If you have sustained life-altering injuries and trauma in a serious crash with a commercial truck, it is only natural to think about your rights. Can you sue the truck driver? Or, thinking more broadly, can you sue the trucking company? The same questions apply for families of truck accident victims who want to know what rights they have and what steps they can take to secure justice after one of these catastrophic events, especially if the crash resulted in a tragic loss of life for the victim.
As a victim or a victim’s family member, you should know that you can sue a trucking company, as well as the driver, and potentially even the manufacturer of the truck’s parts. Of course, to successfully prove these parties are liable, you need to identify an experienced legal professional to guide you through the complexities of these kinds of cases. In addition, to successfully file a claim against any of these parties, you must be able to prove some kind of negligence occurred that resulted in the crash.
From a legal standpoint, accidents involving a commercial vehicle are different from regular accidents involving passenger cars. Commercial trucks, drivers, and trucking companies are subject to a separate set of laws and regulations that affect how victims of crashes involving these vehicles should proceed.
Furthermore, in an accident involving a commercial vehicle and a passenger vehicle, the people in the smaller vehicle are far more vulnerable to serious injuries or even fatalities, due to the simple fact that the commercial truck is so much larger and exponentially heavier. This is yet another reason why competent, knowledgeable accident attorneys are essential for crash victims and their families in the aftermath of one of these life-altering crashes.
Unfortunately, being involved in a truck accident can be overwhelming, and trucking companies may take advantage of the fact that many victims don’t know the best steps to take following one of these accidents.
What to Do After a Truck Driving Accident
After a truck driving accident, you may be unsure about what to do next. It’s hard to know the right steps to take or what your legal rights might be, particularly if you are receiving medical treatment for what can often be severe or disabling truck accident injuries. If you were seriously injured or you lost a loved one in the crash, the next step after seeking medical treatment is to engage an experienced personal injury attorney who can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit against the person or parties responsible for the crash. Seeking compensation after a crash with a commercial vehicle is a complicated process due to the specialized set of laws and regulations that apply to commercial truck drivers, the vehicles they drive, and the trucking companies that employ them. An attorney with extensive knowledge of these areas of the law can ensure that you have the best possible chance of securing the compensation you deserve and hold the responsible parties accountable.
Once you’ve selected a lawyer to represent you, be prepared to relay everything you can about the accident: exactly what happened, in what order, and why, as well as all the details about any injuries you sustained, related medical bills, and any damage to your car or other property. These elements will all play a role in determining who was at fault for the crash, filing a claim, and pursuing damages. Lost wages, a loss of ability to work in the future, and emotional pain and suffering may also be factors in your claim. While every personal injury case is different, these are typically considered after a serious crash involving a commercial truck occurs.
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, depending on the specifics of your situation, you may be able to sue the commercial truck driver and the trucking company he or she works for, and possibly even the manufacturer of one or more of the truck’s parts, if a part failed and contributed to the crash. Who can be held liable for damages depends on the cause, or causes, of the accident.
Common Causes of Crashes: What Trucking Accident Statistics Show
Trucking accident statistics have shown truck driver fatigue to be one of the leading truck accident causes. Truck drivers who do not follow regulations limiting the amount of time they are legally allowed to drive at a stretch can be held liable for damages to the victim if it is found that the driver’s fatigue played a role in the crash. Truck drivers found to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash can also be held liable for damages, since these substances alter both perception and reaction time, and large, heavy trucks require vastly more stopping time and distance than smaller vehicles.
Truck accident statistics from 2017, compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), showed there were over 4,100 fatalities that year in large truck crashes. Statistical data underscores the fact that the majority of fatalities resulting from commercial truck crashes are the occupants of the smaller vehicle. Large trucks can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger car, truck, or van. These massive vehicles also have much more clearance off the ground. For these reasons, the driver and passengers in the smaller vehicle are far more vulnerable to death or serious injury than the occupants of the commercial truck.
Data from the IIHS also showed that nearly 75 percent of fatalities in large-truck crashes involved tractor-trailers, as opposed to single-unit trucks. This suggests that there is added risk involved in sharing the road with tractor-trailers. Only 32 percent of deaths in large-truck accidents occurred on freeways or interstate highways, while 67 percent of all truck accident fatalities occurred on either minor roads or major roads that were not highways. Many people avoid highway driving in part because they’re scared to share the road with large trucks, but in truth, data suggests that it’s less dangerous to share the highway than it is to share a smaller road.
While laws have been put in place to attempt to decrease the amount of trucking accident injuries and fatalities, victims in these crashes and their families would argue that these tragedies still occur far too often.
What Does Truck Accident Law Require of Drivers And Companies?
Truck accident law requires that commercial truck drivers carry the proper license for the type of vehicle they’re operating and the purpose for which they’re driving it. If the driver involved in the crash was not properly licensed, this can become a factor in a lawsuit. Furthermore, if drivers have not had the proper breaks and rest periods between driving stints on the road, or if they were driving an overloaded truck that was not within the proper weight requirements, these circumstances can also affect your case against them or the company they work for.
These are just a few examples of ways that truck accident law can affect a legal case following a trucking accident. Since trucking laws are so extensive and complex and can vary by state, there are many other, similar examples. Other areas of trucking law, such as those regulating trucks that carry hazardous materials or trucking companies’ inspection and maintenance requirements, may also come into play in your particular case.
If the truck’s brakes or some other part failed and caused the accident, that would also be an important part of your case. In these situations, trucking accident victims can sue parts manufacturers for damages, along with the driver and the trucking company. Victims can even sue the truck’s cargo loaders if it is found that the truck either was too heavy or was carrying cargo that wasn’t properly distributed, if these conditions led to the crash.
When trucking accident victims file personal injury claims, their attorneys must be able to prove that someone exhibited negligence—meaning, they had a duty of care that they breached. Drivers of commercial trucks, for example, have the duty to maintain proper licensing; follow all regulatory laws pertaining to their industry, including laws limiting their time spent driving on the road; and drive carefully when operating their trucks. Trucking companies, for their part, have certain duties as well, such as to train their drivers adequately and to follow vehicle maintenance and inspection requirements. If either or both of these parties are negligent in fulfilling their duties, they may be found liable for damages in the event of a crash.
How To File a Lawsuit Against a Trucking Company
If you’ve been the victim of a crash involving a commercial truck, or a loved one was severely injured or killed in a commercial truck accident, you need to know the steps involved in seeking compensation from a trucking company.
The first and most important step is to consult with an attorney who can determine whether or not you have a strong case and should file a lawsuit. Once you have an experienced attorney to represent you and handle your case, you should expect that your lawyer will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine every contributing factor. This will enable the firm representing you to determine whom to hold liable for damages for the victim’s medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
The months and even years following a catastrophic truck accident can be an extremely difficult, vulnerable time for the victims. Hiring a qualified attorney with a history of success to represent you can make all the difference in the outcome of your case.
Are You or A Loved One A Truck Accident Victim? Slack Davis Sanger Can Help
The truck accident attorneys at Slack Davis Sanger possess deep knowledge of the complex laws governing commercial truck operation and maintenance, as well as success with lawsuits against commercial truck drivers, manufacturers, and companies found liable after a crash. When we take on a client who was injured in a trucking accident or who lost a loved one in a devastating crash involving a commercial truck, we use every resource at our disposal to investigate all circumstances surrounding the crash and to help determine what compensation our client deserves. Slack Davis Sanger clients can rest assured they are in good hands, as their attorneys listen compassionately to their needs and concerns and relentlessly pursue justice on their behalf.
The firm handles cases involving catastrophic personal injuries and deaths. Our work spans three decades of handling airplane and helicopter crashes, truck and car accidents, oilfield and construction accidents, and other devastating accidents. We try lawsuits throughout the country in both federal and state courts and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars for our clients. To date, we have handled or tried cases in 47 states, read more about our attorneys and firm.