Have you ever been on the highway and dreaded seeing a big rig up ahead of you? If you grip a little tighter on the wheel when you’re passing a big truck, you’re not alone. Big rigs are intimidating, and a run-in with one won’t just leave you with a small bruise.
If you do find yourself in an accident with a big rig, you’re going to have to deal with more than just injuries. Filing a claim when a big rig is involved can be more of a headache and a hassle than filing a claim for a typical car accident.
The Stats on Truck Accidents
It’s reasonable to be scared of big trucks on the road. Simply put, if you are involved in a truck accident and you are in a smaller car, you have a higher risk of injury or death.
According to studies done on truck accidents in 2014, 73% of fatalities of truck accidents are occupants of other vehicles. Accidents involving large trucks only make up 8.3% of all vehicles that are involved in fatal crashes… but even though they are relatively uncommon, they can do a lot of damage.
Filing a Lawsuit after a Truck Accident: Your Options
Since these accidents may involve more cars and more severe injuries, you are less likely to have all of your damages covered by your insurance. You may need to file a lawsuit. The process is similar to a lawsuit you would file in a car accident, but there are differences that will make a big deal in your case.
The biggest difference between truck and car accidents is the responsible parties. In car accidents, fault will most likely be placed on drivers and the lawsuit will be settled between each driver or injured passenger’s insurance companies and attorneys.
Truck accidents are a little more complicated.
Truck drivers are, for the most part, employees of commercial trucking companies. Employers are liable for the actions of their employees, so it might be a good idea to file a claim against the trucking company who owned the truck involved in your accident.
After all, since the truck was on the road during the accident, it will be easier for you and your lawyer to prove that the driver was on the job. Also, suing the trucking company rather than the driver (although you have the option to file a lawsuit against both parties) may help you win a bigger settlement. If the driver was improperly trained, more fault should be placed on the trucking company.
If a truck driver is an independent contractor, you will most likely file a claim solely against that driver. Depending on the driver’s contract, it may be possible to file a claim with the trucking company – your lawyer will be able to give you more information after they read the driver’s contract and talk to the company.
In both cases, you could also possibly sue the manufacturer or the owner of the truck. Road accidents are not always due to the negligence of the driver. Faulty parts or mechanical issues may have caused the accident, which can place responsibility on the manufacturer. If the weight of the goods in the truck was a factor in the accident, however, you may still want to focus your attention to the trucking company, or the party in charge of sending the truck on its route.
Consider the goods in the truck as well. If, by any chance, the goods in the truck were involved in your accident and contributed to or caused any damage, you might want file a lawsuit with the company that manufactured or intended to ship the goods in the truck. Improper loading can cause truck accidents as well, so find out who was responsible for loading the goods.
After any type of traffic accident, you should run over a checklist of information to get from other drivers or passengers who were involved: insurance information, injuries, names and contact information of witnesses, etc.
If you are involved in a truck accident, all of this information is important. However, there is additional information to gather so you can file the proper lawsuits for damages.
Get a copy of the truck’s license number, but also the company that the driver works for. Find out the responsibilities and duties of the trucking company: do they load goods into the truck? Was the driver a full-time employee or an independent contractor? If you can, get information on the cargo that is being transported and route of the truck.
Accidents involving trucks can be very severe, but filing a lawsuit in a truck accident can take more time than most lawsuits and can get pretty complicated. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a big rig, contact a personal injury lawyer today.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his 15-year career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for The Injury Law Firm of South Florida, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.