able to recover damages. However, the compensation you are entitled to will be reduced by your percentage of fault. 

If you were partly at fault for an accident, it is especially important to seek help from an experienced accident attorney who can fight to get you fair compensation for your losses.

What You Need to Know About Damages in Louisiana Truck Accident Cases

Some of the most common types of damages that can be recovered in a Louisiana truck accident case are medical bills, lost wages, pain, and suffering, property damage, and disability. If you lost a loved one in the accident, you may also be entitled to wrongful death damages including funeral expenses, etc.

Unlike in many other states, there is generally no cap on the damages you can potentially recover from an automobile accident in Louisiana.

When a settlement is reached in Louisiana, the at-fault party’s insurance provider typically pays the claim up to their customer’s policy limitations. Once that has been exhausted, the injured party’s insurance may cover an additional amount under an underinsured motorist provision, if the circumstances of the accident meet the policy’s criteria. 

After that, the plaintiff may choose to file a lawsuit – typically with the help of a truck injury attorney – to recover any remaining damages less the percentage of fault that has been attributed to the plaintiff for causing or contributing to the accident.

Get the Compensation You Deserve With the Help of a Louisiana Trucking Accident Attorney

It is always best to contact a local accident lawyer for a free consultation if you are in a truck accident. They can assess the cause of the accident to determine fault, the severity of your injuries, and the amount that your claim is worth. 

If the insurance company has offered a settlement, it is highly advisable to have it reviewed by an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney before accepting the offer. Insurance companies are known for making low-ball offers that do not even cover all your medical expenses, let alone other damages.

Learn more about the steps you should take after a truck accident or call our legal team for more information about our legal services. In a free consultation, an attorney at our firm can review your case, provide legal advice about your rights, and discuss how the Law Office of John W. Redmann, LLC can assist you. 

There are no upfront costs or fees paid by our injury clients to pursue an injury claim; we provide representation on a contingency fee basis for personal injury cases, which means you pay nothing unless we win you a settlement.

We want to help you get all of the compensation you deserve. For a case evaluation or to schedule a free initial consultation with a New Orleans truck accident attorney, contact us online or by calling (504) 500-5000. We value the attorney-client relationship: John W. Redmann will personally speak with those who wish to call or see him.

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