Semi Accident Lawyer Representing Injury Victims in Dubuque, Iowa

If you need an expert in Dubuque truck crash cases, you are in the right place. RSH Legal attorneys have represented victims of Dubuque tractor-trailer collisions for over 30 years. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for those Iowans.

Living in Dubuque means sharing the road with large trucks. For many years, Dubuque’s economy has centered on manufacturing companies like John Deere, Flexsteel, Hormel, Andersen Windows & Doors, and A.Y. McDonald Manufacturing. These facilities all attract a steady stream of semi-trucks.

For that reason, Dubuque’s four U.S. Highways (U.S. Highway 20, U.S. Highway 151, U.S. Highway 61, and U.S. Highway 52) and one state highway (Iowa Highway 3) all have a lot of 18-wheeler traffic, and many truckers use Dubuque area truck stops like Kwik Stop – Dubuque, BP Auto Truck Plaza, Highway 20 Auto Truck Plaza and Kwik Stop – Peosta.

In addition, Dubuque, Iowa is home to trucking companies like Hirschbach Motorlines, Inc., Quest Logistics, All Seasons Trucking, and Art Pape Transfer. The result is that there are a lot of trucks on the road in Dubuque County, Iowa, and there are too many truck wrecks in the city of Dubuque, in particular.

Need expert advice on Dubuque tractor-trailer collisions? Call RSH Legal at 1-800-433-0283 today.

Attorney Tim Semelroth is the first and only Iowa truck accident lawyer who is board-certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in Trucking Accident Law.

Common Myths about Dubuque Truck Accident Claims

According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, approximately 50-100 serious tractor-trailer accidents cause death or major injury every year.

Even with so many injuries and deaths every year, dangerous myths remain about what should happen after a Dubuque truck accident. We want to clear up the confusion surrounding the following misconceptions:

MYTH: If the truck accident wasn’t your fault, you will get compensation.

It takes more than getting injured in a semi-truck wreck to get compensation. The person responsible for the wreck must also have the ability to pay for what you’ve suffered.

Any one of the following scenarios can have a negative impact on a truck accident victim’s ability to receive fair compensation:

  • The trucker had no insurance
  • The trucker did not have enough insurance to cover all the truck accident victim’s harm and losses
  • The trucker does not have eligible property that can be seized to pay for the truck accident victim’s harm and losses

As you can see, it is very important to have enough uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage included in your personal auto insurance policy. Without it, you and your family may be saddled with a lifetime of medical bills and lost wages after a serious truck accident.

MYTH: There is no danger in trying to negotiate a truck accident settlement on your own

Insurance companies – like all corporations – have one job and that is to make money. They make money by collecting insurance premium payments and then paying out as little as possible when claims are made.

Do not be fooled by the insurance industry advertising. After a truck accident, insurance companies are not your “good neighbor,” they are not “on your side,” and you are not “in good hands.”

Why is all that important to remember if you have a truck wreck claim? Because the insurance representative’s goal in a settlement negotiation is not to pay a fair amount, it is to pay the least amount.

When attempting to negotiate a truck accident claim on your own, it is important to remember the following:

  • If you start by asking for too much, it will reveal that you do not understand the system and the insurance representative will stop taking you seriously.
  • If you start by asking for too little, you will set an artificial “ceiling” on what the insurance representative will pay you – even if you are entitled to more.
  • If you agree to settle before figuring out your legal obligations to your health insurance, disability insurance, etc., you may find out that you don’t get to keep any of your settlement money.

How can truck accident victims find out if they have a claim they can deal with personally, without legal representation?

This is another question that can and should be asked of an experienced Iowa truck accident attorney during a free case evaluation. A competent Iowa truck accident attorney should be able to clearly explain any benefits and pitfalls of negotiating your claim without legal representation.

We’ll answer that question and more for you in your free, no-obligation case evaluation. Call our skilled truck accident lawyers at 1-800-433-0283 today.

Why the Clock Is Ticking on your Dubuque Tractor-Trailer Collision Case

The law only allows you a certain amount of time to act after a truck wreck in Iowa.

The most well-known deadline is Iowa’s two-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. In most cases, if you have not settled your case or filed a lawsuit by the 2-year anniversary of your semi wreck, your claim will be barred, and you will have no legal way to get compensation for your crash-related harms and losses.

Unfortunately, calling a lawyer about a Dubuque truck accident a week or two before the 2-year statute of limitations is often too late.

If the truck driver or the trucking company is not from Iowa, it is often necessary to both file the lawsuit against them AND serve them with the lawsuit before the 2-year anniversary of the collision. Service of a lawsuit can take time – particularly when you are trying to serve an over-the-road truck driver who spends a lot of time away from their home address.

To be safe, we prefer to have at least 90 days before the statute of limitations runs to file the lawsuit and serve the necessary defendants.

Even consulting with a lawyer a full year before the 2-year deadline can be harmful to your truck accident case.

That is because the law allows trucking companies to start destroying important evidence – like hours-of-service records, truck driver personnel files, and even semi-truck dash camera video – only six months after a crash. This evidence can sometimes make or break a Dubuque truck wreck case.

If you want to give your Iowa truck accident case the absolute best chance to succeed, you should be consulting with an experienced Iowa truck accident attorney as soon as possible after a tractor-trailer collision. Any personal injury lawyer worth their salt will immediately send an evidence preservation letter on your behalf to the truck driver, the trucking company, and their insurance carrier.

The bottom line is that the sooner you reach out to a lawyer after a semi crash in Dubuque, the more thorough the investigation can be – and you will also not have to worry about running afoul of any legal deadlines.

Thinking you’re close to a deadline? Call 1-800-433-0283 and we’ll answer the questions you have.

Attorney Tim Semelroth is a graduate of the Legacy Corporation Trucking Course for Legal Professionals, which teaches a hands-on approach to trucking crash cases.

How an Inexperienced Lawyer Can Wreck Your Dubuque Truck Accident Case

Tractor-trailer crashes are much more complex than regular car accident cases. Not only are the vehicles very different, but the laws and regulations governing semi-trucks and the people who drive them are also very different.

Without specialized knowledge of the trucking industry, a regular car accident lawyer could wreck your case with any of these common mistakes:

MISTAKE: Failing to investigate whether the trucking company should have put the driver on the road

Many inexperienced lawyers focus only on the careless choices and behavior of the truck driver. This approach can be a missed opportunity in truck crash cases. Experienced truck accident attorneys try to build cases based on a trucking company’s systemic failures rather than the failures of an individual driver.

There are a number of preliminary questions your attorney should be asking about the person driving the truck which hit you that go far beyond questions relating to your specific accident.

  • How did this trucking company train its drivers?
  • What was this driver’s previous driving record, their previous trucking employment record?
  • Did they have disciplinary records related to dangerous driving?
  • How many accidents had this driver gotten into before they hit you?

These questions may seem obvious, but a green truck accident attorney may fail to ask them when such questions could lead to additional claims against the company for negligently hiring, training, or retaining this employee.

Insurance companies know that juries are much more likely to give bigger verdicts against a company that chose not to enforce effective safety policies rather than a single driver who made a split-second mistake.

Don’t leave money on the table because your attorney doesn’t have the experience to know what questions to ask.

MISTAKE: Failing to investigate culpability of all responsible parties

Due to physics, truck accident cases often involve catastrophic injury or death.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations only require interstate trucking companies to have $750,000 in insurance coverage.

That means many small trucking companies today are underinsured if their driver kills or severely injures someone.

If it becomes apparent that a trucking company does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate all of a truck crash victim’s losses, many lawyers do not know how to investigate all potential parties that may have legal responsibility.

In a car accident, it’s fairly easy to identify the parties at fault: you have two drivers, and each driver’s insurance company. What is unique about trucking accident claims is that many different parties could be responsible for what happened to you.

In the trucking industry, it’s not unusual for one company to own the semi-truck, another to own the trailer, and a third to hire and employ the truck driver. There could also be someone else responsible for the load carried in the trailer. Depending on why your crash occurred, some or all these parties could have responsibility for your injuries.

Experienced truck accident lawyers know that you should never settle with a trucking company until you understand the relationships between the parties and how each party’s insurance coverage works. If you don’t, you could be leaving settlement money on the table.

To find out who is truly responsible for your injuries, you need a lawyer to fight for fairness for you. Call RSH Legal at 1-800-433-0283 to speak with one of our experienced truck crash attorneys.

Common Causes of 18-Wheeler Wrecks in Dubuque

Studies show that most large truck accidents can be traced back to several all-too-common causes. This is important because responsible trucking companies should be aware of these common crash factors and should have procedures in place to prevent them.

Hours Of Service Violations (Fatigued Driving)

Fatigue is one of the most common causes of truck crashes. The root cause of fatigued driving typically lies with a trucking company manager’s unsafe choices.

Most trucking companies pay their drivers by the mile, even though the drivers must spend hours loading, unloading, inspecting vehicles, and driving in slow traffic. Trucking companies also push their drivers to deliver loads in a certain time period.

These trucking company choices put truck drivers in the difficult position of choosing between driving more hours than the law allows and making enough money to feed their families.

There are federal regulations in place to keep tired truckers off the road and help them remain alert while driving. A commercial driver is not permitted to drive for more than 11 hours at a time and must take a 10-hour break in-between; they also cannot drive more than 60 hours in one week or 70 hours in eight days.

More rules exist to help protect all drivers on the roads, but sometimes these mandates are not followed because of company scheduling practices, company culture, or individual motivations.

Adverse Weather

Inclement weather can reduce truck driver visibility and make it challenging for truck drivers to control their vehicles. Rain, snow, ice, wind, and fog can cause multi-car and even multi-truck pileups and extensive injuries.

In 2005, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported to Congress that 13% of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes can be attributed to adverse weather.

The starting point for evaluating any truck crash case involving adverse weather is Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations § 392.14, which states:

Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction.

Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist.

If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.

Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases the hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.

While FMCSR § 392.14’s concept of “hazardous conditions” is not limited to adverse weather, the non-exclusive list of examples in the rule is primarily populated with weather conditions.  The trigger for the duty described in the rule is a condition that “adversely affect[s] visibility or traction.”

Attorney Tim Semelroth regularly shares his truck crash case knowledge with other attorneys at seminars and conventions.

RSH Legal, located in Cedar Rapids, handles truck accident claims throughout Iowa, including Dubuque.