A vehicle accident involving a truck, also commonly known as the "big rig," is much different from a standard passenger vehicle accident for many reasons. The aftermath of these accidents often results in catastrophic and life-changing injuries, especially to the passenger vehicle's occupants.
"In truck accidents, do I sue the driver or the trucking company?" is a common and necessary question that most people will ask after suffering injuries and damages in a crash. To determine who is at fault or who sue, you should consider retaining the services of a knowledgeable and credible truck accident attorney. This blog will discuss how to determine whom to sue for your injuries and damages resulting from a truck accident.
What to Do on the Aftermath of a Truck Accident Before Determining the Accident Liability
Before discussing how to determine whom to sue, you must understand how to preserve your evidence in the aftermath of a truck accident to increase your chances of achieving adequate compensation for your losses. While truck drivers are the most careful drivers on the road because of their vehicle's size and the nature of their freights, personal injury cases involving truck accidents are still on the rise.
The actions you take immediately in the aftermath of a truck accident can determine whether you will achieve adequate compensation for your injuries and damages or not. Below are crucial steps to take on the aftermath of a truck accident to protect your legal rights and interests:
Do Not Admit the Accident Liability
The aftermath of a truck accident can be confusing, and you might even feel liable for the incident. In whatever you say, if you decide to speak, you should be careful not to say anything that could mean acceptance of the accident liability.
Most of the time, the truck driver will confront you aggressively so that you can admit the accident fault even if he/she is entirely liable for driving under the influence or speeding. To avoid giving information that he/she might use against you during a compensation claim, you should remain calm and quiet if possible or insist on speaking to an attorney.
Call the Police
If you Don't have any severe injuries requiring immediate medical attention, you should remain at the truck accident scene until the police arrive to document the accident information.
Following a truck accident, the police accident report contains all the vital evidence and information your attorney will need to build a strong compensation claim against the liable party.
Seek Medical Attention
Because of the possibility of internal injuries following a truck accident, you should never undermine the need to seek medical attention. Visit a reliable medical expert for the diagnosis and treatment you need for full healing and recovery so that you can continue with your daily activities as soon as possible.
Remember to keep a medical journal for all your medical and medication costs to act as evidence to prove your losses during a compensation claim.
Contact an Experienced and Reputable Attorney
Finally, to calculate all the costs you deserve as compensation for all your losses and determine whom to sue in the truck accident incident that led to your injuries, it is vital to speak to an attorney. After accessing your truck accident case details, an experienced personal injury attorney can determine who is liable for your injuries and losses without a hassle.
Ensure you provide your attorney with every vital information he/she might need for your truck accident case, including all eyewitnesses' contact details in case you need them to testify during a lawsuit.
Do I Sue the Driver or the Trucking Company?
Operating trucks is an inherently dangerous occupation, which is why trucking companies and truck drivers must adhere to specific strict regulations and limitations to avoid foreseeable accidents. Understanding these regulations and the state laws on truck accident cases is vital when building an injury or wrongful death claim following a crash.
The matter of whom to sue for compensation following a truck accident is a vital and critical question that any person in your position would ask. Often, at a glance, you may think the truck driver is liable for your injuries and damages, but the trucking company could be liable as well.
Below we will discuss more on instances when the truck driver or the trucking company is liable for your injuries and damages, respectively:
When the Truck Driver is Liable
If the truck driver who was on the wheel during the accident incident were operating as an independent contractor instead of working for a company directly, it would make sense to sue the truck driver. Trucking companies are often liable for their truck drivers' mistakes like speeding or distracted driving under "respondeat superior law," but independent contractors are not certainly employees.
If the truck driver was the truck owner, covers his/her repair and maintenance needs, and receives payment per route basis, you will have a strong compensation claim against the driver. However, if the truck driver was operating within his/her employment scope, you should consider filing your claim against the trucking company.
To establish if the truck driver was operating within the scope of his/her employment, the court will consider the following factors:
- The intent of the truck driver at the time of the accident incident
- The type and nature of the work, the truck driver, was performing during the time of the accident incident
- The time, place, and nature of the truck driver's conduct
- Reasonable acts the employer expected of the truck driver
- The freedom the truck driver has to accomplish his/her duties
For instance, it would be reasonable to argue the truck driver was acting within the scope of his/her employment if he/she was making a delivery during the truck accident incident. Even though the truck driver might be partially liable for your injuries and damages, a reliable attorney will advise you to sue the trucking company for the driver's mistake.
Suing the trucking company for their driver's mistakes is a wise idea because they have enough resources to manage your lost wages, medical expenses, and other damages resulting from the crash.
When the Trucking Company is Liable
In general, trucking companies are liable for their truck drivers' actions if the actions were unintentional and the truck driver was operating within the scope of his/her employment. There are several ways the trucking company can influence a truck accident or crash, for example:
Hiring Prospective Truck Drivers Without Performing a Background Check
The trucking industry follows strict regulations and laws to ensure safety on roadways, and one of these regulations is the proper training and certification of a truck driver. When a trucking company hires potential drivers, they have a legal obligation to ensure every driver they choose to hire is well trained and qualified to perform the work.
Suppose any unqualified driver passes this background and qualification check criteria and starts working. In that case, the employer should be liable for injuries and damages the truck driver causes while on the road.
Forcing Their Truck Drivers to Operate Without Rest Due to Unrealistic Schedules
Most trucking companies will give their drivers money incentives to motivate them to drive without resting, which is dangerous and against the law. Federal hours of services regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver should or can drive consecutively without rest to avoid fatigue-related accidents.
Typically, truck drivers are bound to an 11-hour daily driving limit when they are ferrying cargo and a 10-hour daily limit when carrying passengers. Trucking companies are aware of the dangers their truck drivers pose on roadways when they drive consecutively without rest, but the profit is also too good.
Suppose fatigue was the cause of the truck accident that led to your injuries under those kinds of circumstances. In that case, the trucking company should be liable for your damages and all other losses resulting from the accident.
Poorly Maintained Trucks
Although trucking companies are responsible for ensuring their trucks are well maintained and road-worthy, sometimes it doesn't happen. Most trucking companies will cut down repair and maintenance costs of their trucks to save money which is risky because a faulty brake system can cause catastrophic crashes.
It is vital to properly adjust side-view and rear mirrors to ensure an excellent viewing area to reduce blind spot accidents. An experienced and skilled truck accident attorney can help you establish whether the cause of the accident that led to your injuries was a truck's part malfunction like brakes or side-view mirrors.
Excessive Cargo Loading or Poorly Secured Cargo
Before a truck driver embarks on his/her route to deliver goods, the trucking company should ensure the cargo is secure and there isn't any overloading because it is unlawful and dangerous. However, most companies tend to ignore these crucial safety requirements, which play a vital role in minimizing truck accidents.
A truck that is ferrying an excessive weight load can roll-over even when rounding a moderate corner on the road, spilling its freight or cargo across the roadway. When trucking companies who often transport steel pipes fail to check whether straps which hold these pipes in place are effective or not, there could be consequences if the straps are wearing out.
When a truck trailer straps wear out or become loose as the truck travels down a gently sloping area, it can spill its cargo even with a slight shift in the roadway. Any cargo shifting while the truck is in motion, can lead to jackknifing or a rollover accident.
While trucking companies have enough financial resources to cover for injuries and damages their truck drivers cause on the road, they will not lose the fight without a blow. You will need a reliable attorney by your side to fight for your best interest throughout the case because these types of lawsuits have special considerations in court, which can influence the outcome of your case.
Damages You Could Win When You Determine Whom to Sue in A Truck Accident
When you figure whom to sue after a truck accident and file your lawsuit, you could be eligible for various types of damages to manage the aftermath of the accident, including your vehicle repair needs. Typically, depending on your unique case facts, you might be eligible to receive the following types of damages when everything goes well with a lawsuit against the at-fault party:
You will receive economic damages for all your current and future monetary losses following a truck accident that the defendant was at fault, for example:
- Lost wages
- Medical and medication costs
- Therapy costs
- Lost earning capacity
- Vehicle repair costs
State laws on personal injury also recognize the possibility of losses in the aftermath of a truck accident that are non-compensable in monetary terms and are known as non-economic damages. Some of these types of losses include:
- Mental anguish
- Loss of the capacity to enjoy life due to loss of body limbs
- Loss of a consortium
- Pain and suffering
In addition to the above damages, you might also qualify for punitive damages. Punitive damages are available in truck accident cases that involve wilful or malicious negligence. For instance, if the truck driver's intoxication was the cause of the accident that led to your injuries, the driver might be subject to a fine or prison term to act as a punishment to deter other drivers with that kind of behavior.
In conclusion, to have a valid compensation claim, you should bear in mind that time is of the essence. After suffering injuries and incurring losses in a truck accident, you have a maximum of four years to file an injury claim against the at-fault party and two years if you are filing a wrongful death claim for the loss of a family member.
Find a Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
The aftermath of a truck accident can be extremely stressful not only because of the serious injury you are likely to suffer but also because it can be overwhelming to determine whom to sue for your damages. Experienced attorneys at Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney can help you break down your unique case to determine who is at fault in the truck accident incident and how to pursue your compensation.
Contact us today at 904-800-7557 and discuss your truck accident case with our skilled and credible attorneys for legal representation and guidance in pursuing your compensation.