Snellings Law PLLC Attorneys are Personal Injury Trial Lawyers
What Experts Need to Be Hired for an 18-Wheeler Case?
If you’ve read any of our past blogs about 18-wheeler accident cases, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that these cases are much more complex. If you haven’t read our other 18-wheeler blogs, you can check them out here. 18-wheelers are much larger than regular automobiles, so they can cause much more catastrophic injuries. They are also commercial vehicles, meaning they are owned and operated by a company, which can lead to liability issues.
In the event an 18-wheeler case gets to trial, you’ll need to have experts testify on your behalf so that the jury understands how exactly the at-fault driver is at fault and how your injuries will affect the rest of your life. To understand what experts may need to be hired, we’ve created a list below:
Accident Reconstruction Expert
Accident reconstruction experts can help determine why the crash happened and who is at fault. An accident reconstruction expert analyzes the events leading up to the accident. They examine evidence such as police reports, pictures of the scene, and the damage to the vehicles. They then create a 3D model or written report of the crash to give the jury a step-by-step description of the crash. Their analysis might reveal that factors such as speeding, visibility issues, road conditions, etc. were key components in the occurrence of the crash.
A biomechanic is someone who studies the action of external and internal forces on the living body. Biomechanics have expertise in tissue, muscle, bones, etc. and how these biological components will react or withstand force, motion, or stress. They can analyze injuries and determine how the mechanics of the accident caused them. In an 18-wheeler accident case, a biomechanic looks at the physical impact of the crash on the victim’s body and can give expert testimony about that impact to a jury.
Digital Forensic Expert
A digital forensic expert is an expert who obtains and analyzes material found on digital devices. For a truck accident case, a digital forensic expert can download phone records and driver logs. Trucks have a computerized system called a ‘black box’ that monitors the mechanical systems in the truck and the driver’s safety. This black box contains:
- Electronic Control Modules (ECMs) that monitor the mechanical functions of the truck
- Electronic Logging Devices (ELMs) that monitor the hours the driver is working
- An event data recorder that can record the events leading up to and during a crash
The digital forensic expert can take the data from these devices and try to determine the factors that caused the crash. They might even be able to uncover information about the driver that might help indicate liability, such as if the driver was speeding, whether the driver applied brakes, or what kind of steering input was occurring prior to the crash.
In personal injury cases, the law classifies damages as economic or non-economic. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering or mental anguish. On the other hand, economic damages are damages such as past and future medical bills, lost wages, or lost earning capacity. An expert economist can testify about how economically damaging the crash was to the victim. They may look at past tax records, earnings records, and retirement benefits. They may also use statistics and mathematical equations to factor in inflation and growth rates to determine future losses. An economist is most helpful when the injury victim has long-term losses, like a disability, that will affect their future finances in the long term.
A forensic pathologist is a physician who is able to determine a victim’s cause of death, time of death, and manner of death. If an 18-wheeler accident is fatal to a victim, a forensic pathologist can testify whether or not the 18-wheeler caused the victim’s death.
A forensic toxicologist has expertise in how different drugs affect the human body. They can examine blood test results and determine if medication or other drugs were present in the at-fault driver’s blood. They also are able to interpret the results and testify about the effect those drugs might have had on that person. In an 18-wheeler case, they can determine if the truck driver was impaired when the crash occurred.
Life Care Planner
Since 18-wheeler wrecks usually result in catastrophic injuries, a life care planner can ensure victims are fairly compensated. The life care planner will look at the costs of medical equipment, home health, transportation, surgeries, and more. Then, the life care planner will create a detailed report estimating the victim’s future care costs based on their injuries and life expectancy.
Mechanical Engineer/Truck Mechanic
Mechanical engineers have expertise in mechanics. They can determine if an 18-wheeler crash happened due to a mechanical issue with the truck. They have expert knowledge of the design, build, and operations of heavy trucks. They’re able to analyze and testify about whether or not the truck had a mechanical defect. They might also be able to determine if the crash happened due to poor maintenance of the truck. If so, that could prove that the trucking company, maintenance provider, or truck manufacturer was also liable.
Additionally, a component part expert, an expert who has specified knowledge about certain parts of the truck, can testify if one of the component parts was defective and caused the crash.
A medical professional is a standard expert witness in 18-wheeler accident cases. 18-wheelers can cause catastrophic injuries, and a medical professional can help explain the severity of these injuries to the jury. They have expert medical knowledge and can testify about details regarding the victim’s injuries. They have knowledge about the severity of the injuries, treatment plans, and how the victim’s life will be impacted in the future. A medical expert witness can also put this information in non-medical terms so that a jury can clearly understand.
Mental Health Expert
This expert could be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, psychiatric nurse, therapist, or licensed professional counselor. These professionals have expertise in the workings of the brain and human emotions, thoughts, and feelings. However, psychiatrists differ from the others because they are medical doctors who can diagnose illnesses and prescribe medication. A mental health expert can help determine whether the victim’s mental state changed or declined after the incident, which it commonly does. They will usually compare the victim’s pre-injury psychology to their post-injury psychology to paint a picture for the jury.
A metallurgist is an expert in the physical and chemical properties of metals. In an 18-wheeler accident case, a metallurgist can look at truck parts and determine whether or not there was a mechanical failure that might have led to a fracture, failure, corrosion, fire, or explosion, causing the crash. They can also determine if there was overloading of the trailer or tank beyond its capacity, which would also cause an issue that could lead to a crash.
Transportation Investigator/Safety Expert
Transportation investigators and safety experts have expertise in road safety, traffic conditions, transportation engineering, and DOT compliance and safety. They can testify about the safety and upkeep of products like airbags, tires, helmets, etc. They can also investigate and testify about whether the at-fault driver followed DOT regulations. If the truck driver violated DOT regulations, that could indicate fault.
Vocational Rehabilitation Expert
A vocational rehabilitation expert is an expert who specializes in helping injured or disabled people find jobs. They assess job requirements and an injured or disabled person’s ability to perform those job requirements. They help find jobs that the injured person can perform, even if they might need additional training or accommodations. They will ask questions about the victim’s work history and classify each prior job to determine if the victim has any transferable skills after the accident. Sometimes 18-wheeler injury victims are unable to continue working, so they lose income. In a trucking accident, a vocational rehabilitation expert can testify about past and present lost income. They can also testify whether the victim will need any future care.
As you can see, there are many experts that could be hired to help in an 18-wheeler case. However, it is our hope that you never even have to think about filing an 18-wheeler accident claim. While some accidents are unavoidable, watch the video below to learn how to protect yourself around 18-wheelers:
Snellings Law Attorneys are 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys
18-wheeler crashes are scary and traumatic. These vehicles can do extreme damage, and that damage can be life-altering. Not only is the crash stressful, but the aftermath is as well. Filing a claim against an 18-wheeler driver and any other liable entities is a long and difficult process, and they will do anything they can to avoid being held responsible. For this reason, experts can be extremely helpful in showing a jury how devastating a crash truly is for a victim.
Our 18-wheeler accident attorneys at Snellings Law have the experience needed to guide you through these claims, ease your stress, and allow you to focus on healing. We know exactly what experts to hire, and our team of trial attorneys is ready to take your case to court if needed. When you hire our firm, you don’t just hire one of our 18-wheeler accident attorneys. Instead, you get our whole team dedicated to your case. Our top priority is making sure you get the care you need. If you’ve been seriously or catastrophically injured by an 18-wheeler, please give us a call. We can schedule a free strategy session with one of our attorneys to discuss your case and the next steps. Call us today at (214) 387-0387.
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After your Free Strategy Session, you will understand where insurance companies can set traps for you and what needs to be done to avoid these traps. You will also understand the personal injury process as well as how we can help, or if you need the help of an attorney. The strategy session typically will have one of three outcomes. You:
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Again, there is zero obligation and you will be informed and understand your rights and the process. We want to arm you with knowledge to avoid the traps insurance companies set to harm your claim.