Updated on: 3/8/2019
The severity and complexity of motor vehicle accident often varies, and no two collisions are the same. When it comes to accidents involving a semi-truck – also referred to as a big rig or 18-wheeler – the damage and resulting legal battle is typically on the more serious side.
The right truck accident lawyer can mean all the difference in your case. One of the more important factors in the case is the attorney’s knowledge of trucking accidents and what expert witnesses to use.
Expert witnesses are people highly experienced and knowledgeable in the trucking industry. These experts usually have decades of experience working with and around trucking companies and are familiar with the practices and tactics used. While not a first-hand witness of what happened, expert witnesses can use their knowledge of the industry to determine who was at fault and other key factors in the case.
Types of Expert Witnesses in Semi Truck Accident Cases
A semi-truck accident attorney may use several different types of expert witnesses. These experts may testify before a jury, examine the truck involved in the crash, evaluate the road conditions, or simply answer any questions the attorney may have about the nuances of trucking cases.
In some cases, there are only a few qualified experts in a field. Because of that, it’s important that the semi-truck attorney hires the expert before the trucking company and its lawyers do. Having the best expert in a critical field that is relevant to the case can also substantially increase the chances of a much more favorable outcome in the case
There are two likely reasons that an attorney may fail to hire the right experts for a trucking accident case. An inexperienced lawyer may not understand what it takes to successfully resolve a trucking accident case, or lack the financial resources needed to hire some experts.
Here are some of the most common experts used:
- Accident reconstruction expert: Reconstructing a crash is a basic way to determine fault in a collision involving a semi-truck. Doing this for semi-truck accidents is considerably more complex than crashes involving only passenger vehicles, and require consideration for several factors (size of the truck, configuration, damage, etc.).
- Economist: Medical expenses, physical therapy, lost wages, as well as many other things are factored into the settlement your semi-truck accident attorney will ask for.
- Vocational rehabilitation expert: Because semi-truck accidents are often life-changing, victims may suffer a decreased capacity to perform their job. This factors into the potential settlement.
- Physician (surgeon, neurologist, orthopedist, physiatrist, etc.): These types of medical professionals can paint a picture of the damage sustained by the victim and the treatment necessary to get back to full health.
- Psychologist/Mental health expert: Victims of semi-truck accidents often suffered post-traumatic stress and require psychological treatment in addition to treating their injuries.
- Roadway design expert: An examination of the roadway/signage could determine whether the design of the road was the cause of the fault.
- Commercial vehicle or truck mechanic: These types of people provide expert analysis of the workings of the large truck and what mechanical failures might have contributed to the accident. Trucks have longer stopping distances, reduced visibility, turning radius, etc., and certain standards are in place that hold truckers to a higher standard. The premise is that truck drivers should drive proactively/defensively, and do everything they can to avoid an accident. These standards are designed to control the hazards semi-trucks put passenger vehicles in.
- Forensic toxicologist / Drug and alcohol recognition expert: While it may seem like an open and shut case if the trucker involved in the crash tested positive for drugs or alcohol, that’s not the case. A forensic toxicologist or drug and alcohol recognition expert is often hired to draw a straight line from the intoxication to the accident.
- Transportation investigator or safety expert: The right safety expert witness can provide an analysis of the semi-truck’s department of transportation compliance in addition to other safety requirements.
- Metallurgist: A material scientist or technician who specializes in metals. Metallurgists may be hired to do a “failure analysis” on a semi-truck trailer or tanker to determine if the load was over capacity.
- Engineer (traffic engineer, mechanical engineer, etc.): These types of experts can analyze why a collision resulted in certain damage and where the fault is placed.
- Pathologist: This type of expert determines the most likely cause of death in an accident. A pathologist analyzes the chain of events that led to the death.
Consult With An Attorney After A Semi-Truck Accident
Attorney Chris Davis and the experienced legal team at Seattle-based Davis Law Group, P.S., handles all semi-truck and tractor-trailer accident cases on a contingency basis, which means you do not have to pay any lawyer fees until a settlement is reached.
If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, Davis Law Group is ready to help you. Call (206) 727-4000, use the chat feature below or fill out the form on this page for a free case evaluation.