If you have been injured in a collision involving an 18-wheeler or another heavy truck in Vermont, know that you're not alone and legal help is available to you.
At Lynch Legal Services, PLLC, we understand what you're going through. After a serious truck accident, you may be struggling to pay your medical bills, make up lost wages, and move on with your life. We strongly believe that you shouldn't have to bear the financial burden of injuries from an accident that you didn't cause. For 30 years, attorney David Lynch has worked to help people like you have a voice at a difficult and vulnerable time in your life.
While driving a truck can be a difficult job, many truck drivers travel safely on the road every single day. Of course, truck drivers and the people who work in the trucking industry make mistakes like the rest of us. But an error or an act of carelessness when operating a large commercial truck can lead to a crash that may forever alter your life.
We recognize how stressful the recovery from a truck accident can be for you and your family. Our purposely limited caseload allows us to make ourselves always available to you to answer your questions. Our down-to-earth, client-based approach is aimed at helping you understand your legal rights. We want you to feel comfortable, confident, and in control of your case.
Contact us today to set up a free and confidential case evaluation to speak with a Vermont truck accident lawyer. We'll discuss your legal rights and options and how we can help you fully recover after your accident.
You might think that truck accident claims are no different from any other kind of motor vehicle crash claim. In reality, truck accident cases often turn out to be far more complicated than an average car accident. Some reasons for that are:
- Truck accident victims tend to suffer more serious injuries. The force of an impact with a heavy commercial truck often at highway speeds tends to cause the occupants of the other vehicles in the crash to suffer serious, life-threatening injuries. Pursuing their truck accident claims more complicated because of the greater damages that they've incurred, and because they likely will still be undergoing treatment by the time their claim goes to settlement negotiations or trial. Any compensation award will need to include a fair estimate of the injured victims' expected future damages. Once a claim is resolved, you can't demand more compensation from the at-fault party at a later date.
- Truck accidents have more potentially liable parties. Multiple companies are usually involved in the trucking industry. A mistake or an act of negligence by any of these parties can trigger a catastrophic accident. The finger-pointing and blame-shifting by each party makes it hard to determine who actually has legal responsibility for the injuries and damages caused by the crash.
- More money is on the line. Because truck accidents often involve major losses and because the liable parties often carry insurance coverage with much higher limits, many truck accident cases involve much larger sums than a typical car crash. With so much at stake, you can count on the defendants to do everything they can to minimize what they have to pay out.
- Truck accidents can involve more evidence. Trucking companies are required by law to keep extensive documentation about their operations. These documents can provide a key insight into what caused a truck accident. This means that a great deal of evidence must be reviewed to ensure that the true cause of the accident has been found and the liable party or parties correctly identified.
Multiple parties and companies are required to get trucks and their cargo on the road. A negligent act by any of these parties can cause or contribute to a truck accident.
Parties that may bear all or some of the legal liability for injuries and damages arising from a truck accident could include:
- The truck driver, who can be held responsible if negligence or recklessness in operating the vehicle causes an accident
- The trucking company, which can be subjected to employer liability for simply employing the driver, for its own negligence for retaining and/or training the driver, or for instructing the driver to commit unsafe or illegal acts
- The truck's owner, if different from the truck driver or trucking company, when an accident is caused by a mechanical failure arising from deferred maintenance or other issues with the vehicle
- The freight company, when an accident is triggered by the truck's cargo load
- The truck's mechanic, who might be held responsible for negligently performed repairs or for failing to perform proper maintenance
- The truck's manufacturer, or the manufacturer of a part used in the truck, if a design or manufacturing defect causes an accident
Truck accident claims require review of many more pieces of evidence than the typical car accident involving two individual drivers. State and federal regulation of the trucking industry generates a lot of documentation that must be reviewed for evidence that can point at the true cause of a truck crash.
Examples of evidence that our Vermont commercial truck accident attorney might use in your case include:
- The truck driver's logs - Commercial drivers are limited in the number of hours they can spend behind the wheel during a day or week. Drivers must log the hours they work and drive, so the driver's logs might show that a driver exceeded these limits and may have been drowsy or fatigued at the time of the accident.
- The truck driver's toxicology report - When a truck accident results in serious injury or death, a truck driver may be required to submit to an alcohol and drug screening.
- The truck driver's employment records - A driver's records can show if he or she has a poor driving record, including prior accidents or traffic violations, or whether the driver had the appropriate training and experience to operate the vehicle.
- The truck's electronic data recorder - Many commercial trucks are equipped with devices that record information like the truck's GPS position, speed, number of hours the engine ran, and even driver steering, acceleration, and braking inputs. Much like a commercial airliner's "black box", this device can show what a truck and its driver were doing leading up to and during an accident.
- The load manifest - The load manifest might show whether a truck was unsafely loaded at the time of the accident.
- The truck's maintenance records - These records could show if maintenance was improperly performed or was altogether deferred.
- The truck's damage/repair report following the accident - Damage/repair reports might reveal if a truck suffered from a design or manufacturing defect.
We may review other evidence common to motor vehicle accident claims, like accident scene photos, police accident reports, and dashcam or surveillance camera footage.
With our firm, you can trust that we have the experience and resources to explore every avenue to determine how your accident occurred. We're ready to use our decades of experience as northern Vermont truck accident lawyers to identify the parties or parties liable to you for your injuries and damages.
The force that a heavy truck can inflict on a smaller passenger vehicle in a collision often leaves the occupants of that vehicle with serious and life-altering injuries. If you've been injured in a semi-truck accident through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to pursue full compensation for damages such as:
- Past, ongoing, and future medical expenses
- Costs of personal care
- Lost wages and income
- Lost earning capacity
- Lost quality of life
- Pain and suffering and emotional distress brought about by your injuries
You may also be entitled to recover compensation for property damage, such as the cost to repair or replace your vehicle involved in the accident.
Under Vermont's statute of limitations, you generally have three years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit for compensation for the injuries and damages you suffered in a truck accident. Injured minor children have three years from their 18th birthday.
If you do not file suit before the statute of limitations expires on your claim, the court will dismiss your claim permanently unless a rare and very narrow exception applies.
Being involved in a truck accident can be a jarring and disorienting experience. You may wonder what to do in the minutes, hours, and days following an accident, especially if you have been seriously hurt.
Taking the following steps can help start you on the path to recovery following your accident:
- If you or someone else has been seriously injured or appears in distress, call 911.
- If no one has been seriously hurt, contact local police, or Vermont State Police if on the highway, to have an officer respond to the scene to prepare a police accident report. Make sure you later obtain a copy of this report from the police department.
- Get the name, license information, vehicle registration information, and employer information from the truck driver. Also collect contact and insurance information from all other drivers involved in the accident. If any eyewitnesses saw your accident, get their names and contact information as well.
- If possible and safe to do so, take photos of the accident scene. Also photograph any visible injuries you sustained.
- Even if you don't feel like you suffered any serious injuries, get yourself checked out by your primary care physician or at an emergency room. In a physical examination, a doctor might be able to diagnose injuries that you didn't even realize you suffered.
Commercial trucks require a great deal of training, experience, and care to operate safely. While most truck drivers operate their vehicles with the skill required under Vermont trucking laws, even a momentary lapse in judgment can result in a catastrophic accident.
Some of the common causes of truck accidents on Vermont's roads include:
- Careless or reckless driving, including speeding, failing to signal turns or lane changes, failing to check mirrors and blind spots, and following other vehicles too closely
- Drowsy or fatigued driving, usually due to exceeding hours-of-service requirements under Vermont trucking laws
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
- Distracted driving, often due to looking at a cell phone instead of the road
- Unsafe truck loads, such as a load too heavy for the vehicle's capacity, an unbalanced or top-heavy load, or an unsecured load that can shift during travel
- Inexperienced truck drivers, who may not know how to handle a rig of a certain size or weight
- Unfamiliarity with routes, which can cause truck drivers to get lost and end up on streets or roads unsuited or unsafe for an 18-wheeler
- Inadequate or deferred maintenance, which can cause a catastrophic mechanical failure of a truck while on the road
- Design or manufacturing defects in the truck or truck parts
- Adverse weather conditions like snow, sleet, ice, or heavy rain (especially when truck drivers decide to drive too fast for road conditions), heavy fog or other low-visibility conditions, and nighttime or low-light conditions
Truck accidents can lead to significant injuries for those involved in a collision with a commercial truck. Some of the catastrophic injuries that result from truck crashes in Vermont include:
- Broken bones
- Burns, such as when a crash results in a fire, or road rash injuries if an accident victim is ejected from the vehicle
- Torn soft tissues, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Joint damage and dislocations
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
- Spine and spinal cord injuries, such as herniated or ruptured discs, or damage to nerve tissue that can lead to paralysis
- Head injuries, including eye trauma or fractured skull
- Traumatic brain injury
If you have suffered serious injuries in a truck accident that wasn't your fault, you shouldn't have to bear the financial burdens of expensive medical bills and lost income due to missed work. Our Williston, Vermont truck accident lawyer can help you pursue the recovery you deserve by:
- Performing a thorough, independent investigation of the accident to recover all available evidence, including driver logs, vehicle data, load manifests, and maintenance records
- Working with accident reconstruction experts to put together a strong, persuasive case that shows how your accident occurred and who bears legal responsibility for the crash and for your injuries and damages
- Identifying responsible parties and available sources of compensation, like trucking industry companies that often have layered insurance coverages
- Filing your claim for compensation with the at-fault parties and their insurers, and communicating with adjusters and defense lawyers on your behalf to seek fair and full compensation for your claim
- Preparing your claim to be filed in court as a lawsuit, if necessary, and advocating your claim and your story in court and at trial
Above all else, we want to help you reach a full recovery after your accident. Schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with Lynch Legal Services, PLLC today. You'll speak with a client-focused Vermont truck accident attorney about your legal rights and options. When you choose us to help with your case, we charge you no fees unless and until we win your case.