Can Truckers Sue Trucking Companies After an Accident?
There are a number of scenarios under which a truck driver can sue the trucking company for civil damage claims following an accident.
Dangers on the Road and Risks to Truckers
Long haul trucks are huge vehicles capable of dishing out enormous damage on the road when involved in a collision. But other smaller vehicles and their occupants aren’t the only ones at risk. Truck drivers can be killed or seriously injured from a range of accidents, whether it’s from the truck flipping over or getting involved in a multi-vehicle pileup.
Injuries that truck drivers can sustain in accidents include:
- Broken ribs and other fractured bones
- Bad bruising
- Internal bleeding
- Head and neck injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injury
- Spinal damage, which can result in paralysis
It is vital that truck drivers always wear their seat belts, even if it can be tempting to remove it after many hours on the road. Injuries that result from a trucker not being belted in are always far worse than when they are safely secured inside the cab.
Truck Accident Statistics and Causes
According to national traffic safety data, there are generally about half a million big truck accidents a year, with one in 100 of these resulting in a fatality. Although this represents roughly 5,000 deaths annually, death remains a rare occurrence when compared with the greater context of most truck accidents.
Instead, the larger headache usually involves a combination of personal injuries and damage to vehicles. In the latter category, cars that get hit by trucks often end up totaled, which means their damage cost is the entire value of the vehicle up to the moment of the crash.
Common causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue – this is especially true for long haul truckers driving long into the night
- Intoxication / DUI – this includes alcohol and drugs, including amphetamines that some drivers may use to try and stay awake for longer
- Poor visibility
- Bad road conditions
- Driver distraction
- Reckless driving
- Equipment failure – sometimes this can be a freak accident that couldn’t have been foreseen. However, as you will read below, preventable equipment failures that cause accidents open up the trucking company to potential liability
Determining Fault and Establishing Liability
Generally, accidents involving a big truck will be settled by the truck owner’s insurance company, not the truck driver’s personal insurance. This is because the truck driver is usually an employee of a trucking company rather than a freelance driver who also owns the truck.
Establishing fault and liability largely depends on whether the accident occurred in a fault or no-fault state. In the latter example, one’s own insurance company handles property damages and medical bills. In the former, drivers deal with the other driver’s insurance to claim compensation.
Where truckers and trucking companies enter the fray here is in fault states in which the trucker is seeking compensation above that which is offered by the company’s insurance.
However, there is a further possibility, which is when the accident could have been prevented had it not been for negligence on the part of the trucking company. A common example of this is when the brakes should have been replaced months earlier but the company failed to do so. Or when a part securing the truckload ought to have been replaced or repaired but was not.
These examples would point to liability on the part of the trucking company, and the driver, as well as other drivers involved, could sue.
Getting Legal Representation
Lawsuits are a tricky business, particularly when you are aiming to sue a company that likely has its own legal counsel who may have dealt with similar cases in the past.
It is critical to find highly qualified truck accident lawyers to represent you if you plan on pursuing a legal case against a trucking company. Filing a suit without an attorney is a highly complex procedure that rarely results in success. A good lawyer will stay ahead of the game by filing the right motions on time, walk you through how to craft a winning case, and see your push for compensation through to the end.