If you experience injuries after crashing with a commercial truck, the process of determining liability is sometimes more complicated than with a car crash. Even if the truck driver is noticeably impaired or negligent, proving liability requires examining multiple factors.
New York alone saw 10,742 large truck crashes in 2014. Questions often come up regarding who is responsible in a truck accident—the driver, the trucking company, or both. In a truck accident, the trucking company could be held indirectly responsible for the driver’s actions.
About the Factors Leading to a Trucking Accident
According to a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on the causation for large truck accidents, a variety of factors can contribute to a collision, some of which include driver negligence or inexperience.
For example, if a driver did not observe regulations regarding hours of service and rest, or if they failed to have their vehicle properly inspected, the driver could be liable for the accident.
Understanding Who Is Liable for Damages in a Trucking Accident
If the driver operates by the scope of their duties, the employer (i.e., the trucking company) is responsible for their errors. Despite this liability rule, some trucking companies try to avoid liability and financial responsibility by stating that their driver is an independent contractor.
When you file a truck accident injury claim, the trucking company is typically the defendant. Therefore, the award you receive for your damages comes from their liability insurance company.
FMCSA Regulations, 49 C.F.R. §390.5 removes the distinction between independent contractor and employee. According to this law, all truck drivers, no matter their status, are considered employees of trucking companies. You can preempt these types of problems by securing an experienced legal team.
Proving Negligence in a Trucking Accident Claim
Just like any other vehicle crash, truck accident cases must prove that a party acted negligently. This proof must also establish that the victim’s injuries were the direct result of said negligence. During trucking accident cases, your lawyer must prove:
- The truck company, driver, or other third party owed reasonable or duty of care to you
- The truck company, driver, or other third party failed to meet that reasonable duty of care
- Your injuries were the direct result of this behavior
- Damages were accrued
Even though these steps to establish proof of negligence are straightforward, that does not mean proving who is at fault is not going to be difficult.
A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Build Your Case
There are many factors regarding who is responsible for a truck accident and you have a right to legal representation to help determine fault. Factors that trucking accident attorneys focus on regarding building a successful case include:
- Federal trucking violations
- How to collect and preserve evidence
- Evidence trucking companies typically lose or forget
- Recoverable damages
Minimum Liability Requirements for Truck Drivers
According to federal law, all truck drivers must have minimum liability coverage if an accident occurs. Under this coverage, insurance is available for the trucker’s property damage and bodily injuries if they are responsible for the crash. While many insurance companies offer higher levels of coverage, a trucker must carry a minimum liability policy.
Recoverable Damages for a Trucking Accident
There are immediate and long-term consequences victims and their families may face following a trucking accident. With an attorney’s help, you can work toward receiving recoverable damages to help cover expenses. Damages you can collect include:
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Property damage
- Loss of consortium
- Lost wages or disability
- Pain and suffering
Recoverable damages always depend on the specifics of your case. Working with an experienced legal team means you are using every possible resource to recover a fair amount of compensation.
Gathering Evidence to Determine Liability After a Truck Accident
Your truck accident lawyer can review a variety of data after a commercial truck collision to determine what happened and who all may be liable. This evidence includes:
- Photos taken at the crash scene
- Reports from the police
- Notes of damage done to the truck and other vehicles in the wreck
- Data from the wrecked truck’s black box
- The trucker’s activity logs
- Statements from witnesses and trucking company employees
- Trucking company records
- A court order
In some cases, accident reconstruction specialists may be consulted for a forensic analysis and interpretation of the scene of the crash.
What if Multiple Parties Caused the Truck Accident?
If an investigation shows that several parties could possibly be responsible for a truck accident, you may be able to maximize the compensation you obtain through multiple claims.
A trucking company will work quickly after the crash through its legal team to close out any claims and offer fast, seemingly generous settlements. If you accept this offer before your accident has been fully investigated by an experienced attorney, you may have accepted far less than you deserve and have unknowingly signed away your right to seek more.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can investigate the crash and develop solid cases against any of the potential liable parties: negligent drivers, trucking companies, manufacturers and distributors, vendors and other third parties.
Choose the Right Lawyer to Help With Your Truck Accident Claim
If you experienced an injury from a trucking accident, you’ll want to connect with a reputable personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Choosing the right truck accident lawyer for your case can significantly alter its outcome.
A truck accident lawyer can help you recover compensation for property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering you endured following the collision. The right attorney can work diligently and aggressively to maximize compensation from all available sources.