Truck Accident Lawyer in Milwaukee, WI
There are no “little” accidents involving a tractor-trailer or semi on Wisconsin roads. With a fully loaded semi weighing nearly 80,000 pounds, its sheer size compared to other vehicles means even a small collision will often result in catastrophic injuries or death.
Unfortunately, these life-changing accidents are preventable, and they are often due to negligence on the part of the driver and/or trucking company.
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries due to a truck accident in or around Milwaukee, WI – for which they were not at fault, truck accident lawyers Ric Domnitz & Noah Domnitz can help. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck drivers make mistakes for a variety of reasons, including inexperience, lack of training, driver lack of attention, or driver distraction.
Speeding, Tailgating, and Aggressive Driving
A fully loaded 18-wheeler needs a distance at least 40 times greater than a car to stop. Speeding and other reckless driving behavior often lead to the most devastating kinds of semi accidents.
Impaired Driver Due to Drugs or Alcohol
There is no excuse for truck drivers endangering the lives of motorists by driving under the influence, yet the use of alcohol and prescription drugs by truckers remains a problem on Wisconsin roadways.
Improper Qualifications or Training
Driving a semi is very different from driving a car or pickup truck. In addition to a very high center of gravity, the weight of these large trucks requires that large commercial trucks be driven very differently. Many accidents may be attributed to truck drivers who were not properly trained to drive big rigs.
Improper Safety Equipment
Lights and mirrors are critical safety features on trucks. They provide critical information not only to the truck drivers themselves, but also to other motorists on Wisconsin roads. Trucking companies and truck drivers who do not maintain their vehicles in safe, working order can be held liable when that negligence results in injury to another.
Driver Fatigue and Faking Logbooks to Hide Driving More Than the Limit
The trucking industry is dependent on delivering goods in as short a time as possible. Despite federal regulations limiting how long they can drive, truck drivers frequently push their limits, legally and physically. Falsified logbooks and dummy logbooks are long-standing tricks used by truckers to conceal excessive hours on the road.
The sad fact is that many truck drivers are forced by their employers to meet unreasonable and often illegal delivery schedules that result in countless tragic semi-truck accidents, injuries, and deaths each year.
Violation of Federal Regulations
The trucking industry is heavily regulated, yet truck drivers and trucking companies continue to employ tactics to skirt the law. Whether exceeding hours of service limits or weight restrictions, it takes a skilled truck accident lawyer in Milwaukee to uncover the truth.
A common cause of truck accidents often goes overlooked — negligently loaded or secured cargo. When a large truck is improperly loaded, it creates a serious safety hazard for everyone on the road. This is especially true in Milwaukee & Wisconsin, where streets or highways can be slippery following rain, sleet, and snow. Truck loading is often done by the business whose product is being loaded, but the law places the final inspection and approval obligation on the driver of the truck. Experienced truck accident lawyers, such as Domnitz & Domnitz, know how to investigate all potentially responsible parties when injuries are caused by improperly loaded cargo.
Overloaded and improperly stacked materials can result in a truck driver losing control of the vehicle as cargo shifts, leading to jackknifing, rollovers, or mechanical failure. At our downtown Milwaukee firm, we conduct in-depth investigations to uncover the true cause of an accident.
Truck overloading is often done as the result of a trucking company’s emphasis on profits over safety, or as the result of pure carelessness.
If a Milwaukee truck accident attorney from our firm determines that a federal or state safety regulation was violated, we will work as quickly as possible to secure compensation for you and your family.
Defective Products and Products Liability
Defective tires, faulty brakes, and failed lights are just a few of the mechanical failures that can cause a truck accident. These kinds of defects are often overlooked by inexperienced firms when examining an accident involving trucks or other large vehicles.
In addition, faulty fuel systems can leak gas during an accident, especially if the truck is crushed, tips, or rolls. Fuel system defects can include:
- No anti-siphoning device to keep gas from leaking
- Flaws in the tank’s structure, design, or placement
- Faulty gas caps, fuel lines, or fuel pumps
Depending on the details of your truck accident case, we may be able to seek damages from multiple liable parties.
Adverse weather like snow, rain, and heavy fog can play a large factor in truck accidents, but the weather is seldom the only cause of a serious crash. Oftentimes there is driver error or driver distraction that also contributes to the truck crash.
Negligence is defined as a failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.
What this means is that if someone (like a commercial truck driver) does not exercise reasonable care and you are injured due to their failure, you have the right to seek compensation for many of the losses you incur due to your injuries.
For cases where the behavior of the at-fault party is so extreme that the court feels a “message” needs to be sent, punitive damages may also be awarded. Although not commonly awarded, punitive damages can be considerable.
For instance, in one case, a Milwaukee County Circuit Court jury awarded more than $12 million to an employee at the Birds Eye plant in Walworth County following an accident involving a Frozen Food Express truck driver on Feb. 5, 2009. The jury determined a finding of negligence on the part of the driver and the trucking company after the employee was repeatedly crushed between the trailer of the truck and a loading dock wall.
Types of Injuries in Truck Accidents
As we mentioned earlier, there are no “little” accidents involving commercial trucks. Tractor trailers, semis, and even box trucks are large vehicles that can and do often cause great harm to people and property when crashes occur.
An accident with a truck is typically a life-changing event that means extreme property damage, severe injuries, and sometimes even death. And, while no two truck accident cases are the same, there are common injuries that truck accident lawyers in Milwaukee like ourselves often see.
Common injuries after a truck accident include:
- Fractured and broken bones
- Soft tissue damage (including whiplash and neck pain)
- Nerve damage
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic head and brain injuries
- Injuries resulting in amputation
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Psychological distress (such as PTSD)
- Burns, rashes, and long-term injuries from contact with hazardous materials
- Fatal injuries
How Truck Accident Cases Are Different
One of the most complicated matters in a truck accident is determining who is liable for the accident. While it may seem obvious that the truck driver who caused the accident is liable, the matter can be more complex. For instance:
- Did a company hire an independent driver and then require him to drive outside the safety requirements?
- Did a third party freight scheduler ignore safety ratings when scheduling a driver or company?
- Were there safety violations in inspecting and maintaining the company truck?
- Did a different company load the truck improperly, impairing the driver’s ability to maintain control of the vehicle?
Multiple Liable Parties
Unlike more common passenger car accidents, where the only at-fault party is typically the driver, truck accident lawsuits can often involve multiple liable parties. For instance, for any given truck accident:
- The driver could be liable for committing a traffic violation or violating federal regulations that limit truckers time on the road.
- The trucking company could be liable for not properly maintaining the truck or not having properly trained drivers.
- The truck manufacturer could be liable for a defective vehicle part, such as faulty brakes or fuel line components.
- A third party could be liable for overloading the truck or not properly maintaining a vehicle on behalf of the trucking company.
Obviously, truck accident lawsuits can get complicated quickly, which is precisely why it is so important to have a knowledgeable, experienced truck accident lawyer in Milwaukee on your side. You need them—and their team of experts—to help you build a successful case against any and all liable parties involved in your accident.
Truck Driving Regulations
Commercial tractor-trailers are governed by strict rules due to their massive size and weight, as well as the hazardous materials they may carry. These state and federal regulations aim to protect public safety by making truck drivers and the companies they work for follow industry practices designed to minimize truck driver fatigue.
The Nature and Severity of Injuries
The weight, size, and speed of trucks and other large commercial vehicles means that when a truck is involved in an accident with a passenger vehicle, it is very likely the driver and passengers of the smaller vehicle will sustain injuries including back and neck injuries, broken bones, shoulder injuries, knee injuries, brain and TBI, spinal cord injuries, and more.
Statistics show that truck accidents are more likely to result in injuries as compared to car accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 119,000 injury crashes involving trucks & buses in 2016 – with 4,213 large trucks involved in fatal crashes.
Special Rules for Truck Drivers
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require motor carriers to regularly inspect, repair, and keep all vehicles and equipment under their control in good condition. When a truck is found to be unsafe, it must be marked “out-of-service.” The operation of unsafe vehicles is prohibited until all repairs required by the out-of-service notice have been made. The transportation company must keep records of the maintenance inspections and any repairs.
Additional safety violations include improperly secured cargo and equipment. Debris or cargo can fly off flatbed trucks and pickups and strike other vehicles. In tractor trailers, improperly secured or unsecured loads can cause serious accidents. Common load problems include:
- Overloaded trucks
- Straps coming off the load
- A load shifting, causing the truck to tip over
The cargo shipper is responsible for securing the load properly, and the driver is responsible for inspecting the load.
In addition, drivers have specific hours-of-service rules that limit how many hours they can drive per day. Limits differ for property-carrying trucks (such as semis, tractor trailers, and box trucks) and passenger-carrying trucks (like buses and shuttles), but adherence to these standards is mandatory.
Victims injured by truck drivers exceeding permitted driving hours may be able to sue for monetary compensation for their injuries. Additionally, the parent trucking company may also be liable if it can be established that they encouraged or failed to supervise the actions of their employees.
Common Types of Truck Accident Claims
Trucks account for 8% of highway traffic in the U.S., yet they are involved in 11% of fatal road crashes. This is due to their size, weight, and the type of materials they transport.
Getting in a truck accident can be life-altering, both in terms of injury and property damage. Seeking compensation with the help of a Milwaukee truck accident attorney is often the best thing you can do for your financial well-being and your peace of mind.
Personal Injury Claim
A truck accident claim is not the only type of personal injury claim available to an injured party. The basic concept behind personal injury claims is that when one party causes damage to another, the damaged party is entitled to compensation from the other for what was lost.
Other commonly pursued personal injury claims include those for car accidents, motorcycle accidents, nursing home abuse, wrongful death, animal attacks, medical malpractice, and product liability.
Wrongful Death Claim
As mentioned earlier, although trucks account for only 8% of highway traffic in the U.S., they are involved in 11% of fatal road crashes. Truck crashes are terrifying and dangerous, and the unfortunate reality is that they can result in death.
Whereas a personal injury suit exists to help accident survivors recover their losses, wrongful death suits exist to help the families of those who die due to the fault of another. These sorts of lawsuits seek compensation for lost wages from the deceased party, lost companionship, and funeral expenses.
If someone you love dies or is injured in a truck accident, it is vitally important that you contact a qualified wrongful death lawyer. Only then can you truly understand your rights and options.
Dangerous Cargo Claim
Millions of tons of hazardous material are transported across U.S. highways every year. Toxic gasses, explosive material, radioactive materials, poisonous material, and infectious material are all shipped via truck trailer.
This means that on any given day, a driver could crash with a truck and come in contact with these dangerous materials, resulting in severe injuries and long-term health consequences.
This is why strict regulations apply to commercial vehicles transporting hazardous materials. Due to the nature of the dangerous cargo they’re transporting, these vehicles are required to travel in the most safe and cautious manner possible, as well as display the nature of the hazardous materials they are transporting.
How a Truck Accident Lawyer in Milwaukee Can Help
After a truck accident, the trucking company and its insurance carrier will have adjusters and investigators on-site immediately, collecting evidence in their favor. They have a lot on the line, and like auto insurers, they will do everything they can to avoid paying a claim. The larger the claim, the harder they will fight to find a way around compensating the injured person.
You will need an experienced and aggressive Milwaukee truck accident attorney who will act in your best interests to protect your rights. When you choose Domnitz & Domnitz, you can trust that we will perform a comprehensive investigation and help you secure the maximum lawful compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and long-term care.
They Understand State and Federal Laws
There are a lot of specific laws surrounding vehicle accidents, and they can be difficult to navigate, particularly if you’re a layman.
A truck accident attorney specializes in vehicular accident claims. They know the ins and outs of all the legislation surrounding truck accidents. They also have a practical knowledge of how specific laws and regulations can be applied in different accident circumstances.
Insurance companies have their own legal professionals working to represent their best interests. It’s only fair that you should have a professional in your corner, too.
They Will Help You Determine Who Was at Fault
Truck accidents involve a lot of different factors that set them apart from other vehicle accidents. For instance, even if the driver of the truck is obviously at fault, there may be other entities who should be held accountable as well.
A truck accident lawyer in Milwaukee will help you determine who is at fault, including investigating:
- The company for whom the trucker works.
- The contracting company that may have hired the driver.
- The packing and shipping personnel in charge of loading the truck.
While you may be entitled to money from an insurance company, there’s a chance you’re entitled to compensation from other entities as well. Domnitz & Domnitz will aggressively pursue all viable avenues of compensation for your claim.
They Can Provide Expert Investigation
Trucking accidents are especially common on interstates. I-94 and I-43 are frequent sites of truck accidents around Milwaukee, WI, including accidents with multiple car/truck pile-ups. Regardless of the location, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
The trucking company and its insurance carrier will immediately send a team of investigators, insurance adjusters, and lawyers to the scene. They will work to protect the company from risk and expense, usually by denying fault for the accident.
Our attorneys investigate truck accidents by reviewing:
- The accident report
- The physical evidence at the scene of the accident
- The condition of the tires and brakes
- The driver log
- Drug and alcohol tests
- Safety maintenance records for the vehicle
In serious injury and wrongful death cases, we typically work with a truck accident reconstruction expert to determine the speed of each vehicle, which driver hit the other, the evasive maneuvers of each vehicle, to determine who was at fault for the accident.
They Have Their Own Team of Truck Accident Experts
Insurance companies are very good at sweeping onto the scene of an accident and analyzing evidence that will aid them in the event of a claim. But they’re not the only ones with specialist truck accident teams on hand.
A good truck accident lawyer in Milwaukee will have their own specialists with which they work closely. These may include:
- Accident reconstruction specialists
- Life care planners
- Medical professionals
- Forensic electronics specialists
By working with these experts, Domnitz & Domnitz can present the best case possible, proving the cause of the truck crash and enhancing your chances of getting full lawful compensation.
They Can Help You Determine the Best Course of Action
Your first instinct may be to sue the trucking company for damages, but there are factors to consider before filing any lawsuits. A Wisconsin truck accident attorney like Domnitz & Domnitz will help you calculate exactly what damages you should pursue, including:
- Lost wages from any time you may have spent out of work.
- Medical expenses that may have accrued resulting from the accident.
- Pain and suffering you have endured.
Often, comprehensive investigative efforts by experienced truck accident lawyers can result in a beneficial settlement for injured victims. Your legal representative may be able to help you negotiate the value of your damages without filing a lawsuit. This can save you time and money on legal fees and related costs.
Schedule a Free Consultation with Domnitz & Domnitz
Have you or someone you love been injured in a truck accident in Metro Milwaukee or Southeast Wisconsin due to the fault of another? If so, it is likely that you can recover damages for your injuries, losses, and pain and suffering.
Domnitz & Domnitz are A+ Better Business Bureau rated truck accident lawyers in Milwaukee, WI. We have helped thousands of clients recoup over $100 million for their injuries and suffering in a variety of personal injury cases.