Victims rarely walk away from collisions with 18-wheelers. If you were involved in an accident with a large truck, you probably left the scene in an ambulance, and your injuries could range from broken bones to traumatic brain injuries and even amputated limbs.
Just like any victim of a negligent driver, you deserve just compensation for your injuries. And since your injuries were likely devastating, it's crucial for you to get the maximum amount of compensation possible. Unfortunately, truck accidents can be harder to prosecute than typical personal injury suits because determining who's responsible for the accident can be difficult at best.
Below, we'll talk about who could be at fault in your accident. Once you understand your potential options, your lawyer can talk to you about your case and help determine which party needs to pay for your suit.
1. The Driver
As in a typical personal injury suit, the driver of the vehicle that struck you could be at fault for your accident. For instance, if the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, he or she is certainly responsible for your injuries and should pay.
Similarly, drivers are required by law to rest for a certain amount of time during and after a haul. If drivers violate regulations about resting, they can be held responsible for their actions.
Additionally, truckers who break driving laws should compensate you for your injuries. If the driver ran a red light and struck you or cut you off on the freeway, you can prosecute the driver for negligence.
2. The Company
Most truck drivers don't work alone. Instead, they're usually employed by a fleet owner. In general, the owner is responsible for:
Training their employees
Ensuring their trucks are properly maintained and repaired
Hiring employees with the right credentials and licenses
If the trucking company required drivers to haul loads too heavy for their trucks, failed to hire drivers with the proper licensing or forced drivers to violate rules about resting for a full eight hours, the trucking company could be responsible for the accident even if the driver is the one who fell asleep at the wheel or failed to adhere to the rules of the road.
Further, even if the driver acted negligently, the trucking company might be legally responsible for the driver's actions based on a rule called respondent superior. Your lawyer can look into the truck company's contracts and determine which party takes ultimate liability for the driver's actions. In some cases, you can sue both the driver and the trucking company.
Again, if the truck driver who struck your car was an independent contractor or the owner of their own small business, the driver is usually responsible for their own actions rather than another company. Hopefully, though, the truck driver was contracted - you're unlikely to get enough money to cover your damages if you're required to sue a private individual.
3. The Manufacturer
In some cases, the company responsible for creating and maintaining the truck could be partially responsible for the damages you suffered. If the company improperly manufactured the vehicle and sent it out into the field even though they knew the truck and its parts weren't regulation standard, they'll be held responsible for damage and injuries caused by the defective vehicle.
Get a Lawyer's Help
Determining fault in a trucking accident is incredibly complicated, and as someone who was recently injured, you don't have the time, energy or experience to figure out the fault by yourself. Let your lawyer take care of the most complicated parts of personal injury law so you can focus on recovery.
If you've recently been injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler, it's time to get in touch with experienced help. The Law Office of Jason M. Welborn can represent you in an 18-wheeler case. Fill out the form on our website to schedule an appointment and find out if we can help.