There are times when victims could hold the truck driver or trucking company responsible for a truck accident. These crashes typically involve a more complicated process for proving liability for the accident, and doing so depends on the specific circumstances of the case. While some instances involve one at-fault party, others might hold several individuals or companies accountable for causing the accident.
What factors could play a role in whether a truck driver or trucking company might hold individual responsibility for the accident?
- The cause of the accident.
- The driver’s adherence to the law.
- Trucking company policies.
- Whether the driver works as an independent contractor for the company.
In many cases, the law relies on vicarious liability to hold the truck driver’s employer responsible for the accident. The Legal Information Institute (LII) defines vicarious liability as an employer or supervisor’s responsibility for their employees or subordinates’ actions. Therefore, employers must often compensate victims of truck accidents caused by their drivers.
Defendants in Truck Accident Cases
In some instances, you could hold the truck driver or trucking company responsible for your truck accident. However, one or more other defendants may also have contributed to your accident, and you might want help from a personal injury lawyer to establish their liability. In addition to the truck driver and their employer, at-fault parties in truck accidents may include:
- The owner of the freight carried in the truck.
- The manufacturer of the truck for defective equipment.
- A mechanic or automotive shop for faulty repairs.
- A safety inspector who missed violations.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), large trucks carry a significantly higher risk of involvement in a fatal accident involving other vehicles than passenger vehicles do. Because of the size and braking time of large trucks, truck accidents often include multiple vehicles. In some cases, you could hold drivers of other vehicles in the crash responsible for causing your injuries as well.
Determining Liability for Truck Accidents
You might find it difficult to prove liability in your accident, especially with all the considerations and potential at-fault parties involved. You can hold the truck driver or trucking company responsible for the truck accident that caused your injuries in many cases. However, insurance companies might attempt to prove otherwise to deprive you of compensation. A truck accident lawyer can help you determine who you can hold accountable for your losses.
State Law Determines Who Covers Damages
In addition to the complexities associated with truck accident liability, figuring out who holds the responsibility for your damages depends on your state of residence. Some states require drivers to carry no-fault insurance policies, which cover the driver’s property damage and medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident. In these cases, your insurance company might have to provide your compensation.
On the other hand, at-fault states require the driver’s insurance company to determine liability for the accident, and the at-fault party’s carrier must pay for the victims’ damages. However, regardless of accountability, insurance companies do not like to pay more than the absolute minimum. They might try to undervalue your injuries so they can keep your settlement amount low. An attorney can communicate with the insurance companies on your behalf to fight for just compensation.
If your damages surpass the maximum coverage that the insurance policy allows, you could pursue further compensation from the individual or company responsible for causing the accident.
Criteria for Establishing Liability in a Truck Accident Case
To prove liability in a trucking accident claim, you must first determine that another party meets the legal criteria for negligence. Negligence generally consists of four criteria, and the victim must prove that the driver satisfies all four to pursue compensation for their claim.
- Duty of care: The driver had a duty to exercise a reasonable amount of care to ensure the victim’s safety.
- Breach of duty: Through an act of omission or a willful act, the driver breached their duty of care, putting the victim in danger.
- Causation: The driver’s breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries.
- Damages: The victim’s injuries resulted in significant physical, emotional, or mental damages.
You Have a Limited Amount of Time to File Your Claim
Each state has a statute of limitations, which sets the period during which you may file a claim for your truck accident. They vary from one to 10 years, depending on the state and whether you plan to file a personal injury claim, a property damage claim, or both.
If you lost a loved one in a truck accident, you could file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for this type of claim also varies by state and extends from one to five years from the date of your loved one’s passing.
Contact an Attorney for Help Proving Liability in Your Case
If you or a family member suffered severe or fatal injuries due to a truck accident, you might struggle to navigate the legal process on your own, especially during your difficult time. The team at Ben Crump Law, PLLC, can manage your case on your behalf, investigate the circumstances of your accident, determine liability, and pursue the financial recovery you deserve for your losses. Call us today at (800) 235-0444 to speak with our legal team about your free case evaluation.