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Truck Wreck Cases

It has become a well-advertised axiom that trucking cases are different from simple car wreck cases. They involve federal and state safety regulations, multiple categories of documents, industry jargon, electronic data and often nationwide discovery. The cast of characters is different, the insurance coverage are different, the discovery different, the jurisdiction and venue issues different and often the potential for recovery different. If you learn what to look for and act quickly enough, you can often find evidence of corporate negligence that enhances the case value. But if you treat it like a regular car wreck, you may cut your client short.

One big difference between truck and car crash cases is physics. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to grasp the idea that an 80,000 pound truck packs a bigger punch of kinetic energy than a 4,000 car traveling the same speed. One might result in a whiplash while the other produces multiple fatalities with corpses crushed or burned to a crisp.

Trucking cases also typically involve larger insurance policies than the typical car wreck case. The minimum liability coverage for interstate freight motor carriers is $750,000, and we seldom see a policy for less than $1,000,000. Often there is more coverage if you know where to look. Trucking companies and their insurers call in “rapid response teams” immediately after a catastrophic truck crash. At the head of the rapid response team, often directing the efforts of investigators at the scene, are defense lawyers specializing in trucking cases. After a case gets into litigation, you may find that the defense attorney was at the scene of the crash before the debris was removed.

While far from a comprehensive treatise on the subject, this paper is intended as an introduction for the lawyers accustomed to handling motor vehicle wreck cases but who is not experienced in trucking litigation. The following steps of case investigation and preparation often overlap and interweave, and some are not necessary in every case, but the outline may be used as a checklist.


Client Reviews
"My family hired Ken after our parents were killed in a trucking accident in GA in 2013. We worked with Ken for 19 months before our case settled. During this time I thought Ken was outstanding. He was accessible to us at all times and maintained consistent communication. He was patient with us and took time to explain the finer points of law. While we avoided going to trial, he prepared diligently and I felt like he was leaving nothing to chance. I am relieved that our case is complete and I will miss working with Ken. He was very thoughtful and caring while helping us to stay relaxed. I would highly recommend him to anyone who requires these types of services." David U., Client, Vermont
"When tragedy struck our family in the form of the wrongful death of our son and caused me physical injuries and changed our lives forever, we dragged our feet about hiring a lawyer. I didn't want to face having to go through the stress. Big mistake. The first thing you do is hire local counsel. I found Mr. Shigley by surfing the web, and we got a listening ear. He was realistic, professional and worked very hard in our behalf. Not only that, he showed a genuine concern for our family, and ran interference for us on a number of issues relative to our case. If I had it to do over again, I would have hired him sooner." Carolyn R., Newnan, GA
"After my parents were killed in a tractor truck accident on December 2013, he fought hard against the insurance companies to help my brother, sister, and I. He was honest and always available to answer any questions I had. Ken went out of his way to meet with my brother and I while on vacation in New England. He was awesome in explaining everything to us in detail and looked out for us with every step of the lawsuit. I would highly recommend him." Joan M., Client, Massachusetts
"I first met Ken when I watched him try a very difficult case involving catastrophic injuries. He was an incredibly effective advocate and was able to obtain justice for his client. I have since come to know him as one of the state's leading trial lawyers, particularly in trucking cases, which involves complex regulatory and legal issues not involved in other types of cases. I do not hesitate to recommend Ken for any kind of personal injury case." John H., Attorney, Atlanta
"Ken Shigley is an excellent trial lawyer in the area of commercial trucking. He knows the specialized rules for handling truck wreck cases for the victims and their families when tractor-trailers leave a devastating loss, catastrophic injuries and deaths. He is an advocate who understands the impact on his clients and is highly effective in bringing them justice." Myles E., Attorney, Atlanta