Truck Accident FAQ

Potentially lethal giants weighing more than 80,000 pounds and up to 75 feet in length present unique dangers to the cars, vans and SUVs that share the road with them. Statistics show that trucks are involved in 1 out of every 9 road traffic accidents, and in 94% of these accidents the occupants of the vehicle with which the truck collided are either injured or killed.

There are many different reasons for accidents involving large trucks, and commercial vehicles often present unique issues including unrealistic delivery schedules, long hours, driver fatigue, jackknifing, dangerous cargo, inspection failures and others. Below are some frequently asked questions:

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am injured or a family member is killed by a semi tractor-trailer, is my case different as opposed to any other automobile driver?

Yes, because trucks are required to carry higher amounts of insurance coverage, and the drivers must also meet higher safety standards than other vehicle drivers. Trucks travel in interstate commerce and are therefore subject to many federal regulations that do not apply to other vehicles. Trucking companies also have responsibility to perform background checks prior to hiring drivers and must periodically evaluate existing employees. Drivers are subject to limits on the number of hours they can drive in a given day. Drivers are also subject to testing for drugs and alcohol, both randomly and in the event of an accident. Violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation Act can provide the basis for establishing fault on the part of the trucking company and its driver.

Can I automatically recover against the truck driver in a traffic accident where a big-rig “jackknifed?”

Not necessarily. A truck jackknifing is not in itself proof of operator negligence because many accident situations present difficulties in which there is no practical way to avoid jackknifing without risking some other catastrophe. An example where a truck that has jackknifed held to be non-negligent is where the jackknifing was due to unforeseeable slipperiness of the road or to an abrupt turn undertaken to avoid a motorist or stalled truck.

Who can be sued in a truck accident case?

The driver, owner of the tractor, owner of the trailer, the company identified on the trailer even if other than the owner and driver, and in some circumstances the loading facility that placed the contents in the trailer and possibly the owner of the contents of the trailer can all be sued.

Who can sue in a truck accident injury or death case?

The injured victim and in some cases their spouse can sue. In a wrongful death action the trustee for the family on behalf of all family members can bring a claim or suit against the truck driver and trucking company.

Can I sue the truck driver’s trucking company for my injuries from the accident?

It depends on whether an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and the trucking company. If such a relationship is shown, the company can be held legally liable for the driver’s negligence under a legal theory known as “respondeat superior.” Establishing the liability of a company can become problematic when a truck driver is an independent contractor of the company. In such a situation, the key issue becomes the amount of supervising exercised by the company.

Can the shipper as well as the truck driver be sued for respiratory problems suffered from a car colliding with a truck carrying hazardous liquid chemicals?

The shipper of hazardous materials can be held legally responsible in limited circumstances if injuries resulted from the type of cargo on the truck, especially if the shipper failed to advise the driver or the trucking company of the hazardous nature of material contained in the freight.

Can I receive money for time I missed at work from an injury in a crash where a truck driver was at fault?

Your recovery in a personal injury action can include payment for income lost through missed work and compensation for any loss of earning capacity resulting from the accident.

In a truck accident injury or death case, what damages can I recover or the survivors of a loved one recover?

In a personal injury case the injured victim can recover for pain, disability, emotional distress, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity and any uncompensated medical bills. In a death case the family would be allowed to recover damages by way of their loss of care, comfort, guidance and support provided to the family members by the deceased. In addition, they would be allowed to recover any medical bills and established loss of earnings.

Can I still win the lawsuit if I may have been partially at fault for the accident?

It depends on the degree of your fault. Under the legal doctrine known as “comparative negligence,” the amount of another party’s liability for the accident is determined by comparing his or her carelessness with your own. That party’s portion of liability determines the percentage of the resulting damages they must pay. In most states, you can’t recover anything if your own carelessness was 50% or more responsible for the accident.

Why should I hire an attorney in a truck accident case?

Truck accidents can be the most complicated and aggressively defended cases because of the parties involved. Having legal representation is extremely important to ensure the proper parties are involved and sufficient negligence is established. It is also important to hire an attorney as soon as possible so that evidence is not lost or destroyed.

If you have a question that was not covered in the above Frequently Asked Questions or if your question was not fully answered, call or contact us today for additional information.

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