Representing Victims of Truck Accidents in Tennessee
Have you or a loved one been hurt in a trucking accident? Anyone who has been injured in any kind of auto accident should seek prompt legal assistance to help them recover damages. When a collision involves a tractor-trailer or any other large commercial vehicle, however, the stakes can be much higher, and the case is likely to be far more complex than a straightforward car crash. Truck accidents come with additional complications such as multiple layers of ownership, insurance coverage, and liability, which can sometimes exceed the scope of what a traditional personal injury lawyer is prepared to handle. You need to hire an attorney who is deeply familiar with trucking law and will fight to get you just compensation.
At The Hamilton Firm, we have a proven track record of successfully taking on negligent truck drivers, trucking companies, and their insurers in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. Much of our firm’s work is focused on this area, and we are committed to helping injured victims and their families hold responsible parties accountable and recover the compensation they need to get their lives back on track. Our Chattanooga truck accident lawyers have nearly a century of combined legal experience and have recovered over $100 million for our clients through settlements and judgments.
Through our aggressive, strategic, and ethical representation, we aim to ensure you receive all of the compensation you deserve after suffering harm in a truck accident. We also emphasize a personal touch in our practice, meaning your case will have our full attention, and you will communicate directly with one of our attorneys from beginning to end.
Not only is there no upfront cost to you if we take your case, but our firm only gets paid if we win or if you receive a favorable settlement. Contact us online or call (423) 454-3288 to schedule a free case evaluation today.
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For decades, our team at The Hamilton Firm has been helping clients hold the trucking industry accountable. Much of our experience has been gained through investigating and filing claims and lawsuits against U.S. Xpress and Covenant Transport, two of the nationwide interstate carriers based in Chattanooga.
Our Chattanooga truck accident attorneys are prepared to represent you in cases involving:
We understand that time is of the essence when it comes to investigating a truck accident on your behalf. When we take your case, our dedicated legal professionals will cover every aspect of the accident investigation, from gathering and preserving evidence to interviewing witnesses, police, and emergency response personnel.
Our team at The Hamilton Firm understands how to strategically navigate these matters and has a proven track record of successfully fighting the trucking industry. No matter your circumstances, we will act fast while maintaining meticulous attention to detail.
How Are Truck Accident Claims Different from Other Personal Injury Cases?
Wrecks involving tractor-trailers, semis, big rigs, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles often cause severe injury or death. A typical fully loaded tractor-trailer is massive, often weighing up to 80,000 pounds. The energy contained in these huge vehicles is enormous, especially when they are traveling at high speeds. They are slow to accelerate and decelerate, and they require extra time and space to change lanes, complete turns, clear intersections, and maneuver.
Truck accident cases are seldom as straightforward as a car accident claim, as multiple layers of vehicle ownership and insurance coverage can complicate liability. Achieving success in these claims tends to require a higher level of hands-on experience, commitment, and resources.
Some of the other differences between truck accident claims and car wreck cases include:
- Much more is at stake in a trucking accident, as the resulting injuries are generally more severe and life-altering
- A driver of a commercial vehicle is supposed to be screened, qualified, and professionally trained
- Additional laws apply to commercial vehicles, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
- Trucking companies have ample legal resources they will use to escape accountability
- Truck drivers and trucking companies are subject to different insurance coverage requirements
In a car wreck, you will typically only need to consider what role the other driver played in causing the accident, such as whether they failed to observe traffic laws, drove on too little sleep, drove while intoxicated, or behaved recklessly. Accidents involving trucks or other commercial vehicles often involve more than one at-fault party, making ascertaining liability a complex endeavor. You will need to consider who employed the driver, who owns the truck, whether its cargo was properly loaded, and whether the vehicle was adequately maintained and inspected, among other factors. Accurately determining liability in these cases typically requires a thorough understanding of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR).
In many of these cases, the driver could work for one company, the truck is owned by another company, and could have been loaded for shipping by another. All possible defendants and sources of recovery must be identified, investigated, and sued.
Parties to a truck accident claim can include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company or broker
- The owner of the vehicle
- The shipper or warehouse involved in the truck loading
- The truck or vehicle component manufacturer
- Parties responsible for vehicle maintenance, repairs, and inspections
- Insurance companies for various parties
A commercial truck driver can and should be held to a higher standard of care than the driver of an ordinary passenger car or pickup truck. For instance, FMCSR § 392.14 requires a commercial driver to exercise extreme caution and to reduce speed when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Additionally, FMCSR § 392.3 prohibits the operation of a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s ability or alertness is impaired, or so likely to become impaired, due to fatigue, illness, or any other cause, so as to make it unsafe for him/her to operate the tractor-trailer.
Although federal regulations require a trucking company to be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and to display a DOT number on the tractor, the driver may not even be an employee of that trucking company. They may be an independent owner-operator, or they may be employed by someone else and just be leased to the company whose logo is displayed. Sometimes leases are arranged for one trip only.
Brokers are often utilized to match companies, drivers, and loads, and there may be several entities involved between the driver and the shipper. Shipping commodities, containers, and cargoes in interstate commerce is often a complex and confusing business involving hidden participants and unknown entities.
Such companies will use a variety of legal devices to try to shield themselves from liability for accidents on the highways. All too often, when a bad wreck occurs and someone is severely injured or killed, no one involved in the selection, training, or supervision process is willing to accept responsibility for the catastrophic event. To achieve success in such cases, working knowledge of federal law and complex federal regulations (FMCSR), as well as applicable state law, is essential, along with actual experience fighting the trucking industry. Our Chattanooga truck accident lawyers are well-versed in these matters and have the knowledge, resources, and drive necessary to identify all liable parties.
To recover any compensation through a truck accident claim, you must take legal action against the liable parties before the applicable state’s statute of limitations expires. The time limit will vary: In Tennessee, you have only one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, while in Georgia and Alabama, you have two years. Should someone perish due to truck accident injuries, qualifying parties have one year from the date of the victim’s passing to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Tennessee and two years to bring a claim in Georgia or Alabama.
You will be barred from recovering any damages if you do not file in time, so do not wait to discuss your legal options with our team at The Hamilton Firm. As part of our investigation into your case, we will assess your damages and walk you through what you can expect to recover.
We will make every effort to get you full and fair compensation for all economic and non-economic losses, including:
- Past, current, and future medical bills and expenses
- Ongoing or permanent disability
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Vehicle and property damage
- Loss of consortium
To exhibit the highest degree of ethical conduct in accordance with the Code of Professional Responsibility.
To preserve the client’s confidences learned during the lawyer-client relationship.
To work with other participants in the legal system to make it more accessible and responsive.
To respect the client’s decision on the objectives to be pursued in their case, as permitted by law and the rules of professiona
To keep clients informed and provide them with copies of important papers.
To return phone calls promptly.
To charge a reasonable contingency fee and to explain in advance how that fee will be determined and how expenses will be paid.
To handle their legal matters competently and diligently, in accordance with the highest standards of the legal profession.
To treat clients with respect and courtesy.
In the United States, any licensed attorney is authorized to represent a person in a case arising in the state where the attorney practices. Of course, you would not ask your family doctor to perform brain surgery on yourself or a family member, and you should not expect your “family” lawyer, or the lawyer who prepared your will or handled your divorce, to have the level of knowledge and experience required to successfully navigate a complex trucking lawsuit. An optimal truck accident attorney is a seasoned trial attorney who focuses on serious and complex cases involving tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles, and they should ideally have the credentials and track record to back it up.
Beware of solicitations from unqualified lawyers! We cannot stress enough how important it is to be wary of and avoid lawyers who may be unqualified or act unethically. This applies to their qualifications and the manner in which they offer their services to injured clients. In some cases, individuals may pose as investigators but are really soliciting on behalf of an attorney or law firm. While accidents on the road are a matter of public record, an attorney should not be contacting you in person, over the phone, or by email unless you reached out to them first.
When you are considering whether to hire an attorney to assist with your truck accident claim, review their case results and ask questions. Are they prepared to advance the money necessary to hire an accident reconstruction expert early in the case? Do they know who to call to get the ECM data from the car? Do they know how to obtain post-accident inspection reports from state authorities? Are they prepared to travel all over the country to take necessary depositions of the driver, the safety director, or the company CEO? Do they know how to find and retain such other experts as the case may require, such as conspicuity experts, bio-mechanical experts, and safety experts? How many such truck accident cases has the law firm handled? What is their track record? Are they prepared to go to trial if a sufficient settlement can't be reached, and do they have a history of high compensation for their clients whether by settlement or verdict?
Our Chattanooga truck accident attorneys at The Hamilton Firm can confidently answer all of these questions. We understand how to effectively approach a wide range of truck accident and commercial vehicle cases. We take pride in the recognition and awards our team has received from the people we have helped as well as from our peers in the legal profession. Patrick A. Cruise is one of only four attorneys who has been Board Certified in Truck Accident Law by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and is a member of both the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Trucking Litigation Group and the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. Annette T. Kelly joined the firm in 2012 after years of defending insurance companies, and she has achieved outstanding results by bringing her knowledge of how defendants in these cases operate to our practice.
We know that injuries resulting from a serious accident can render you unable to travel, which is why one of our Chattanooga truck accident lawyers will visit you in your home or the hospital if you are unable to come to us. Call (423) 454-3288 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation today.