Mullen & Mullen Law Firm won a Texas “Top 10” Truck Accident Settlement in 2020.
You Can Trust Our Lawyers to Fight for Your Rights in Commercial Vehicle Accident Claims
Recent Settlements in Commercial Vehicle & Truck Accident Cases
- $2,050,000.00 4th Largest Motor Vehicle Collision Settlement in Texas in 2019
- $1,330,000.00 Settlement for Commercial Vehicle Accident in Dallas
- $1,000,000.00 Settlement for Client Hit by Semi-tractor-trailer
- $962,500.00 Gross Settlement for Neck Injury in Dallas Trucking Accident
- $725,000.00 Gross Settlement for Injury Involving Surgery in Commercial Vehicle Accident
- $625,000.00 Gross Settlement for Back Injury in Commercial Vehicle Accident
- $574,000.00 Gross Settlement for Foot Injury in 18 Wheeler Accident
About Commercial Vehicle & 18 Wheeler Accident Claims
In big rig and passenger vehicles accident claims the stakes are usually very high. Our experienced truck wreck lawyers have the knowledge, skills, and financial stability necessary to take on the trucking company and their insurance carrier and recover compensation. We can make sure the at-fault driver and the company they work for are held responsible for your injuries.
If you were injured our semi truck lawyers will hold the driver and company accountable.
A private investigator hired by the trucking company could try and secretly video you.
Be mindful of the situations you place yourself in as you recover from your injuries, as they will use anything they can against you. Insurance companies know they have increased exposure when an semi-tractor-trailer or other commercial vehicle was involved in an accident that hurt someone. Their minimum liability insurance policies are typically $1,000,000.00 and thus most have stand-alone departments just to deal with commercial accident injury claims.
We employ an in-house private investigator, Mike Foster, who will quickly request a copy of the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report generated as a result of your commercial vehicle accident (if available).
Mike will take photos and video footage of all vehicles involved and of the accident scene. He will also attempt to locate any witnesses. And even if none are identified in the police report, he has been trained to canvas the scene for any and all potential witnesses.
Mullen & Mullen’s Dallas 18 wheeler attorneys will then interview and obtain affidavits from any located witnesses, and will also run public record database searches and utilize the FIA (Freedom of Information Act) to request various records associated with the wreck, the driver of the semi truck, and the company that employs the driver.
What organizations might have records related to my commercial vehicle accident, the 18 wheeler driver, or the trucking company?
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your collision, the following agencies may have documents that could assist your personal injury case:
- Texas Department of Public Safety
- United States Department of Transportation
- Federal Highway Administration
- Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- Federal Office of Motor Carrier and Highway Safety
- National Driver Register
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- National Transportation Safety Board
- Texas Department of Transportation
- Texas Transportation Commission
Our trucking accident lawyers routinely request documents from various government entities. If you retain us, we will quickly and efficiently secure any and all available documents that could be helpful to your case.
What rules and regulations are truck drivers and companies subject to in Texas?
18 wheeler drivers and trucking companies are generally subject to a substantial number of rules and regulations. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the following could be applicable:
- Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations
- State of Texas Hazardous Materials Regulations
- State of Texas Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
- Texas Transportation Code
Our Dallas 18 wheeler accident attorneys are knowledgeable in regards to various rules and regulations applicable to commercial drivers. We will identify any possible violations by the trucking company and its driver.
Filing Damage & Injury Claims with Insurance Companies After the Accident
When should you file claims for injuries and damages as a result of a commercial wreck?
You should set up various insurance claims as soon as you are able to after an 18-wheeler accident. Do not think that just because the truck driver said he or she was “sorry” at the scene, that liability will be accepted by the trucking company or its insurance carrier. Semi-tractor-trailer drivers operate on a point system and can lose their commercial driver’s license if they accumulate too many points. As a result, they will often have a strong motivation not to be truthful.
What claims should be established with the trucking company or your insurance company?
You might have several insurance claims to establish following an 18 wheeler wreck. Below you will find just a few of the potential insurance claims you may need to establish.
- Liability claim against the 18 wheeler driver (property damage as well as injury damages);
- Liability claim against the company the truck driver was working for at the time of the accident (property damage as well as injury damages);
- PIP monies through your own automobile insurance policy to reimburse your for medical expenses and/or money you have lost if you are unable to work; and
- MedPay monies through your insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance (Offset allowed if you obtain a settlement).
What are the typical liability limits in a commercial vehicle wreck?
The vast majority of policies will have insurance coverage in place of at least $250,000 per person / $500,000 per accident. Many times they will have coverage limits of $1,000,000 per person / $2,000,000 per accident.
Example: If three persons are injured in the same semi accident, and the at-fault driver’s policy limits are $250,000 per person / $500,000 per accident, the most any single person could get under the insurance policy is $250,000, and the most the liability carrier would have to pay out in total is $500,000, even if combined damages were well in excess of that amount.
It is very important to explore all potential sources of insurance coverage if you have suffered traumatic or life-altering injuries in an 18 wheeler accident. Our truck injury lawyers are adept at verifying whether the semi-tractor-trailer may be covered under separate insurance policies, thus maximizing your potential recovery.
Does it matter if the 18 wheeler driver was an independent contractor?
Yes. Employers are generally not liable for the negligent actions of an independent contractor. Texas follows the doctrine of Respondeat Superior, however, and companies are liable for the negligent actions (or omissions) of an employee, while said employee is in the course and scope of his or her employment for the company. For example, if you were injured in an 18-wheeler accident with a Swift Transportation truck, the driver and Swift Transportation would both be proper Defendants in a lawsuit.
The amount of available insurance proceeds could depend on whether the semi-tractor-trailer driver was an independent contractor (no coverage) or employee (coverage) of the trucking company. Our lawyers are familiar with the factors used to determine the status of the driver and can make legal arguments to establish the driver was an employee.
The company’s policy limits don’t matter if they have significant assets. For example, if you suffered devastating injuries due to a JB Hunt 18 wheeler, you wouldn’t need to be concerned with the insurance limits since JB Hunt has millions and millions of dollars that could be seized in a judgment.
Vehicle Repair and Replacement After a Commercial Accident
Should I take my car to the repair shop the trucking company’s insurance carrier recommended to me?
No way. The body shops recommended by their company’s liability carrier are recommended for an easy to guess reason, i.e. they charge less for repairs. The trucking company and its carrier want your automobile damage to be very low so they can argue you were involved in a “minor” collision. Have an estimate performed by the auto dealership or body repair shop of your own choosing.
Do you get a rental vehicle if you are involved in a commercial accident?
Yes. But usually only if your automobile can be repaired and isn’t totaled. If your vehicle is fixable and driveable, you can generally get a like and similar rental car for the amount of time it would take to fix your car. If it’s a total loss, then you may likely only recover the fair market value of your automobile and insurance companies do not generally reimburse you for the cost of a rental car.
Can you assist me with obtaining a rental car?
Yes, our semi accident lawyers can help you secure a rental vehicle while your automobile is being repaired, or while the liability carrier for the trucking company is determining whether your automobile is a “total loss”.
Can I recover damages for the diminished value of my automobile?
Yes, generally. Establishing diminished value often requires an Expert Report. On 18 wheeler accident cases, our Dallas truck accident law firm is happy to advance the money on your behalf to obtain an expert report, if the damage to your car warrants it.
How much can I recover for my vehicle if it is considered a “total loss” due to the car accident.
If your car is totaled following an 18 wheeler accident, then you can recover only the fair market value of your vehicle. The fair market value is measured by what similar vehicles are being sold for on the open market. Fair market value is not measured by Kelly Blue Book or NADA Book Value.
Securing a Law Loan if You Were Injured in a Commercial Vehicle Accident
Do companies exist that loan money based on securing an interest in your settlement?
Yes. However, many of these law loan companies charge a ridiculous interest rate.
Most law loan companies require you to be represented in order to qualify for a loan. Our legal team routinely help clients secure loans that charge a flat fee, as opposed to a continuously compounding loan. This sometimes saves our clients thousands of dollars.
Getting Necessary Medical Treatment
Should I go to the hospital if I have pain and discomfort after a commercial accident?
Absolutely. If you experience pain and discomfort following an 18-wheeler or other commercial accident, you should be safe and get examined. Large semi-tractor-trailers weigh thousands of pounds. It is better to be cautious and get examined, since the insurance carrier for the trucking company will use the fact that you didn’t go to the hospital against you, in an attempt to suggest you weren’t hurt bad enough to go.
What are some of the typical injuries people sustain in commercial vehicle accidents?
Our trucking attorneys have noticed that spinal injuries are very common in commercial accident injury claims. These spine injuries can be sprain/strain in nature or more objective, such as herniated discs or annular tears. 18 wheeler accident victims often need extensive physical therapy and pain management to make a full recovery from their injuries.
Semi truck accidents obviously can also lead to broken bones, fractures, muscle tears, and the necessity of spinal surgery. Our 18 wheeler accident lawyers in Dallas have assisted a significant number of clients who were injured in 18 wheeler accidents and needed surgical procedures performed, usually spinal fusions or discectomies. Through our relationships with medical providers, the clients were able to have the necessary surgical procedures performed at no up-front cost to them.
What happens if my health insurance carrier pays some of my medical bills following the wreck?
If your health insurance carrier or Medicare or Medicaid makes payments on your behalf for injuries related to your 18 wheeler or commercial vehicle accident, the carrier or agency is generally entitled to be reimbursed out of your settlement proceeds, a right known as subrogation.
The amount the carrier or agency is entitled to be reimbursed can differ, but our 18 wheeler attorneys are almost always able to secure a reduction of health insurance liens or workers’ compensation liens.
Do medical providers exist that have experience in treating victims of commercial accidents?
Yes. Many doctors refuse to treat patients who have been injured in Dallas 18 wheeler accident cases because they fear getting deposed or otherwise drawn into a legal dispute. But some healthcare providers do exist that are willing to give services for 18 wheeler accident injury victims.
Our big rig crash attorneys will assist you in securing any and all medical attention you require following the collision. Mullen & Mullen Law Firm has been in business for 40 years and we have strong relationships with various healthcare providers who primarily assist people that have been injured in truck accidents.
Upon your request, our attorneys in Dallas can help you locate a local doctor who will delay billing you for medical services until the conclusion of your truck accident case. We work with surgeons, hospitals, surgical facilities, and even anesthesiologists, who are willing to forego payment until the settlement of your claim, if you require surgery.
Proving-Up Loss of Earnings & Earning Capacity
Can you recover the wages you have lost because of the accident?
Yes. The trucking company or insurance company, however, will want your loss of earnings to be well documented. In the past our lawyers have helped 18 wheeler accident victims in Dallas establish a legal right to these damages, by utilizing fact witness affidavits, company correspondence, and certified tax and earnings documents.
An Example: Our Dallas commercial vehicle accident attorneys represented a young female whose job was classified as “Light” according to exertional demands. She underwent a Physical Performance Examination that indicated she did not have the capacity to perform at the “Light” exertion level. She was held out of work until she was capable of performing her job duties without the risk of aggravating her injuries.
Can you recover damages for loss of earning capacity due to a commercial accident?
Yes. Loss of earning capacity is the total amount of wages you will lose over the course of your lifetime due to your injuries adjusted to net present value.
Our attorneys utilize both Economists and Vocational Rehabilitation Consultants when needed to prove-up past lost wages or loss of earning capacity.
What other monetary damages are available in commercial accident injury claims?
If you have been involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle, you might be entitled to the following monetary damages in addition to those described above:
- Past reasonable and necessary medical expenses;
- Future reasonable and necessary medical expenses;
Our Dallas personal injury law firm has utilized a Life Care Planner on 18 wheeler accident cases in the past. We front the cost of this expert’s report if you have sustained life-altering injuries and will need life-long accommodations.
- Automobile repair costs;
- Replacement car cost; and
- Diminished value.
Pain, Suffering, Mental Anguish & Impairment Caused by a Commercial Vehicle Accident
What non-economic damages are available in the context of an 18-wheeler accident claim?
If you have been involved in a commercial truck accident you may be entitled to damages for:
- Pain and suffering – both past and future;
- Mental anguish – both past and future;
- Physical impairment – both past and future; and
- Loss of consortium.
Non-economic damages, unlike economic damages, are generally not ascertainable to a fixed degree. For example, if you made $5,000 a month and were injured in a truck accident that caused you to miss four months of work, your loss of earnings economic damages are clearly $20,000. Your individual pain, suffering, and mental anguish however cannot be quantified, and a jury would have complete discretion in computing these damages.
We often oversee preparation of a “day in the life” video. A video demonstrating a typical day in “your shoes” can often be the difference between a good settlement and a great settlement. Our attorneys have the experience to allow you to answer questions that detail your unique story, and illustrate the devastating impact of your accident.
About Punitive Damages in Commercial Vehicle Accident Claims
What are punitive damages?
Punitive damages are designed to punish wrongdoers for reckless or grossly negligent conduct. In Texas these damages are generally difficult to obtain and must be examined on a case-by-case basis.
What are some situations that may warrant an award of punitive damages in a trucking accident claim?
The potential for punitive damages should be explored on every case involving an 18-wheeler or commercial vehicle. Some situations where a finding of recklessness or gross negligence might be warranted include:
- If the driver was found to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
- If the driver was found to be driving while intoxicated;
- If the driver violated his or her requirements to stop and rest for a minimum number of hours;
- If the driver failed to properly secure his or her load; and
- If the driver was operating his or her vehicle at a reckless speed.
About Negotiating Injury and Damages Claims
Our Promise to You
Mullen & Mullen’s Dallas lawyers will argue passionately on your behalf in attempting to obtain the best possible settlement for you and your family. We’re good at it. After all, our injury law firm has been fighting for victims of commercial vehicle accidents for 40 years.
What is the value of your truck accident injury claim?
Most Dallas accident attorneys will only say what you want to hear, even though they realize your case value is directly tied to the extent of the injuries you sustained and other factors that could influence a jury, such as if the driver was texting when the collision occurred. Our injury attorneys offer guidance on expected case settlement value, only after we have reviewed all case documents and evaluated the arguments raised by the insurance adjuster. Would you want a surgeon to offer an opinion without reviewing medical records?
Are there some guiding principles in valuing a commercial accident claim?
You bet. If you have suffered a measurable or easily observed injury, as opposed to a sprain or strain type of whiplash injury, your injury claim will certainly have enhanced value. Measurable or easily observed injuries might include fractured bones, broken limbs, herniated discs, extruded discs and other spinal injuries, leading directly to the necessity of surgery such as a fusion or discectomy.
The trucking company is arguing you were also negligent in the accident. What does that mean?
The trucking company is suggesting you were also to blame for the accident. In short, they are arguing you were comparatively negligent and that your act(s) or omission(s) contributed to the collision.
Remember: If you are found to be negligent, the percentage of fault assigned to you by the jury is deducted from the total verdict. For example, if the jurors awarded $50,000 in damages but determined you were 20% at fault, the final verdict would be adjusted to $40,000.
If you were partly negligent, are you barred from obtaining a recovery in a commercial accident?
No, except if the jury determines you are more than 50% at fault for the wreck. Recovery is possible even if the jury determines liability for the 18 wheeler accident should be apportioned 50/50, although the total settlement would be reduced by 50%.
What are “reasonable and necessary” medical bills?
Under Texas accident law, you are allowed to seek recovery of the amount of monies you paid or incurred to doctors and other medical professionals. The medical bills must be both reasonable and necessary. Trucking companies almost always argue that at least some of the accident victim’s treatment was unreasonable or unnecessary. They usually retain a medical doctor to perform a “peer review”.
What is a pre-existing condition?
Trucking companies love to suggest that injury victims suffered from a pre-existing condition. The difference between a good settlement and a great settlement can often come down to whether or not medical records and other documentation clearly demonstrate an aggravation of a pre-existing condition.
Our lawyers often request that a treating medical provider review a client’s pre-accident medical records so that the “Eggshell Plaintiff” doctrine can be argued if applicable. In addition, securing past medical records often leads to the best evidence of pain, suffering, mental anguish, and impairment.
What happens if you decline the trucking company’s last settlement offer?
You have the right to initiate litigation against the driver and the company he or she was working for if you choose to decline their final settlement offer.
Settling a Commercial Accident Injury Claim vs. Filing a Texas Lawsuit
Should you settle or initiate litigation in a commercial accident injury claim?
Injury claims need to be evaluated on an individual basis. Sometimes a $50,000 offer before initiating litigation ends up being more money to you than a $70,000 offer following the filing of a lawsuit. Consider these factors:
- Attorney fees almost always increase after litigation is initiated.
- Case expenses, especially on commercial accident claims, usually dramatically increase in litigation.
- Litigation is very time-consuming and often lasts 9-12 months.
- Your health insurance company or a workers’ compensation company might be more receptive to reducing a lien they hold prior to the commencement of litigation.
Our Promise to You: There’s a reason our law office has been in business for 40 years. Mullen & Mullen gives clients the same advice they would give friends or family members. Our only concern is that you get the most money possible for your big rig accident injury claim.
Litigating a Commercial Vehicle Accident Injury Claim
What is the importance of requesting records relating to the truck’s daily log monitoring device and driver management system?
Big rig drivers are only allowed to drive a certain amount of consecutive hours before the law requires them to stop and rest. The truck’s daily log monitoring device would potentially demonstrate how many miles the driver drove that day or his or her hours of service in a given timeframe. The driver management system should indicate geographical position, hours in service, load balance, and stability data, among other things.
What is the importance of obtaining the driver’s qualification file?
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Documents generated or maintained pursuant to Part 382, 383, and 391 constitute the Driver Qualification File and can be exceedingly useful in determining whether the at-fault driver was qualified to be operating an 18-wheeler safely. These records are especially useful in conjunction with the 18 wheeler driver’s investigative history file and personnel file.
Can the semi truck’s GPS system be utilized to strengthen my injury claim?
Yes, if GPS data is available, it would likely be discoverable in litigation through a Request for Production of documents. GPS data can be utilized in a number of ways – including to pinpoint the vehicle’s location at various times or to confirm the route of travel.
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Mullen & Mullen Law Firm
1825 Market Center Blvd #200
Dallas, TX 75207
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Joseph R. Morrison is the Senior Associate Attorney at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX, where he represents people personally injured due to the negligence of others. He was recognized by VerdictSearch for obtaining a Top 5 Premises Liability verdict in the State of Texas, and has been quoted in the ABA Journal.