Whether or not you can pursue financial awards from an individual after a truck accident depends on the type of insurance coverage you and the at-fault driver carry and the extent of your injuries. In some cases, you can file claims against someone personally for damages not covered by insurance. Other times, insurance restrictions prevent you from filing lawsuits against the person responsible for causing the accident.
A lawyer can assess your damages, seek a fair settlement from the insurance company, and help you determine if you qualify for financial recovery beyond that which the insurance covers.
Insurance Requirements Vary by State
Each state has its own laws regarding vehicle insurance requirements and minimal coverage amounts. Because of their size and commercial use, semi-trucks have different insurance requirements than passenger vehicles. Truck drivers often carry one type of insurance for their truck and another for themselves, while non-commercial drivers carry no-fault or at-fault insurance as determined by their state. Typically, the type of insurance you carry determines who will pay your damages and how much you will receive.
Some states require no-fault insurance policies, which cover injuries to the driver and passenger as well as property damages regardless of who caused the accident. While no-fault insurance usually restricts the carrier from suing the other driver for damages if they cause the collision, some states make exceptions for truck accidents. Additionally, if you exceed the maximum amount allowed by your insurance policy, you may qualify for compensation from the at-fault driver.
Other states require drivers to carry liability insurance, which means that whoever causes the accident must pay for all damages. Residents of at-fault states have more freedom to pursue litigation to recover damages for their losses. Most of the time, the parties involved determine the at-fault driver and negotiate with that driver’s insurance company to achieve a settlement. However, they can sue someone personally after a truck accident if they do not receive adequate compensation from insurance.
Establishing Liability for a Truck Accident
In order to sue someone after a truck accident, pursue an insurance settlement in an at-fault state, or seek damages beyond what your no-fault insurance covers, you must first prove liability for the accident. In most cases, one of the drivers maintains primary responsibility for the collision. However, because several factors come into play with the involvement of large trucks, proving that the truck driver caused your accident may present a challenge.
In some at-fault states, the driver who holds the most responsibility for the accident must pay 100% of the damages. In others, both parties may carry a certain degree of fault, which can affect their compensation. For example, if insurance deems a driver 80% responsible for the accident, the other driver may receive reduced damages for their role in the collision. Insurance companies prefer to assign blame to the other driver to avoid costly payouts, but a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf to seek fair compensation from the other driver.
A Vehicle Manufacturer
In rare instances, defective vehicle parts can cause accidents that lead to serious or fatal injuries. An article by National Public Radio (NPR) reports that human error plays a role in more than 90% of all accidents, but vehicles do account for the sole cause of accidents 2% of the time. In these cases, victims may file a products liability lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer for the negligence that caused their injuries.
A Government Agency
State and local governments have a responsibility to keep our roads safe for all who use them. If a defective roadway caused your accident, you may have a case against the government agency who failed to maintain it. Because of sovereign immunity, pursuing a case against the government involves a complex process. While the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) does allow civilians to sue the government for certain reasons, filing a claim under FTCA may present a challenge to those who attempt to do it on their own. A truck accident lawyer can help you determine if your case qualifies for an FTCA claim.
Financial Awards in a Truck Accident Case
If you sue someone personally in a truck accident case, you may seek one or more of several types of awards depending on the circumstances of your case, the extent of your injuries, and the amount covered by insurance. Compensation may include payment for:
- Emergency medical care, rehabilitation, and other related healthcare costs
- Lost wages for the time you spent out of work and loss of future wages if your injuries prevent you from returning to work for an extended period of time
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering, such as mental anguish and permanent disfigurement
- Funeral and burial expenses if you lost a loved one in the accident
A Lawyer Can Help You Build Your Case
If you or a loved one suffered serious or fatal injuries in a truck accident, insurance may not cover all of your damages. You deserve adequate compensation for your financial, physical, and emotional losses, and an attorney can help you prove liability in your case and pursue fair compensation. Contact Ben Crump Law, PLLC today at (800) 235-0444 to speak with our legal team about your free case evaluation.