Common Questions About Truck Accident Claims in Tennessee

It’s normal to have a lot of questions after you or a family member has been seriously hurt in an accident with a commercial truck. Browse the articles below to see some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from truck accident victims in Nashville and the surrounding areas, as well as clear and easy-to-understand answers from our skilled injury attorneys. 

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  • What can I do to help my truck accident case succeed?

    patient talking to doctor

    The best thing you can do in the days after a wreck is to speak with a Tennessee trucking accident lawyer. Tennessee truck crash victims only have one year from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, so it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible. Your attorney can determine if trucker negligence, maintenance problems, improper loading, or other trucking company failures led to your injuries, and send a spoliation letter to prevent the destruction of vital evidence.

    Common Mistakes Victims Make After a Truck Crash

    Unfortunately, victims often make simple missteps that have big consequences throughout the injury and recovery process. You should be wary of doing something that hurts your case:

    • At the scene. Victims may be in shock and in significant pain after a crash, causing them to say things that can be used against them. Offering police more information than they ask for or saying “I’m sorry” can be misinterpreted as an admission of fault.
    • During your recovery. Never attempt to “walk off” or delay treatment for injuries that were caused by someone else’s negligence. Failing to get prompt medical attention, skipping doctors’ appointments, or posting too much on social media can all impact the value of your insurance claim.
    • When dealing with an insurance company. The trucking company’s insurance provider will do everything it can to pay you as little as possible for your claim. Never submit to a recorded statement when discussing the accident with insurance adjusters.
    • Before you settle your case. If you accept a settlement from an insurer before you know the true value of your losses, you could lose the right to receive future compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, disability costs, and pain and suffering.

    If you have suffered a serious injury in a trucking accident, our lawyers can discuss your next steps in your free initial consultation—and we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, please fill out the short contact form on this page or download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit in Tennessee?

    time is running out clock Every state creates its own time limit to bring an injury claim, called the statute of limitations. In Tennessee, victims have just one year from the date of the truck accident to file a lawsuit to recover payment for their medical bills, surgery costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses. This is much shorter than the deadline in other states, and many victims may fall outside of the statute of limitations before they even know the full extent of their injuries.

    Sooner Is Always Better When it Comes to Speaking With a Truck Wreck Lawyer

    If you have been injured in a truck crash, it is always best to speak with a Tennessee trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible. Fast action will greatly benefit your case, as it allows us to:

    • Collect evidence before it disappears. Truck drivers and commercial carriers follow company procedures to limit their liability after a crash, including destroying any evidence that could be used against them. One of the first things your attorney can do is send a spoliation letter to preserve truck driver logs, maintenance records, and other vital information in your claim.
    • Determine if you may be granted an extension. Tennessee law may allow an extension to the filing deadline under certain circumstances. For example, if the person hurt in the crash was a minor at the time of the accident, they may have until their 19th birthday to bring a claim.
    • Investigate commercial vehicle requirements. Not all injury attorneys have experience in truck wreck cases. Our attorneys have a thorough knowledge of commercial carrier and driver laws and safety regulations, and know how to gather evidence of trucker error, overloading, failed maintenance, and other trucking company negligence.

    Our lawyers can discuss your next steps in your free initial consultation, and we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, please fill out the short contact form on this page or download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • How do I choose an attorney if I was in an accident with a tanker truck?

    tanker truck driving down the roadThousands of commercial truck accidents occur each year in the United States, but few are as deadly as those involving tanker trucks. Trucks carrying fuel, toxic chemicals, and other flammable materials are particularly dangerous for occupants of surrounding vehicles. In addition to the increased size and weight of these vehicles, a spillage or explosion of the cargo can cause victims to suffer burns, scarring, lung damage, disfigurement, or even wrongful death. 

    Parties Who May Be Responsible for Injury Costs in a Tanker Truck Crash

    There are various types of tanker trucks, each one with the ability to cause severe injuries in an accident. Unfortunately, many trucking companies will work to destroy evidence of wrongdoing after a crash, denying victims the chance to collect proper compensation for their pain and suffering. You should hire a truck wreck attorney who will work with local police, Tennessee Highway Patrol officials, or even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to get to the root cause of your collision with a tanker truck.

    An investigation into your collision could determine liability on the part of:

    • Commercial truck drivers. Any truck driver who transports hazardous materials must have a hazmat endorsement on his or her commercial driver’s license (CDL). This endorsement is only issued after the driver passes a Hazardous Materials Endorsement Knowledge Test, vision screening, and a Transportation Security Administration criminal background check. Even if properly licensed, the driver may still be found guilty of negligence if he or she was speeding, driving recklessly, or did not get enough rest between shifts.
    • Trucking carriers. Both state and federal laws set forth codes of conduct for commercial trucking carries. Owners of these companies must follow the rules created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the State of Tennessee, including keeping accurate records of their drivers, conducting extensive background checks on employees, and training drivers on how to properly operate the truck.
    • Maintenance providers. Roadway spills and explosions are often caused by a failure to maintain the tank, trailer, or cab properly. A truck crash attorney can examine repair records to determine if your injury resulted from a maintenance issue, and can also take steps to prevent potential spoliation of evidence.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt in a tanker truck accident, please fill out the short contact form on this page to set up your free initial consultation. Our lawyers serve injury clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Can I sue the driver of a FedEx or delivery truck?

    delivery van on highway near cityThe ease of online shopping has added thousands of delivery trucks to Tennessee roads, delivering millions of packages with each new day. Carriers such as UPS and FedEx rely on fleets of box trucks and delivery vans, each one with the potential to cause an accident with a pedestrian or passenger vehicle.

    Who Can Be Held Liable for a Delivery Truck Accident?

    Under Tennessee law, an employer may be held liable for the negligent acts of an employee if an accident occurs within with the scope of employment. You could be owed compensation from the driver as well as the delivery company for acts of negligence, including:

    • Untrained driver errors. While semi-truck drivers are required to be fully trained and licensed to operate their vehicles, delivery truck drivers may not be held to the same standards. Depending on the weight and size of the vehicle, a delivery driver may not be required to hold a commercial driver’s license or even prove that they have received training in the safe operation of a truck or van. 
    • Dangerous maneuvers. Delivery drivers are under considerable pressure to meet deadlines, and they may perform risky maneuvers such as speeding or illegal turns in order to shave seconds off their drive time.
    • Drowsy or distracted driving. Drivers who are unfamiliar with their delivery routes may strike children or pedestrians as they search for addresses or back out of driveways. Staffing shortages may also cause overloaded delivery schedules, leading to drowsy driving accidents.
    • Maintenance problems. Some delivery companies are so inundated with orders they outsource their deliveries to third-party contractors. If the accident was caused by a lack of maintenance or a contractor driver’s error, you may have a third-party claim.

    If you or someone you love has been hurt by a delivery truck or van, simply fill out the short contact form on this page to set up your free initial consultation. Our lawyers serve injury clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To learn more about your claim, download a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Can I sue the driver if I was hit by a post office truck?

    postal truck parked on the side of the roadDelivery drivers can be involved in accidents just like any other drivers, and operators of mail trucks may even be more likely to cause a crash. They often have to navigate narrow streets, drive on the wrong side of the road to reach mailboxes, and avoid hitting pedestrians in residential neighborhoods. If you are injured by a United States Postal Service truck, your claim will be completely different than a case against an insured driver or a commercial delivery service such as FedEx or UPS. 

    Claims Against the Government Are More Complicated Than Other Crash Cases

    The rules for filing injury claims against a USPS driver are similar to crash cases involving state- or city-owned vehicles in that the government entity takes responsibility instead of the employee. Unlike commercial trucks, government vehicles are not insured, so you will be suing the federal government directly for your injury costs.

    There are a number of specialized procedures that you will have to follow in your case, including:

    • Meeting federal filing requirements. All claims for accidents with government vehicles are filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). There are many limitations on these claims, but most notably they must be filed in federal court and they must involve an employee’s negligence committed within the scope of his or her employment.
    • Identifying the negligent parties. In addition to a claim against the government, your accident could potentially involve the negligence of several other parties. For example, many government departments sub-contract delivery services to third parties. These third parties may be used to make home deliveries or to drive 18-wheelers loaded with mail from a distribution center to your local post office. If the vehicle that struck you was not owned by the government, but is owned by a sub-contractor working for the government, you may be able to file a standard injury lawsuit against the third party in addition to filing a government claim.
    • Negotiating with a U.S. attorney. You may be able to reach a settlement during the administrative claim process and avoid having to go to court. If negotiations with the government attorney assigned to your case fail, you can file your lawsuit, which brings in a new team of attorneys from the U.S. Justice Department. Again, you and your attorney can attempt to reach a settlement, or you can proceed to court.

    Our lawyers serve injury clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To set up a free initial consultation, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. For more information, you can also request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Is it true that I can accept a truck accident settlement without a lawyer?

    hands opening insurance settlement checkOne of the biggest myths about truck crash cases is that it is always better to settle your claim yourself than to hire an attorney. While injury victims can legally accept an insurance settlement without a lawyer, it is rarely the best course of action. If you represent yourself, you will have to negotiate with an insurance agent who has years of experience undervaluing claims, wait through any delays in the claim, provide additional information to the insurer—and in the end, you may still not get enough to cover the full costs of the crash.

    When Consulting an Attorney May Be Wiser Than Accepting a Settlement

    If you have minor injuries and little or no property damage, you may be able to convince an insurance company to cover your expenses. However, you should not take a settlement offer from an insurer without first speaking to an attorney if any of the following apply to you:

    • There may be more than one person at fault. Truck accident cases can involve the potential liability of the trucker, the driver of the car, the trucking carrier, the loading company, an auto parts manufacturer, and others. If multiple parties share blame for the accident, an attorney can determine who may be responsible for your losses and protect your rights to file a lawsuit.
    • You have suffered significant financial losses. Most people struggle to pay unforeseen costs, and insurance adjusters take advantage of this by offering a low settlement that can be paid in a matter of days. Unfortunately, this often leaves victims with far less than they deserve for their injuries. 
    • You have sustained serious injuries that may affect your future. If your injuries have resulted in disability, inability to work, and ongoing medical treatment, an attorney can place a value on the amount of damages you could be owed to compensate you for the rest of your life.

    Unfortunately, once you accept a settlement, you give up the right to ask for more money later. With so much at stake, an attorney’s advice in these matters can be invaluable. Our injury lawyers serve truck accident clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To set up a free initial consultation, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. For more information, you can also request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Why is it urgent to hire an attorney after a trucking accident?

    injured truck accident victim talking to a lawyerIn the weeks after a serious accident, most victims simply want to pick up the pieces and move on. Many are in pain, unable to work, and overwhelmed by the problems caused by the crash—especially the struggle of trying to get insurance compensation for their injuries. The good news is that victims who meet with an attorney sooner rather than later have the strongest chance of recovering fair payment for their losses.

    Benefits of Speaking With an Attorney as Soon as Possible After a Truck Crash

    Commercial truck accidents are not the same as car crashes. They have the potential to cause far greater injuries that result in permanent disability or even death, and trucking companies’ insurers may resist insurance claims to pay for these costs. The earlier you speak with a lawyer, the more time you will have to focus on healing while your legal representative gets to work on your case.

    Our attorneys can help you:

    • Learn your options. An experienced truck accident lawyer will be able to determine who could be at fault in your case. Not only can the truck driver be held responsible, the trucking carrier, loading company, or manufacturer of defective truck parts may all share liability for your injuries.
    • Collect evidence before it disappears. Trucking companies have years of experience in mitigating their losses in an accident, and will likely assemble a team of attorneys to get to work right after a crash. An attorney can preserve evidence after a truck crash to ensure that no videos, files, documents, or other data is destroyed.
    • Understand the laws. Commercial vehicles are governed by a different set of laws than passenger cars. Your case can involve a number of important variables, including travel on intrastate and interstate highways, federal hours of service requirements, and commercial driving license laws.
    • Know what to expect. Depending on the factors of your case, you may be able to settle your claim without going to court or even before a lawsuit is filed. Once we have examined your claim, we can advise you on your next steps and stay in touch throughout the course of your case.

    Our injury lawyers serve truck accident clients on a contingent fee basis, meaning we do not collect anything unless we secure a recovery for you. To set up a free initial consultation, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. For more information, you can also request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Is it true that I cannot sue the driver of a municipal vehicle in Tennessee?

    police car driving through highway tunnelWhile municipal vehicles such as ambulances, police cars, garbage trucks, and school buses are just as likely to be involved in an accident as passenger cars, state laws make cases against the at-fault driver more complex. Tennessee laws prevent car accident victims from suing individual drivers who are employed by state or city governments. However, the victim can bring a claim against the governing body to cover medical bills and other losses sustained in the crash.

    Filing a Crash Lawsuit Against a City or County Government in Tennessee

    Drivers of city, county, and state vehicles are protected under the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA). The Act allows the governmental entity to be held liable instead of its negligent driver, as long as the driver was an employee of the city or county and was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the crash.

    Unfortunately, the GTLA places a number of restrictions on these cases, including:

    • Per victim recovery limits. The law limits the amount of compensation for bodily injury or death of any one person in an accident at $300,000.
    • Per accident recovery limits. The Act places a total per accident cap of $700,000 for city and county defendants, and a cap of $1,000,000 for accidents caused by state employees.
    • Loss of punitive damages. Since the amount that can be recovered in these accidents is limited by law, any amount awarded for punitive damages do not have to be paid (unless the government entity has an insurance policy in place that could cover the additional amount). 
    • Statute of limitations. Most claims against governments must be brought within one year of the date of injury.
    • Loss of jury trial. Most of these cases are decided by a judge rather than a trial by jury.

    If you were struck by a municipal vehicle, you should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Among other things, we can determine whether the driver was a government employee or an outsourced driver—a difference that can have a major impact on your case. Simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.

  • Are commercial truckers allowed to use cell phones while driving?

    truckers texting and drivingWhen a driver becomes too distracted to pay attention to the potential traffic risks around him, he greatly increases his odds of causing an accident. Cell phones are rapidly becoming the number one distraction for drivers. Unfortunately, the popularity of cell phone use isn’t restricted to sedan and mid-size car drivers. The most worrisome trend is that commercial truck drivers have begun to pick up their phones as well—making them more dangerous on the road—despite federal regulations prohibiting distracting behavior.

    Ignoring Regulations Leads to Dangerous Behavior

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has recently published specific rules regarding commercial truck and transporters from using cell phones. These rules prohibit interstate truck drivers and drivers who transport hazardous materials from texting or using hand-held mobile devices while their vehicles are in motion. To prevent any confusion, the U.S. Department of Transportation has explicitly defined the words “texting” and “cell phone use” so that truckers can easily tell if they’re violating the rules:

    • Texting. The DOT recognizes texting as not only the manual entering of alphanumeric information into an electronic device, but also the reading of information off of a device. Under this definition, the FMCSA regulations prohibit truck drivers from performing actions such as short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, accessing Web pages, or using multi-button communication. In short, if the driver pushes more than a single button on his device to perform any action, he’s guilty of violating the texting regulation.
    • Cell phone use. Under the DOT definition, holding or even reaching for a mobile phone with the intent of conducting voice or multi-button communication is considered cell phone use, and is prohibited. The FMCSA regulations allow truckers to use hands-free communication devices, as long as they are located within easy reach of the driver.

    In other words, truckers can only use mobile devices if the device is within close proximity, requires a single button push to activate communications, or is totally hands-free.

    Risks and Punishment

    If caught, violators of these cell phone safety regulations can suffer severe penalties. In addition to legal consequences following an accident, if a commercial truck driver uses an electronic device against the FMCSA rules, he may suffer the following consequences: 

    • Civil penalties. Violators can be stuck with fines and penalties up to $2,750 for violation of safety regulations.
    • Employer civil penalties. If determined that the driver’s employer willfully allowed him to use a cell phone while driving, the employer can be liable for damages. 
    • Increased risk of damaging safety record. Violators can be awarded the minimum safety measurement rating for a commercial driver, which could lead to the loss of his commercial license.
    • Increased risk of causing an accident. Commercial truck drivers who text while driving are 23.2 times more likely to cause an accident than those who do not. Drivers who dial mobile phones while driving have a 20 percent greater chance of causing an accident than those who follow the rules.
    • Increased insurance premiums. Violations of safety protocols could drastically increase a driver’s insurance premiums, especially if he caused an accident as a result.
    • Increased risk for vehicular manslaughter charges. If the driver’s actions directly caused a fatal collision, in addition to personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage liability, he could also face a manslaughter or vehicular homicide charge. 

    Making Your Case

    Have you recently been the victim of a distracted truck driver? If so, you need help to build and strengthen your case. Contact truck accident lawyers directly to schedule your FREE consultation. We’re waiting to help you better understand and pursue your injury claim. Take it from us, knowing the driver was violating his safety protocols is not the same thing as being able to prove it. Allow us to take that burden from you. Simply click the contact info on this page and see how we can help you get the justice you deserve.

  • Can multiple parties be held responsible for a truck accident?

    Row of semi trucks in a parking lotWhen you and your family suffer a devastating truck collision, the first thing you need to worry about is getting the medical care you need. Once everyone’s injuries have been addressed, your next concern should focus on the cause of the accident. After a car accident, these questions can generally be answered one of two ways: You are at fault or the other driver is at fault. However, truck accidents aren’t necessarily that black and white.

    Multiple Liability for Truck Accidents

    The trucking industry is required to follow strict laws mandated by the federal government. These laws can help determine who should be held responsible for an accident depending on which regulations were ignored. Four possible candidates for liability are the driver, the trucking company, the cargo company, and the truck manufacturer

    • Driver. Truck drivers are responsible for following traffic laws, controlling their rigs, and maintaining a level of professionalism at all times. Unfortunately, they also have to worry about deadlines, impatient employers, and efficiency bonuses. As a result, it’s easy for a truck driver to choose speed over caution and reckless behavior over safety. When a driver dismisses protocol and disregards traffic safety, he may be liable for any damages that result from his actions.
    • Trucking company. A trucking company may be held liable for a collision if it placed unrealistic expectations on the driver. Federal laws mandate when and how long a driver must rest between shifts. However, when an employer encourages a driver to push through his breaks to meet his deadline, he forces the trucker to drive negligently and places you at risk. Furthermore, a trucking company can be held responsible for hiring inexperienced or dangerous drivers and for failing to maintain trucks in their fleet.    
    • Cargo company. One of the most common causes of truck accidents is overloaded or poorly loaded cargo. When the cargo in the trailer is unbalanced, the entire truck becomes compromised. In addition to increasing the risk of rollovers and jackknives, unbalanced loads can greatly affect the driver’s ability to control the vehicle, no matter how skilled he is. In these situations, the driver can’t be held liable, as there was nothing he could do to prevent the accident.
    • Truck manufacturers. Truck manufacturers have a duty to test components to ensure their safety. If a defective part directly results in the truck’s loss of control, liability can be passed to the manufacturer. Again, since the driver would have no knowledge of the defect, he can’t be blamed for losing control.

    Pursuing Your Claim

    Need more information about your truck accident liability and claim options? Please feel free to download a complimentary copy of John L. Griffith’s free guide on Tennessee personal injury cases. You’ll not only learn more about your rights and claim options, but you’ll also get a better feel for how GriffithLaw can help you file a persuasive injury claim.

    When pursuing a truck accident claim, you’ll need as much help as you can get to ensure a strong and convincing claim. At GriffithLaw, we’re here to give you the guidance you need to feel confident and prepared for your claim’s success. We know how frustrating and complicated accident injury claims can be, so let our experience and knowledge work for you. Contact us today at 615-807-7900 for a FREE consultation.