Motor vehicle collisions involving large, commercial trucks often result in significantly more damage than those involving passenger vehicles alone. This can be due to multiple factors, such as the sheer size and weight of commercial trucks, as well as an increased risk of fatigue among long-haul truck drivers. Fortunately, if you are involved in an(a.k.a. big rig, 18-wheeler, or tractor-trailer), several options are available to obtain compensation.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit after a collision with a commercial truck can help you obtain the compensation you deserve, but it can also be a complicated, lengthy process. A skilledwith extensive experience in trucking accidents can help to ensure that you receive full compensation in a timely manner. And filing a lawsuit might be your only option to recover damages; insurance carriers often require the insured to attempt to get the responsible party to pay before they will issue any funds. When the other party refuses, a lawsuit may be necessary.
When filing a lawsuit after an accident involving a large truck, one of the challenges is determining who to file it against. Was the truck driver negligent—was he/she texting while driving, or driving recklessly? Was the truck company negligent—did its failure to provide proper maintenance result in a mechanical issue that caused the accident? Was a parts manufacturer negligent—did faulty tires contribute to the accident? Was a third-party responsible—did a bar knowingly over-serve the driver, lending to his/her intoxicated driving? As you can see, determining fault can be a complex matter. And in many cases, multiple parties are at fault.
Even if the truck driver was obviously negligent (i.e. falling asleep behind the wheel), he/she may not have the financial ability to compensate you for repair bills and medical expenses. In most instances, however, the trucking company is at least partially at fault. Acan help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck.
Generally speaking, truck drivers are working for a company. As such, the company may be held vicariously liable for resulting collisions. For example, if the driver fell asleep behind the wheel, was it because he/she was working excessive hours at the company’s request? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes strict regulations on the amount of hours truck drivers are allowed to work. These are known as “hours of service” regulations. Drivers may not drive more than 14 consecutive hours, and they cannot resume driving until a minimum of 10 consecutive off-duty hours have passed. Further, they cannot drive more than 60 hours during a seven-day period, or 70 hours during an eight-day period. Violations can result in civil penalties and fines.
Even if the truck was well-maintained and inspected, and the trucking company adhered to hours of service regulations, the trucking company may be deemed liable for the driver’s negligence. Consider the following scenario: Harold is driving recklessly when he crashes into Maude. Had Harold’s employer, CBA Trucking, conducted a thorough background check prior to his hire, they would have seen multiple terminations due to reckless driving. For this reason, any resulting lawsuit may allege that CBA used negligent hiring practices and is, thus, partially liable for Maude’s injuries. Continue reading