Minot Truck Accident Attorneys
Helping Victims Injured by Commercial Trucks in Minot, Ward County, and across North Dakota
While any vehicle accident can cause catastrophic injuries or wrongful death, an 80,000 lb. tractor-trailer transporting a maximum load presents a far more serious danger to occupants of other vehicles. The unique physical characteristics of large trucks, which includes their massive length and weight, make these vehicles less responsive and more prone to causing horrific carnage in a collision. When large trucks are involved in fatal crashes, the victim who dies in the collision is the occupant of the passenger vehicle 97% of the time, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
While the trucking industry is heavily regulated to mitigate this inherent risk, these regulations can be thwarted by the non-compliance of commercial drivers often with the tacit approval of trucking companies. Victims of negligent truck drivers and their employers may have a right to compensation, but litigation of trucking accident cases tends to be more complex and sophisticated than most other types of vehicle collisions. Our Minot semi-truck accident attorneys at Sand Law PLLC have the legal acumen, experience, and litigation resources to take on large trucking corporations and their insurance companies.
Proven and Seasoned Ward County Tractor-Trailer Accident Attorneys
Our lawyers at Sand Law, PLLC are committed to standing up for individual victims of careless truck drivers and indifferent trucking companies. Our law firm vigorously fights to maximize the financial compensation received by casualties of the trucking industry and their families.
We also recognize that the legal process can seem foreign and complicated, so we focus on keeping clients informed throughout the life of their legal process. To further our commitment to providing the highest-quality legal services, we have adopted a goal of returning calls and emails within 24 hours, copying clients on correspondence, and providing periodic updates regarding case developments throughout a client’s entire case.
While most law firms promise exemplary service and zealous representation, we let our former clients and peers attest to our firm’s dedication to exemplary legal representation, client services, and ethical conduct. Designations and reviews that attest to our focus on doggedly pursuing the best experience and results for our clients include the following:
- Many 5-Star Ratings from Prior Clients Posted on Legal Portals and Websites Rating Professional Service Providers (See Facebook, AVVO (William Sand), AVVO (Richard Sand), Google Reviews;
- Rated 4.9 (5.0) Scale Based on Peer Review (Martindale.com);
- “AV Preeminent” (Highest Rating) Martindale-Hubbell;
- Designated “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers;
- Average Rating of “Excellent” from AVVO (Service Rating All U.S. Lawyers); &
- Selected “Top 40 Under 40” by Super Lawyers.
Why You Need a Trucking Law Firm
While the massive size and weight of a commercial truck justifiably draw significant attention, trucking accident cases are more than car accident claims involving a large vehicle. Trucking litigation involves unique and challenging issues that are not present in other types of vehicular accident lawsuits. Experienced and skilled trucking accident lawyers will have special expertise and experience with trucking safety issues, as well as trucking industry practices and regulations.
Studies conducted by insurance industry trade groups have found that a represented party tends to recover as much as 3.5 times more than an unrepresented party in a personal injury case. However, this difference would probably be far greater if only trucking accident cases were considered because of the sophisticated and specialized nature of trucking law and litigation.
Several reasons that big-rig injury victims benefit from working with an established trucking accident attorney include:
- Knowledge of unethical trucking industry practices, which include the destruction and manipulation of evidence
- Expertise in the complex matrix of local, state, and federal trucking laws and regulations
- The readiness of trucking companies to fight personal injury and wrongful death claims based on crashes caused by their drivers and vehicles
- Experience litigating legal claims involving catastrophic injury and wrongful death
Proving Liability in Commercial Truck Collision Injury Cases
While negligence will usually be the key theory of liability in a trucking accident injury case, the factual and legal issues tend to be far more complicated than those in the average car accident. Some of these special issues include:
Trucking Regulations/Negligence Per Se
Because of the inherent threat to public safety associated with large trucks, the trucking industry is governed by an extensive matrix of regulations. Commercial carriers (trucking companies) engaged in interstate commerce (i.e. operating across state lines) must comply with regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) while those operating solely within the state are subject to state and local regulations. Our law firm and knowledgeable industry experts that we retain to investigate trucking injury claims pay special attention to disregarded regulations. When a truck driver or trucking company engages in conduct in violation of one of these mandated requirements, the legal theory of negligence per se makes it easier to prove negligence.
Our law firm investigates potential noncompliance with these regulations in multiple areas that include:
- Hours of Service (HOS) – Anti-Fatigue Rules
- Vehicle Inspections and Maintenance
- Regulations Regarding Length, Weight, and Configuration
- Mandatory Documentation and Records
- Testing for Intoxicating Substances
- Proper Licensing and Qualifications
- Hazardous Materials Procedures
- Background Screening When Hiring
- Mandatory Accessory and Equipment Standards
- Rules Regarding Balancing and Securing of Loads
Spoliation of Evidence
The trucking industry has a notorious reputation for the alteration or destruction of evidence when facing a personal injury claim. Our experienced semi-truck accident lawyers promptly investigate all potential defendants and send a preservation letter informing each that they might have important evidence in their possession, which they have a duty to preserve. For example, the truck’s “black box” and the condition of the truck must be preserved because they often provide crucial evidence. This step is important because the trucking company and other recipients are put on notice that tampering with or destroying the items could bring a motion for sanctions in the form of legal fee awards or rulings adverse to their defense.
Gathering Evidence and Working with Experts
Although these tasks must be conducted when pursuing any traffic accident claim, the complexity and evidence preservation issues in trucking cases put a premium on experts and evidence collection. Along with accident reconstruction experts, medical and psychological experts, economists, vocational counselors, and others with specialized knowledge often used in car accident claims, we frequently work with transportation investigators, safety experts, engineers, commercial vehicle/truck mechanics, roadway design experts, metallurgists, and others with specific expertise related to the trucking industry. We also seek evidence from many sources to prove our client’s case, including but not limited to black box data; driver HOS logs driver fuel, tire, and lodging receipts; electronic communications between drivers and the commercial carrier; commercial driver personnel files; and inspection and maintenance records.
Prepared Defendants/Rapid Response Teams
Trucking companies anticipate that their vehicles and drivers will be involved in collisions that raise the prospect of liability for injuries and fatalities. Commercial carriers often have investigators that can be dispatched to analyze a collision site within minutes. The trucking company begins gathering evidence and building its defense as soon as this occurs. Injury victims need someone protecting their interest against these well-prepared and financed defendants as soon as possible.
Causes of Collisions Involving Large Trucks in North Dakota
Accidents involving commercial drivers and semi-trucks can be caused by factors like the following:
Commercial Driver Fatigue: Truck drivers must comply with Hours of Service (HOS) rules that limit behind the wheel time and the on-duty time of a commercial driver to mitigate the risk of fatigue-related collisions. Trucking companies may tacitly approve of such violations or even adopt compensation plans that encourage HOS violations.
Improper Semi-Truck Maintenance: Commercial carriers must perform and document vehicle maintenance checks. When a trucking company fails to conduct proper maintenance of its vehicles, such as brake and tire inspections, faulty equipment or inadequate vehicle maintenance can lead to a serious accident.
Lack of Proper Driver Training: Trucking companies have a duty to ensure their drivers are properly trained to competently operate large commercial trucks. For example, the braking distance of fully loaded tractor trailers is much longer than a passenger car, and big rigs have numerous large blind spots.
Distracted Truck Drivers: Truckers spend long hours engaged in repetitive activity that can create an incentive to multitask.
Improper Loads: When a large truck is overloaded or a load is not properly secured, the vehicle can become unbalanced or cargo can fall into traffic or on another vehicle.
Traffic Violations: Many of the same illegal driving practices that cause car accidents also cause accidents involving 18-wheelers that include, by way of example only, speeding, improper lane changes, tailgating, and failure to stop at a red light or stop sign.
Poor Route Selection: Route selection constitutes an important safety precaution because of the limited capabilities of large trucks. When a commercial driver selects a road with a steep grade, for example, this poor choice can lead to brake failure and a runaway truck.
Texting Truck Drivers: Although truck drivers are not allowed to text behind the wheel under North Dakota law, some commercial drivers still engage in this extremely dangerous practice.
Ward County Trucking Accident Injuries
The massive weight disparity between a semi-truck and a passenger car often means trucking accidents lead to serious or even catastrophic injuries. Some of the injuries that trucking accident victims experience include:
- Head Injuries: Head trauma during a semi-truck collision can lead to a brain injury even without direct trauma to the head due to sudden acceleration or deceleration. Injuries to the brain can lead to impaired sensation, cognitive deficits, altered personality, inability to communicate, impaired motor functions, and more.
- Internal Organ Injuries: Blunt trauma experienced in a semi-truck accident can lead to internal bleeding and damage to internal organs like the pancreas, kidneys, spleen, liver, or bladder.
- Spinal Cord Injuries (SCIs): Spinal cord injuries can cause quadriplegia or paraplegia.
- Rib and Torso Injuries: Impact to the rib area can cause devastating injuries because the ribs protect vital organs.
- Wrongful Death: The force generated by a 40-ton vehicle significantly increases the risk of suffering a fatal injury.
Compensation in a Semi-Truck Accident Lawsuit
Our Minot semi-truck accident lawyers investigate to obtain the documents and evidence needed to maximize the value of our clients’ claims and identify all sources of insurance. While the exact forms of damages in a commercial truck claim will depend on the specific facts and circumstances, some of the types of damages you might be entitled to receive include the following:
- Costs of hospitalization, medical treatment, and rehabilitation
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage (e.g. vehicle replacement/repair)
- Lost income and diminished earning capacity
- Cost of household help
- Expenses associated with modifying a home or vehicle to accommodate disabilities
- Loss of consortium
- Physical disability and disfigurement
- Other monetary and non-monetary damages
- Burial/Funeral expenses (wrongful death claims)
- Punitive damages (cases involving egregious conduct)
Speak with an Experienced Ward County Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a North Dakota accident caused by a careless commercial driver or an indifferent trucking company, Sand Law, PLLC offers a free consultation so that we can evaluate your legal claim and explain how to protect your rights. The attorneys in our law firm serve truck accident injury victims in Minot and throughout Ward County, North Dakota. Call us today at (701) 609-1510 or email us for a truck accident case review.