Personal injury law specifically allows you the legal avenue to sue someone personally after a truck accident. However, that is not always the most advisable place to start when looking for compensation for your losses. Most auto accident cases, including those involving commercial trucks, are settled outside the courtroom. With solid evidence to show the other party’s negligence and recoverable damages, you can typically convince the insurance company to offer a fair settlement before taking the case to trial. With the help of a truck accident lawyer, you could likely do it faster and recover more money.
Who Could Be Liable for Your Truck Accident?
Negligence in truck accident cases can quickly become a challenge. Sometimes you face more than one defendant or more than one claim, depending on the actual cause of your accident. To better understand the correct legal move, you need to identify the responsible party for your accident, starting with hiring a lawyer to investigate the crash. First, consider who could potentially be liable in a truck accident case.
Whether employed by a trucking company or working as an independent contractor, the driver could be solely or partially responsible for the accident under several circumstances:
- If they violated the laws of the road, such as driving recklessly, speeding, running traffics lights or signs, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or driving while distracted or fatigued
- If they drove the truck outside of the scope of their job, such as using it to run errands
- If they violated the federally mandated safety standards to which all truck drivers must adhere
- If they own the truck and failed to maintain it or perform inspections properly
- If they loaded the cargo without securing it or checking the weight
Getting the compensation you need in a case involving the truck driver as the sole at-fault party can be relatively straightforward, depending on the exact cause of the accident. However, many cases involve negligent behavior from other parties as well.
The Driver’s Employer
The law recognizes a close relationship between the driver and the trucking company for which they work. As a result, the trucking company is sometimes vicariously liable through the driver. Some responsibilities of the truck company include:
- Training drivers to operate, maintain, inspect, and load their trucks
- Teaching drivers to keep an activity log while on the road to ensure they perform within the company and federal safety standards
- Doing background checks on drivers before onboarding to ensure they have no history of recurring road law violations, particularly with DUI or DWI offenses
- Doing regular inspections and maintenance on trucks to ensure they are always in top working order
Failure to withhold these responsibilities is a breach of the duty of care owed to their drivers and other people on the road.
An Outside Party
Other parties play a road in the trucking industry. When a third party fails to uphold its responsibilities, causing an accident, it can be held liable. Some potential third parties involved in trucking include:
- An outsourced mechanic. Suppose the trucking company hires another company to take on the responsibility of inspecting and maintaining the trucks. In that case, that company is liable if anything goes wrong on the road, causing an accident.
- A cargo loading party. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration mandates weight restrictions and cargo securing rules to keep trucks from shifting or spilling loads in transit. Any person or party loading a commercial truck must understand and adhere to those conditions or risk liability if cargo issues cause an accident.
- A parts manufacturer. Anytime a company manufactures and distributions a product, they are responsible for ensuring that it is safe when used according to company instructions. If a part malfunctions on a truck without human error interference, the manufacturer could be liable for the damages caused by an accident.
These cases can get exceptionally complex when more than one party is liable. For example, suppose the brake system suddenly stopped working without reason while the truck driver was speeding to get to their stop faster. In that case, you could file a claim against the driver for violating road laws and the brake system manufacturer for making a faulty product. In this case, you would even have two separate lawsuits. You would file a truck accident case against the driver and a product liability case against the manufacturer, doubling your responsibility to provide proof of negligence.
When Would You Sue Someone Personally?
Under certain circumstances, you may need to sue someone personally. For example, if the truck driver is self-employed and does not carry insurance, you would sue the driver personally. However, these cases do not always have an ideal outcome, even when you are within your rights to sue. An individual may not have the income or assets to provide a lump sum settlement, and sometimes, the best you can do is collect small installments over a long period. Thankfully, this scenario is rare in truck accidents. You will typically go through an insurance company to collect, and the payout can be substantial when the defendant is a large company.
Can You Still Sue if You Are Partially Responsible?
Not all truck accidents result in negligence on the part of one party. If you share responsibility for the accident, you are partially responsible for damages according to the comparative negligence rule adopted by most states. If your state follows the pure comparative negligence rule, your portion of fault does not affect your ability to receive compensation unless you are entirely at fault. In a modified comparative negligence state, you can only recover damages if you are less to blame than the defendant. In either case, you will recover damages less the percentage of fault you bear.
How Could a Truck Accident Lawyer Help You Build Your Case To Sue?
Truck accident lawsuits are highly emotionally charged, given the substantial losses and the high financial stakes for victims. There is no legal requirement for hiring a truck accident attorney to handle your case, but you have everything to gain from having representation. At the same time, you can concentrate on recovering from your injuries or mourning the loss of your loved one. As the person filing a lawsuit, the burden of proof fails on you. First, you must prove that the defendant owed you a duty of care, breached it, and caused an accident that resulted in your injuries. Then, you must provide sufficient evidence to support the damages you claim. Proving negligence in a truck accident case can become highly complex. Adding to that the challenge of collecting all the evidence you need for damages, you can see how trying to sue on your own could quickly become too overwhelming.
At Cellino Law, we understand the importance of recovering every dime needed to help get your life back on track. Our team of proficient lawyers has years of experience working with truck accident victims and their families to build a water-tight case with substantial evidence and better your chances of receiving a fast settlement that adequately reflects what is owed to you. We collaborate with all the necessary experts and are always available to answer your questions and provide a supportive presence. Contact Cellino Law for your free consultation today. You can call any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 800-555-5555 to schedule your meeting with a truck accident lawyer.