Portsmouth, NH Truck Accident Attorney
Sherman Law employs extensive expertise to assist clients that have sustained injuries from truck accidents. Our knowledge gained from working with insurance companies and trucking businesses gives us the ability to take a comprehensive approach to preparing personal injury and wrongful death claims on our clients’ behalf.
Those who survive truck accidents are often dealing with very serious, often debilitating circumstances such as traumatic brain injuries and paralysis. We work to help them receive the compensation they deserve. This is not only needed for closure, but is necessary to help survivors manage the financial impacts and added expenses such as medical care, rehabilitative care, and accommodations to the injured person’s home and life-care needs.
In addition, when a client is coping with the loss of a loved one following a fatal trucking accident, we guide him or her through a wrongful death claim to recover compensation for the family’s lost income, funeral expenses, and other damages.
Sherman Law pursues liability for trucking accidents caused by:
- Negligent driving
- Negligent hiring and supervision
- Driver fatigue
- Speeding or reckless driving (to meet delivery schedules)
- Defective parts or negligent truck maintenance
- Other negligence by truck drivers or trucking companies
Truck accidents can be very complicated situations. Usually, several people and businesses are involved in owning, maintaining and driving the truck. Each of these entities usually carries insurance covering different types of liability and providing different coverage limits. Many times truck drivers are employees of the company that owns the tractor and trailer. Sometimes, however, the truck drivers are independent contractors hired by freight companies to use tractors they own while pulling trailers owned by either the freight company or a third party. In this instance, the drivers usually have their own insurance coverage and there is also a separate insurance policy for the tractor and the trailer. If a trailer is loaded by another entity, such as a dock or materials provider, this entity also may have insurance that covers its actions especially when how it was loaded proves to be a contributing factor to what caused the accident.
The amount of insurance coverage is likely to depend on several factors including the size of the truck, its weight, what is being transported, and whether the vehicle is traveling between different states. In the case of interstate trucking, federal laws include many requirements regarding insurance, maintenance, and driver safety.
These and other factors make navigating the legal issues associated with a truck accident quite complicated. It is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney well versed in these types of cases.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Truck Accidents
Q: What should I do immediately following a truck accident?
A: Ensure your own personal safety and, if possible, the safety of passengers within your vehicle. Contact the police. Unless your safety depends upon it, do not move your vehicle unless and until instructed to do so by responding law enforcement.
If, after doing these things you are physically able to do so, taking pictures of the accident scene from different perspectives can be a very helpful. If possible, document the following:
- All vehicles involved
- Weather and road conditions
- Lighting on the road
- Any physical injuries
- Witnesses to the accident showing their cars and license plates
If possible, note the details of the truck. Does it have a company logo? Does the truck appear to be in good condition? Are the tires in good shape? Is it carrying a load? If so, how is the load secured within the trailer? Also, be observant of the driver. Does he or she seem fatigued or impaired in any other way? Is he or she being cooperative or combative and defensive?
As explained below, if you sustained an injury or even believe that you might have sustained an injury, seek medical attention.
Q: Who will pay my medical bills if I require medical care or treatment?
A: If you’re injured or are not sure if you sustained injury but think you may have, seek medical attention right away. Often, adrenaline within the body may mask physical pain in the immediate aftermath of an accident. Once this wears off, you may start to feel soreness, tightness and pain. If this starts to occur hours or even days after the accident, therefore, it should be an indication that you should see a medical care professional.
Medical care providers usually ask how you were injured. There are several reasons for this including the provider obtaining a full understanding of the mechanism of injury as well as the provider identifying available insurance coverage for your treatment.
Clients often ask if they should identify and bill this medical care and treatment through their own health insurance even when the accident was clearly the fault of the truck or company that owns it. Usually, the answer is yes. You should identify your health insurance to the provider. If your health insurer pays bills that later are used as the basis to recover damages against the responsible party, your health insurance is likely to have the right to be repaid a portion of the bills that it paid on your behalf. This is called a medical lien. Your attorney should help you resolve this issue by negotiating, if possible, the lien repayment amount.
Q: Is the driver or the trucking company responsible for the accident?
A: Fault for an accident can be attributed to one or several different people or companies. It could be because of driver inattention or fatigue. It could be because the owner of the truck failed to maintain it properly. It could be a combination of these things. Sometimes, companies have knowledge of a driver’s inattention or fatigue and can be held responsible for entrusting their vehicle to the driver. Determining fault in the accident will vary depending on each individual situation.
Q: Should I give a statement to the trucking company’s insurance adjusters or answer questions from the police?
A: This depends. In the best situation, you should consult with an attorney and obtain his or her assistance before talking with anyone, other than medical care providers about your injuries, about the accident. This is not, however, always possible, especially when the police are at the scene of an accident and trying to discern what occurred. If you answer questions from the police, it is best to stick to the facts of what you actually know occurred. If you do not know something or cannot remember something, say “I do not know” or “I cannot recall that.” Do not, for example, speculate about what you think may have happened or what you think may have caused the accident.
If, after the accident, you receive a call from an insurance company representative – even your own – we recommend that you consult with an attorney before speaking with this person. Insurance company adjusters are trained and skilled in asking questions in a particular way to evoke responses that help minimize their potential coverage exposure for the accident. Many times the extent of personal injuries are not well known immediately after the accident. For this specific reason, adjusters frequently call shortly after an accident to elicit a statement from you that helps them at a time when you really do not know the extent of harm you may have sustained.
Frequently, we see clients trying to be helpful in responding to questions by advising that they are “doing OK” or that they “are fine” when they really do not know if this is actually true. Later, after the adrenaline from the accident has dissipated, they experience pain, tightness and range of motion problems. Although we always report this to the insurers when it becomes known, invariably the insurers respond that the client advised that he or she was “OK” or was “fine” and therefore deny responsibility for the later identified injuries even when they may be reasonably related to the accident.
The point, therefore, is that you are best protected by referring your matter to an attorney as early in the process as possible.
Q: Are there certain laws that apply to truck drivers?
A: Yes. Each State has its own set of laws pertaining to trucks, trailers and commercial drivers. When a truck is driven interstate (between different states) federal laws and regulations adopted by the Department of Transportation (DOT), Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also apply. Some of these include:
- Proper training
- Driver required physical examinations and medical clearance
- Restrictions regarding daily and weekly hours drivers can work
- Yearly commercial driver’s license (CDL) renewal
- Vehicle weight checks at highway weight stations
- Insurance coverage limits and requirements
An truck accident attorney experienced in handling these matters will be able to determine what laws apply, what each means and whether any may have been violated in a way that caused or contributed to the cause of the accident.
Applying Our Expertise to Your Unique Situation
Before starting his own firm in 2005, Attorney Sherman was an attorney and partner at one of the largest law firms in New Hampshire handling many complicated and complex cases. He understands the interplay of statutes, regulations, laws and insurance as they pertain to the complexities of truck accident litigation. Whether a case involves an 18-wheeler, a semi-truck, a tractor-trailer or any other type of commercial vehicle, he is knowledgeable about the many areas of negligence and violation of trucking safety regulations that frequently result in these catastrophic accidents.
Get the Help You Need
If you or a loved one has suffered due to a truck accident or big rig crash, we invite you to contact our Portsmouth offices for a free consultation and professional legal advice. As is always the case, if we can help you we will. If we cannot, we will do our best to direct you to someone who can.