In this podcast, John Maher sits down with Robert Hartigan and Rob Mazow from Mazow-McCullough to talk about truck accident lawsuits. They look at the causes of truck accidents, examine the possible defendants in a truck accident lawsuit, and talk about the steps in filing a lawsuit after a truck accident.
John Maher: Hi. I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Rob Mazow and Robert Hartigan of the law firm, Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today, we’re going to be talking about how to file a truck accident lawsuit. Rob and Robert, welcome.
Robert Hartigan: Thanks, John.
Rob Mazow: Hey, John.
Types of Truck Accidents
John: So what are some different types of truck accidents that might happen out on the roads?
Robert: There’s a few that probably happen more often than not. You have your truck accident where the truck rear ends another car. There’s also times when a truck has pulled over on the road, but they’re not all the way over and so that’ll cause the driver to hit the truck. And there’s situations where there’s a tire blow out or wheel comes off the truck, causing the truck to lose control and hit another vehicle or multiple vehicles.
Rob: Yeah. We also sometimes see, and these are also equally terrifying, something coming off of a truck or something that’s not properly tied down. We’ve seen ladders fly off trucks. We’ve seen cars which were being towed go off. There’s really no limit to the kind of situations that can happen out on the road.
Do Trucks Jackknife?
John: Right. I know when I was younger, I used to hear a lot about trucks jackknifing. There’s 18 wheelers, when the sort of cab will end up turning half backwards but the momentum of the truck just keeps it going forward. That kind of … Does that still happen? I think trucks are maybe a little bit safer these days and it doesn’t happen as much.
Rob: Yeah. I think we see that less in these parts. What we see more in these parts and when I’m talking of these parts, I’m talking about Massachusetts and New Hampshire, are speeding or not using care in passing or not realizing that there might be a vehicle in a blind spot. And some of the incidents that Robert talked about, which was the tire blowout or what I’ve mentioned, which is the material coming off the vehicle.
Truck Accidents With Hazard Materials
John: With the materials too, sometimes trucks are carrying hazardous materials. Is that sometimes an issue, where the hazardous materials might actually affect the other cars or people around it?
Rob: So we see that a little bit less because those kinds of trucks can tend to be a little bit maybe more careful in the driving, but hazardous material can also be an oil spill. When a truck is in a crash, the EPA does have to come out and deal with the cleanup of what’s potentially a leaking oil or gas situation.
Causes of Truck Accidents
John: Right. So in addition to the types of truck accidents, what are some of the potential causes of truck accidents, things that actually cause the accident itself?
Robert: Yeah. The truck driver speeding, carrying too much weight, truck driver falling asleep, being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, texting, talking on the phone, eating while driving. So a lot of the same things that you see in regular car accidents. But again, there’s federal requirements for truck drivers that they need to follow. So there’s going to be times again, when the truck driver falls asleep or they’re distracted because they’re trying to rush to the next job.
Truck Drivers Not Following Regulations
John: Right. They’re supposed to pull over every so often and get rest and things like that. But sometimes the truck driver might not follow those regulations. Right?
Rob: Right. And it can be, if we dive deep enough, we can find out if a person has not properly stopped, they haven’t properly logged the material that they’re supposed to log. They haven’t stopped at way stations. I mean, all this stuff has to be, all the documentation has to be very rigid and very clear. So we are able to figure that out, if we need to, whether the truck driver hasn’t followed his or her company’s policies or the federal laws policies for that matter.
Steps in Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
John: Right. So what is the first step then in filing a truck accident lawsuit, if I’ve been involved in a truck accident?
Robert: Well, first right after the accident happens, you should reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. And the attorney will discuss with you whether the case should be filed in federal court or state court. There’s advantages to both. And then there could be a situation where you file in state court and then the defendant or defendants remove it to federal court because of the diversity of the parties and the violation of federal regulations. So that would be a conversation that you’d have with the attorney as far as strategy goes. But the first step would be to file the lawsuit, the complaint in court, and then discovery would ensue after that.
Identifying Negligent Parties
Rob: We also would need to figure out who’s coming into this lawsuit. Is it just an independent trucker? And so is it just that person that is involved? Is a trucker driving for a company? And if they’re an employee, do we bring the employer in? Of course, we do because they’re ultimately responsible for the actions of their employees.
Do we want to bring in where they were delivering to or where they were delivering from, for some reason? Would they get assistance from somebody at those companies? Let’s say, loading the truck and the truck wasn’t loaded properly. So there could be several defendants involved in this kind of case. We need to figure out who we want to bring in and why, and whether or not we’re going to be successful against any or all of these companies.
Robert: And as you do discovery and learn more about the case, there could be other defendants that are brought in after the fact. For example, if a wheel blew out or a tire blew out, going after the manufacturer, along with the truck driver and the trucking company.
Multiple Plaintiffs in Truck Accident Lawsuits
John: So you mentioned that there could be multiple defendants in a case. Can you have multiple plaintiffs as well? Where say there was a truck accident, but it involved half a dozen other vehicles. Did those vehicles all get together in sort of suing the trucking company or something like that? Or are those individual separate cases?
Rob: Yeah. Like many instances in our business, it depends. I mean, if we’re representing, let’s say, a family who was in a vehicle, God forbid, they all get hurt. They may all be named as plaintiffs in a case. Or let’s say a husband is hurt in an accident, but the wife is not in the accident per se. We may want to bring in the spouse for loss of consortium claim. It would be rare, well, not unheard of, if several different people in different cars consolidated into one case, but it’s possible. It depends on the severity of the case and what happens.
Damages in Truck Accident Lawsuits
John: And what are some of the damages that might be considered in a truck accident case?
Rob: Like any personal injury case, we’re going to be looking at general pain and suffering damages, repayment of medical bills. Depending upon the severity of the case, if there’s loss of limb or if there’s loss of life, we’re going to be looking at those kinds of damages. As I indicated before, a spouse can bring a loss of consortium claim or infliction of emotional distress claims. There’s scarring claims. The only limitation is based upon the facts of the accident. And of course, it’s case dependent as to what kind of claims we would bring.
Robert: Right. And also if it’s a wrongful death case, it could be conscious pain and suffering. There could be punitive damages because of gross negligence. So it does depend.
Contact an Attorney If You’ve Been in a Truck Accident
John: And that’s, like you said, that’s why you really want to have an attorney on your side to help you navigate all of those different areas to make sure that you’re potentially getting everything that’s due to you.
Rob: Yep. Exactly.
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information, Rob and Robert. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Rob: Thanks, John.
Robert: Thank you.
John: And for more information, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call (855) 693-9084.