Everyone tries to avoid any accident, but drivers especially try to avoid an accident with a commercial truck. Getting into an accident with a commercial truck can easily lead to severe injuries or death. In the aftermath of an accident, you need to recover financial compensation for tending to your injuries and property damage.
But who is to blame after getting into an accident with a commercial truck driver? Trucking companies are responsible for keeping their trucks safe, including adequately maintaining them and ensuring that the company hires and keeps well-qualified employees on staff.
If you have been in an accident with a commercial truck driver, call a truck accident attorney in your area to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
To learn more about how a trucking company can be held responsible for its actions and the specific actions of its employees, continue reading.
What Is Vicarious Liability?
Vicarious liability is a legal theory that allows an accident victim to sue an employer and an employee if they suffer harm because of the employee’s negligence. If a commercial truck driver causes an accident, the trucking company they work for may also be responsible for your harm.
Holding both the driver and the trucking company responsible for your injuries is important because the company likely has much greater financial resources than its employee. Truckers must carry a minimum amount of insurance, but the cost of treating your injuries may exceed their insurance policy limits.
How to Prove That a Trucking Company Contributed to My Injuries
To prove that a trucking company must take responsibility for its employee’s actions, an accident victim must prove:
- That the driver was employed by the trucking company at the time of the accident
- The trucking company had the authority to control the driver’s actions. The driver must be an employee of the company for the company to accept liability for the employee’s actions. If a driver is an independent contractor, the trucking company may not be liable for the actions of an independent contractor.
- The driver was completing a trip for the trucking company when the accident happened.
Truck accident attorneys have the training to help accident victims build their cases to prove that the truck driver and the trucking company are at fault for the accident. Proving an accident can be difficult, so if you or a loved one have been in an accident with a commercial truck, contact a truck accident attorney in your area to speak to someone about your claim and how to protect your legal rights.
Failure to Properly Maintain Trucks
Trucking companies must keep truck maintenance up to date. If a company does not properly maintain its trucks, it is responsible for any harm caused by mechanical failure. As with other vehicles, accidents with commercial trucks can happen due to problems with the truck itself. For example, if the brakes are faulty and the company knew or should have known about the defect but did not correct it, the company is liable for any injuries.
A trucking company must ensure that it hires qualified professionals. If the company fails to do so, then it may be liable for the harm the employee causes to another person. This cause of action is called negligent hiring. To prove negligent hiring, an injury victim must prove that the company hired a driver that it knew or should have known had an extensive accident record or with a pattern of causing harm.
An injury victim may have a case against a trucking company for negligent hiring if their injuries happen because of an unqualified or no longer qualified driver.
Trucking companies are responsible for evaluating their employees, and the company must make sure that its employees remain qualified for the position. A trucking company may be liable for the actions of their employees if the company becomes aware of an employee’s limitations that put others at risk but does not fire the employee.
A driver may have been initially qualified to work as a commercial truck driver, but their ability may have declined over the course of their employment. Examples of what may cause an employee to lose their ability to operate a commercial truck can include a decline in the driver’s health, increased alcohol use, and the driver’s accident history.
Failure to Supervise
All employers must effectively supervise their employees. A trucking company is no exception. If a trucking company fails to supervise its employees properly, then the company is responsible for the harm the employee inflicts on a third party.
A trucking company fails to properly supervise its drivers if it does know or should have known about an employee’s failure to meet company standards. If the company does not address and fix the failure and the employee causes injury to a third party, the injured party may have a claim for failure to supervise the trucking company.
Not Enough Insurance Coverage
The United States Department of Transportation requires truck drivers and trucking companies to carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage before putting trucks on the road. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the federal department that is responsible for setting the insurance coverage requirements for truck drivers and trucking companies.
According to the FMCSA, trucking companies and truck drivers must carry a minimum amount of insurance coverage. For trucks that carry freight, the minimum amount of liability insurance is between $750,000 and $5,000,000. Truck drivers and trucking companies may face civil penalties if they do not carry enough insurance. A truck accident attorney can help assist you if a truck driver or trucking company does not have enough insurance to cover your damages.
Common Injuries Caused by Accidents With Commercial Trucks
The sheer size of commercial trucks means that an accident with one of these vehicles can lead to tragic injuries, even death. It is likely that if you get into an accident with a commercial truck, you will suffer injuries and incur medical bills that need coverage. The person or company that is responsible for your harm should be paying the bills, not you.
Examples of injuries that typically happen after a crash with a commercial truck include:
- Internal bleeding
- Soft tissue injuries, including muscles sprains and strains
- Traumatic Brain Injuries and other head injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
What Should I Do After an Accident?
After an accident, it is essential that you make protecting your legal rights and tending to your medical needs your priority. After an accident, get medical attention immediately. You may suffer from internal injuries or a concussion that you may not know about unless you get medical attention. Seeing a doctor is also crucial to your case as well as claiming your injury.
Every accident victim must prove that the truck driver or trucking company caused the accident. Connecting your injuries to the accident is the best way to prove that they stemmed from the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company. You will have a much easier time connecting your injuries to the accident if you get medical attention as soon as possible after the accident.
After seeing a doctor, contact an experienced truck accident attorney immediately. Truck accident attorneys can help protect your legal right to compensation after an accident with a commercial truck. If you delay contacting an attorney after an accident, you risk losing your legal right to compensation. For example, if you fail to meet the deadline for filing a lawsuit, known as a statute of limitations, you will lose your right to sue. Getting a truck accident attorney involved quickly after an accident decreases your chances of losing the right to your claim based on a technicality.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
Truck accident attorneys are skilled in protecting your legal interests after an accident. If you or a family member suffered an injury in an accident with a commercial truck driver, you need an experienced truck accident attorney to help you pursue the compensation that you deserve. A truck accident attorney can help you in the following ways:
Investigate the Cause of the Accident
Your truck accident claim will be won based on the facts of the case. That is why it is vital for you and your attorney to have a strong understanding of the facts of the accident. An experienced truck accident attorney will work with other professionals to help put together a complete picture of what happened during the accident. Even if the cause of an accident seems straightforward, there may be multiple factors that contribute to the accident, like poorly maintained roads or vehicles, improper signage, or distracted driving.
Negotiate With the Insurance Company
A truck accident attorney has experience in negotiating with the insurance company. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and insurance adjusters focus on increasing the company’s profit margin. Unrepresented accident victims are more likely to leave money on the table if they attempt to negotiate a settlement for their accident claim with an insurance company without an attorney.
If you or a family member have suffered an injury in an accident with a commercial truck driver, call a truck accident attorney in your area to ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Speak With Debt Collectors and Hospital Billing Departments on Your Behalf
Your truck accident attorney will speak to debt collectors about your payments, including the billing department at the hospital that treated you immediately after the accident. Communication from the hospital and other debt collection agencies can be funneled directly to your attorney so that you can focus solely on your recovery.
Identify All Potentially Responsible Parties
It is essential to identify all potentially responsible parties in a truck accident and name them in the lawsuit, especially in a truck accident case. If you get into an accident with a commercial truck driver, you may have a claim against the trucking company for whom the driver works. The company has much greater resources than the driver to cover your injuries.
An experienced truck accident attorney can help ensure that you name all potentially responsible parties to increase your chances of fully recovering financially after an accident with a commercial truck.
Help File a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit can get complicated. This is likely your first encounter with the civil legal system, and the opposing party will rely on your inexperience. An experienced truck accident attorney will know what rules to follow, what claims to allege, and what defenses to anticipate from the other side of the case. You can rely on an experienced truck accident attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
What if I Cannot Afford an Attorney?
A major concern that many accident victims have is how to pay for legal representation. Fortunately, in most states, truck accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee payment structure is an agreement between an attorney and client where the client agrees that they will pay the attorney’s fee for legal services only if the client receives a monetary settlement.
Both the attorney and the client must sign a written, clear contingency fee agreement. Typical terms of a contingency fee agreement include the percentage of the settlement the attorney will receive as payment and who will pay litigation costs. Litigation costs are fees associated with a lawsuit, including filing fees, postage, etc. An attorney may prepay any litigation costs and get reimbursed by the client after settlement, or the client may pay litigation costs as they arise.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
If you or a family member have been in an accident with a commercial truck driver, you need a personal injury attorney to help you successfully navigate a claim for damages. There is no need to go it alone after an accident. Contact a truck accident attorney in your area to protect your legal rights and get the money you deserve so you can recover in peace.