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How Do Commercial Truck Accident Lawsuits Work?

Are commercial truck accidents different from crashes between cars?


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Commercial Truck

 

Commercial trucks seem to be all around us and they include delivery trucks, tanker trucks, and eighteen-wheeler trucks which can weigh up to 80,000 pounds or more when loaded. They are vital to our economy because they transport the goods that the community needs. When they are involved in an accident, they are more likely than accidents between two cars to cause severe injuries or fatalities.

When it comes to the way they drive, operators of commercial trucks must follow much stricter rules and regulations while on the road than drivers of cars. Still, it is important to determine who is at fault and apportioning a percentage of fault to each party involved in the accident.

Are commercial truck accidents different from crashes between cars?

They are. Mostly because when two or more cars collide, whoever was driving might be held responsible. As opposed to that, when there is a commercial truck involved, the driver’s employer might be held responsible. They may be sued for negligence for reasons such as:

  • Having hired a driver that did not have a commercial driver’s license
  • Not training or supervising the drivers appropriately
  • Failing to properly service and maintain the truck
  • Encouraging the driver to violate rules such as exceeding hours of service

And if it is discovered that the accident happened because the truck had been badly repaired, the mechanic who worked on it may also be found liable for the crash.

It is important to note that, for a truck company to be held responsible for the crash, an employment relationship must exist. This means that if the driver is an independent contractor it might be difficult to establish liability on the employer’s behalf.

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Other parties that may result liable for the accident could be the shipping companies that load the trucks. Cargo that is improperly loaded may be the reason for the accident. Also, if the shipping company does not inform the driver that there are hazardous materials on board, they may be held liable as well.

How does the legal process start in these cases?

A lawsuit will not be filed until legal representation is involved. Once there is a truck accident involved, they will start by conducting an in-depth investigation into what happened. It may even be necessary to call in experts such as reconstruction specialists to determine at the scene the sequence of events that lead to the crash. They will take pictures and measurements to shed light on what took place. It may also be necessary to interview possible witnesses to the accident. The court may be requested to issue an order to have evidence preserved such as recordings of the trip inside the truck.

All these steps may pinpoint what other parties might be held liable for the accident such as the manufacturer of the truck or of its parts, the company in charge of its maintenance, local entities in charge of road maintenance, and other that would be named as defendants.

Once the lawsuit is filed, you may find that the parties involved will offer you a settlement amount instead of going to court, since this is what tends to happen with the vast majority of truck accident claims.

What if it has been determined that the fault is shared?

If both the truck driver and the driver of the car are found to be at fault, they will share a percentage of the fault. As a plaintiff, you would have your gross award reduced by the percentage of fault you carry. This may make a big difference in the final amount you receive.

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Have you been involved in a truck accident and are thinking of filing a lawsuit?

As explained above, these accidents can be quite complex and require the right team of experts to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced truck accident attorney to present your case and explore options available to you. In the meantime, if you have doubts as to how to proceed with your legal claim, you can learn more here. And remember, don’t wait to take action since the statute of limitations will put a limit on how long you have to file.

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