Who is liable for a truck accident? Accidents involving large trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs typically result from driver negligence. However, defective truck parts and even roadway defects, such as deep potholes and cracks, may cause these accidents. If an accident results from a truck driver or trucking company’s negligence, the accident victim can file a claim with the appropriate insurance company.
In most instances, the insurance company for the negligent driver is the same as the employer trucking company’s insurer. If the accident results from a defective truck part, the accident victim can bring a claim against the part manufacturer or some other entity in the chain of product distribution.
You are not alone if you or someone you love suffered injuries in a truck accident resulting from negligence. In addition to seeking proper medical care for your injuries, you should talk with a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area who can explore your legal options.
Your lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident and determine who caused it. Your lawyer can then file a claim with the appropriate insurance company and work to negotiate favorable settlement compensation on your behalf. Suppose the insurance company refuses to offer you the monetary damages you deserve. Your lawyer can file a lawsuit in court and litigate your truck accident case to seek the outcome you deserve.
Your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize the compensation you recover for your truck accident injuries.
Potential Damages in Truck Accident Claims and Lawsuits
Truck accident victims who suffer serious injuries may be eligible for various damages. To recover monetary compensation for their injuries, a truck accident victim must establish that the accident resulted from someone else’s negligence, that they suffered an injury, and that their injury directly resulted from the accident.
To establish this causal connection, an accident attorney must retain a medical expert who can testify—to a reasonable degree of medical certainty—that the accident caused the injury. In addition, a medical expert can establish that a particular injury is permanent or unlikely to improve over time.
The damages that a truck accident victim can recover will vary from case to case, depending upon the severity of the injuries and whether or not they are permanent. Generally speaking, a truck accident victim who suffers a permanent injury will be eligible for higher compensation than one who suffered relatively minor injuries in the crash.
First, truck accident victims can pursue monetary compensation for lost earnings if they miss work to attend medical appointments and recuperate from their injuries. If they suffered a permanent injury that prevented them from doing the same job at the same pay rate, they might be eligible to file a claim for loss of earning capacity. As part of a lost earning capacity claim, an accident victim can recover the difference in compensation from their former and current earnings.
In addition, truck accident victims may recover monetary compensation for their inconvenience, pain, suffering, permanent disability, and mental distress stemming from their injuries. If they suffer a permanent injury that prevents them from using one or more body parts, such as full or partial paralysis, they can make a loss of use claim.
Furthermore, suppose their injuries prevent them from spending time with family members and partaking in once-enjoyed activities, such as sports and recreational activities. In that case, they can bring a claim for a loss of life enjoyment. Finally, truck accident victims can bring a claim for loss of spousal companionship and family support related to their injuries.
If you suffer injuries in a truck accident resulting from someone else’s negligence, your lawyer can help you maximize the damages you recover. Your lawyer can do this by highlighting the strengths of your injury case while downplaying any weaknesses. Your lawyer can also aggressively negotiate with the insurance company adjuster and pursue a favorable settlement offer on your behalf.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
Whenever a large truck collides with a smaller vehicle, it is usually the occupants of the smaller vehicle who suffer more severe injuries. This is especially true if the impact occurs at high speeds.
The impact force may knock the accident victim’s body around inside their vehicle, causing them to suffer a muscular contusion or whiplash injury. Moreover, the impact force might cause a part of the accident victim’s body to strike the steering wheel, headrest, window, door frame, or dashboard, resulting in a broken bone or another severe injury.
Truck accident victims also suffer internal organ damage, traumatic head and brain injuries, cuts, abrasions, spinal cord damage, and paralysis. If you suffered any of these injuries in your truck accident, you must seek same-day medical treatment at a local urgent care center or hospital emergency room. This is because many injuries do not show symptoms right away. The symptoms may not appear until days or weeks after the truck accident.
A medical provider at a hospital or urgent care center can order the necessary imaging studies to ascertain your medical condition, including X-rays, MRIs, and brain scans. If you require emergency life-saving care, you can obtain that treatment at the emergency room.
Finally, the medical provider can recommend follow-up treatment for you, depending upon your condition. For instance, after your urgent care visit, you may need to follow up with your family doctor or a specialist, such as a neurologist or an orthopedist.
Seeking same-day medical treatment and appropriate follow-up care for your injuries is essential to your injury case. If you delay seeking this treatment, or if your treatment has significant time gaps, the insurance company adjuster will likely become skeptical. Many adjusters assume that accident victims who delay their treatment do not suffer serious injuries. Therefore, they may not offer you sufficient monetary compensation to resolve your injury claim.
While you focus on recovering from your truck accident injuries, your lawyer can begin handling the legal aspects of your claim. First, your lawyer can gather your lost wage documentation, medical records, and property damage photographs and assemble them into a settlement demand package. After you complete your treatment, your lawyer can send all of this information to the insurance company and begin negotiating a claim settlement on your behalf.
When settling or litigating your claim, you make the final determination. In other words, you—and not your lawyer—are the one who decides whether to accept a pending settlement offer or file a lawsuit and litigate your case in court.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents—and the Parties Who are Responsible
Truck accidents typically happen when drivers behave negligently. Truck driver negligence typically involves acting unreasonably under the circumstances.
Some of the most common types of driver error that lead to truck accidents include:
- Violating motor carrier regulations – Motor carrier regulations typically restrict truck load limits and detail how truck drivers and trucking companies must load cargo onto trailer beds. These regulations also provide for overhead and undercarriage lighting on trucks and trailers. When truck drivers and trucking companies fail to follow these regulations, cargo can slide off the truck and into the road, causing a severe accident with another vehicle. Moreover, when truck drivers and trucking companies do not follow lighting procedures, the truck or trailer may not be visible to an oncoming vehicle, resulting in a crash.
- Violating traffic laws – When truck drivers operate their vehicles recklessly and carelessly, they increase their chances of causing a severe accident. Common traffic violations that lead to truck accidents include speeding, failing to use turn signals, tailgating other vehicles, exhibiting road rage, weaving in and out of highway traffic, and failing to yield the right-of-way at the proper time. Many truck drivers are in a hurry to reach their final destination—sometimes because a trucking company offers them a financial incentive. Consequently, they may resort to careless or reckless driving. However, these careless driving maneuvers can lead to severe accidents which cause unnecessary injuries and deaths.
- Engaging in distracted driving – Distracted driving means ignoring the road. A truck driver may become distracted by loud music playing in their vehicle—or by electronic devices, including GPS devices, cellular phones, and tablets. When a truck driver turns their head away from the road, even for a short period, they might not notice an oncoming vehicle or a pedestrian in the vicinity, causing a crash.
- Driving while drugged or intoxicated – Most drivers are legally intoxicated if a breathalyzer test reveals their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be 0.08 percent or greater. However, truck drivers must typically follow a stricter standard since they are professional drivers. Alcohol, in particular, can significantly impair a driver’s ability to slow down or respond to a roadway emergency. An intoxicated truck driver may stop their vehicle in time to avoid a crash. Moreover, some truck drivers will resort to drugs to stay awake for long hours. However, these drugs sometimes have the opposite effect, and they might make a driver feel drowsy, causing them to fall asleep at the wheel or have difficulty concentrating.
- Fatigued driving – Many trucking companies offer their drivers financial incentives if they get their cargo to its final destination ahead of schedule. Consequently, drivers may take drugs to keep themselves awake. A tired truck driver may have difficulty concentrating and risks falling asleep at the wheel, increasing their chances of causing an accident.
When a truck driver behaves negligently and causes an accident, the accident victim can bring a claim against the driver’s insurance company. However, sometimes trucking companies may also share in the responsibility.
Trucking companies are responsible for their driver’s negligent acts when a driver is on the job and acting within the scope of their employment. Moreover, trucking companies are responsible for hiring only capable, experienced drivers. A trucking company may be negligent if they fail to supervise a driver—or if they hire/retain a driver with a prior bad record—and that driver causes an accident.
In addition to truck drivers and trucking companies, truck repair facilities are sometimes responsible for accidents. Repair facilities must perform all repair work safely and carefully. If they fail to do so and a malfunction occurs when a truck driver is on the road, the repair facility may be responsible. For example, a steering component or braking system might malfunction, preventing the driver from stopping their vehicle and causing a crash.
In addition, some truck accidents happen because of defective parts. Manufacturers and designers must properly construct and test their parts before selling them. When a defective truck part causes an accident, the accident victim can bring a claim against the part manufacturer or distributor.
A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer in your area can review your accident circumstances with you and determine who was responsible. Your lawyer can then file a claim or lawsuit against all potentially responsible individuals and entities and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Call a Truck Accident Lawyer Near You Today
Time is of the essence if you or someone you care about suffered injuries in a recent truck accident. Accident victims typically only have two years from their accident date to file a claim or lawsuit for damages. If you file your lawsuit belatedly, you will not be eligible to recover damages for your injuries. Therefore, the sooner you get a truck accident lawyer on board in your case, the better off you will be.
In addition to investigating the circumstances of your truck accident, your lawyer can file a claim on your behalf, negotiate it, and pursue a fair settlement offer from the insurance company. If litigation becomes necessary in your case, your lawyer can represent you at all court proceedings and zealously advocate for your legal interests there.
With many liable parties possible in your truck accident case, expect legal hurdles, and seek help with your case immediately. Contact a lawyer today to receive your consultation.