Who Is Responsible if I’m Injured in an Accident With a Semi-Truck?
Truck accidents are, without question, some of the deadliest accidents Helping the Hurt has ever dealt with. When a large commercial truck weighing more than 80,000 pounds collides with a regular passenger vehicle, the results can be catastrophic. The car or motorcycle occupants are always the ones who sustain the most severe, life-threatening injuries.
If the truck driver is the liable party and is to blame for the accident, the other party can file a personal injury claim to get maximum compensation for their injuries and damages. If you were recently involved in an accident involving a semi-truck and you're seeking compensation for injuries and other damages, it's essential to know who will be held liable.
Commercial truck accidents are more complicated than car accidents because various parties could be partially negligent.
Was the vehicle's manufacturer responsible? Should you demand compensation from the trucking company or the semi-truck driver?
In the blog below, we will talk about who you can file a claim against if you were involved in an accident with a commercial truck.
Table of Contents:
- What Are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
- Who Can I Sue After a Truck Accident?
- Compensation From Truck Accident Lawsuits
- Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
What Are Common Causes of Truck Accidents?
Like car accidents, many semi-truck accidents are caused by human error. Truck drivers often drive recklessly. They must adhere to strict, unrealistic schedules to get their cargo to its destination.
Some of the most common causes of trucking accidents are:
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol- Drivers take "uppers" to stay awake for extended periods but then turn to alcohol when needing to sleep. Impaired or drunk driving is sadly a widespread occurrence.
Driver Error- Driving recklessly
Driver Fatigue- Unrealistic driver schedules cause commercial truck drivers to push themselves past their limit.
Transporting an Unsecured Load- Improperly loaded cargo can cause contents to shift or spill out into the road.
Unfamiliarity With the Roadway
Traffic Flow Interruption- Coming upon a previous crash or traffic congestion.
Violating Other Traffic Laws
Tire Blowouts- Trucking companies re-tread their tires to save money. Re-treaded tires are more likely to have a blowout.
The cause of a trucking accident can be hard to spot, especially for an untrained eye. That's why it's always a good idea to work with a personal injury attorney that understands the complex factors involved and will work to hold those at fault responsible, whether it's the truck company or the truck driver.
Who Can I Sue After a Truck Accident?
If you've suffered devastating injuries in a trucking accident, you deserve fair compensation.
Unlike other personal injury cases, truck crashes are not easy to prove. Winning your personal injury lawsuit will be challenging if you didn't hire an experienced lawyer. If you were not the at-fault party, it might be burdensome to determine who is.
Truck crashes involve several, often confusing, trucking laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry or unique factors that may have caused the accident. Knowing who is liable is essential to the success of your truck accident claim.
Along with your personal injury lawyer, you may be able to sue any of the following negligent parties; the truck driver, the trucking company, or the shipping company.
The Truck Driver
Driver negligence is the cornerstone of most accident lawsuits, including those involving commercial trucks and passenger vehicles.
Examples of driver negligence are driving under the influence, running stop signs and red lights, and distracted driving. According to the Federal Hours of Service Regulation, commercial truck drivers who violate trucking regulations could be liable for a truck collision. This regulation restricts the number of hours truckers should be on the road without sleep. Driver fatigue is one of the most common causes of a tractor-trailer crash. If a truck driver is found to be the responsible party in the accident, they would have to compensate the injured party for medical expenses and property damage. Truck accident victims should be compensated through the truck insurance company if they have an active policy.
The Trucking Company
If the truck driver is driving a company truck, the trucking company could be held responsible. Companies can be held liable for the actions of their employees under the condition that the actions were unintentional and committed with the reasonable scope of their job.
Since the trucking firm is responsible for the actions of their employees when they drive company trucks, they are also responsible for ensuring that their employees are adequately trained and qualified to perform their job duties. If a driver and their company are found at fault, truck accident victims can sue the driver for damages and the company they drive for.
The Shipping Company
The shipping company may also play a role in a trucking accident and be part of the settlement from the insurance company.
If a cargo loader puts too much cargo in the truck, it could easily shift and cause an accident. Overloaded trucks are susceptible to rolling or flipping on their side. If the trucker turns quickly or travels at high speeds, the truck could turn over from the heavy cargo.
Flipping also occurs when truck drivers encounter heavy winds or any inclement weather. The shipping company and the truck driver could both easily be responsible and share the liability.
Compensation From Truck Accident Lawsuits
Due to the overwhelming size of trucks, when they collide with much smaller passenger vehicles, it typically results in severe and catastrophic injuries.
Fortunately, most states allow victims of truck accidents to get compensation following a collision with a large commercial truck. If you live in an at-fault state, the liable driver and other liable parties are required to cover bills for you for injuries and any property damage you incur.
The problem is if you live in the following states:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
The states above are considered no-fault states. As a driver in a no-fault state, you must use your own insurance policy to cover your injuries and damages, even if you were not at fault for your accident. There are special circumstances if your injury is a catastrophic injury or you suffered a serious impairment. There are instances where the family of a loved one, typically the surviving spouse, the truck accident victim's parents, or the victim's children, can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible party. To bring a lawsuit against someone for wrongful death, you need to prove that the cause of one party's death was because of another party's negligence.
In order to win a wrongful death lawsuit, you will need an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side who can help you prove that the other driver was negligent and caused the fatal crash.
Types of Truck Accident Damages
The compensation payment is divided into three types of damages: economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages. These damages are intended to compensate the accident victim for losses suffered.
Economic and non-economic damages include:
If the accident causes a fatality, compensation would also include funeral costs and burial expenses. Ask your truck accident lawyer in your state if you qualify for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Punitive damages are awarded in cases of gross negligence. Examples of gross negligence are extreme recklessness, fraud, intentional harm, malice, or oppression. A judge utilizes punitive damages to punish a defendant and set an example. In either case, the driver's insurance coverage would take care of the payment.
Hiring an expert truck accident lawyer is crucial when submitting a claim for compensation. Yes, you will pay your accident lawyer a percentage of your settlement. The upside is that having a lawyer file a lawsuit to hold the trucking firm accountable almost always pays out larger sums of financial compensation. Lack of a legal team and knowledge could hurt your legal outcome.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
Speaking with an experienced truck accident attorney is essential if you've been involved in a truck collision because commercial vehicle accidents are more complex than car accident cases. To receive fair compensation after a serious trucking accident, your accident lawyer can help you find what your claim is worth, who is at fault, why the accident occurred, and how to prove it.
The experienced attorneys with Helping The Hurt can take care of it all for you. If you were injured due to an accident with a commercial truck, schedule your free consultation with the experienced truck accident lawyers at Helping The Hurt today.