Various individuals, businesses, organizations, or institutions could be liable for a truck accident. That’s because truck accidents can happen under many circumstances. The fault lies with anyone whose actions or omissions caused a truck crash.
If you or a loved one sustained injuries in a truck crash, you may have the right to receive compensation for your losses. Take a look at the information below and contact an experienced Columbia truck accident injury lawyer to discuss your options.
Overview of Liability in Truck Accidents
In a truck accident case, liability refers to someone’s legal responsibility for the damages crash victims experience. Determining liability involves identifying the person, company, or entity whose negligence or intentional misconduct played a role in causing the accident.
Proving liability involves demonstrating that someone failed to act in a reasonably prudent way to keep others safe, leading to an accident that harmed victims.
Being liable for a truck accident has significant legal implications. A liable party typically has a legal obligation to pay for the damages resulting from the accident. They may have to compensate victims for medical expenses, lost income, property damage, physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life.
A court may also order them to pay punitive damages if their misconduct was especially extreme or malicious. If their actions led to a truck crash victim’s death, they may have to pay wrongful death damages to the victim’s surviving spouse or family members to cover the loss of financial support, companionship, guidance, or consortium.
Depending on the circumstances leading to a truck accident, a liable party may face criminal charges, which could mean fines or imprisonment. Regardless of whether a court convicts a liable party of a crime, they will typically owe compensation to injured crash victims. You can sue for damages after a truck accident even if the state decides not to prosecute the at-fault party.
Parties Potentially Liable in Truck Accidents
No individual, business, organization, or institution will always have liability for a truck accident. Every crash is different. Experienced truck accident lawyers scrutinize the evidence in each case they handle to identify who was responsible for the harm their client suffered. Attorneys often find the following parties responsible for providing compensation to injured truck crash victims:
Truck drivers can be liable for truck accidents if their negligence or deliberate misconduct behind the wheel led to the incident. Negligent actions can include operating a big rig while intoxicated, disregarding traffic rules, driving recklessly, or driving while dangerously fatigued.
Drivers have a legal duty to comply with numerous safety regulations the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets out. Their dangerous actions when operating a truck often violate these rules, further cementing their liability for an accident.
A trucking company that employs a driver or owns a truck may also be liable for an accident. Trucking businesses have a responsibility to ensure the qualification and training of their drivers and follow regulations. They must also maintain and repair their fleet of vehicles and follow FMCSA regulations.
Trucking companies can be liable for a truck accident if they fail to fulfill those duties or violate federal truck safety rules. They may also face liability for the dangerous misconduct of a truck driver they employ under a legal doctrine that holds employers liable for their employees’ wrongdoing.
Truck or Parts Manufacturers
Truck and parts manufacturers may be liable for a truck accident if their products contain dangerous defects that lead to a crash. A truck manufacturer responsible for putting defective braking systems on the market can owe damages to victims if the truck accident happened because the faulty brakes prevented the truck from stopping in time to avoid a collision.
A manufacturer of defective trucks or truck parts will usually owe damages if they did not act negligently when designing, making, or marketing their products. Under a legal rule called strict liability, they’re responsible for crash victims’ losses, regardless of the reasonableness of their actions.
Other parties may bear some (or all) responsibility for a truck accident. These can include drivers of other vehicles who failed to share the road safely with a truck, government agencies responsible for creating conditions that are unsuitable for truck travel, or a business that failed to load and secure a truck’s cargo properly.
Anyone whose wrongful actions or omissions substantially contributed to the cause of a truck accident could be liable.
How Truck Accident Lawyers Hold Liable Parties Accountable for Victims’ Damages
Determining liability for a truck accident isn’t necessarily straightforward. The initial conclusions that law enforcement or insurance investigators make can be incorrect or incomplete.
That’s why experienced lawyers who represent truck accident victims often conduct separate investigations and discover facts that paint a more complete picture of who is liable.
After conducting that analysis and identifying all parties who should pay damages to an injured truck crash victim, an experienced truck accident attorney may utilize various strategies to hold those liable parties accountable for the harm they caused.
Your lawyer aims to secure the maximum compensation possible for the victim’s damages, usually by doing one or more of the following:
Send an Informal Demand for Compensation
An attorney may initiate the process to recoup damages by sending an informal demand for compensation to the at-fault party or their lawyers.
A typical demand letter outlines the facts of the accident, the basis for holding the party liable for causing it, the damages the victim sustained, and the amount of compensation they expect. This demand sometimes leads to immediate settlement negotiations, preventing more formal proceedings.
Submit a Third-party Insurance Claim
Should informal negotiations fail or prove insufficient, a lawyer for a truck accident may file a third-party insurance claim under the at-fault party’s liability insurance policy. This claim outlines the basis for liability and the damages the victim suffered. It also explains why the insurance company should pay for the harm its policyholder’s wrongdoing caused.
Third-party insurance claims may also trigger settlement negotiations. If successful, the insurance carrier may pay the claim, resolving the victim’s damages without the need for litigation.
File a Lawsuit for Damages
Informal demands and insurance claims are sometimes enough to convince the liable party to pay damages to a truck accident victim. If the liable party or their insurers deny responsibility or offer an unreasonably low settlement, the victim’s attorney may conclude that filing a lawsuit against the liable party for damages is the best course of action.
A formal legal action can trigger settlement talks. If a settlement doesn’t materialize, a lawsuit will typically go through a court judgment or courtroom trial.
Frequently Asked Questions About Truck Accident Liability
Truck accident victims often have multiple questions about how liability for their losses works. Here are the answers to some common inquiries on that topic. For answers to more specific questions about your truck accident case, contact a skilled lawyer today.
What Evidence Does a Lawyer Look At To Determine Who Was Liable for a Truck Accident?
Determining who is liable for a truck accident can involve a thorough review of numerous items of evidence. A lawyer may collect and examine images of the accident scene, police reports, medical records, witness statements, dashcam or traffic camera footage, vehicle maintenance records, a trucking company’s safety history, a trucker’s driving record, and data from a truck’s on-board electronic logging device. These items can provide critical clues about how an accident happened and who bears the blame.
A lawyer might also engage experts to help with their analysis. An accident reconstruction specialist, mechanical engineer, or medical professional can often supply valuable insight into who was responsible for a truck crash. A skilled lawyer may scrutinize the driver’s logbooks, vehicle maintenance records, and the trucking company’s hiring practices and safety protocols.
What Happens to My Claim if a Business Liable for My Truck Accident Files for Bankruptcy?
If a liable party files for bankruptcy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t obtain compensation for your injuries. That party’s insurance company will likely still need to cover your damages up to the policy limits, even if the bankruptcy prevents you (at least temporarily) from seeking compensation directly from the liable party themselves.
Bankruptcy can add a layer of complexity to your injury claim and may stretch its timeline, though. Your right to compensation may depend on you taking action to preserve your claim in the bankruptcy process. The most dependable way to protect your rights is to hire an experienced truck accident attorney right away.
Should I Accept a Settlement Offer I Received From a Liable Party’s Insurance Company?
Don’t accept any settlement offer before speaking with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Liability insurance companies often try to settle claims quickly and for less than what victims are eligible to receive. Saying yes to what seems like easy money could prevent you from obtaining the full amount you need to pay your current bills and meet your future needs.
An experienced truck accident attorney can review any offer you receive and determine whether it’s fair. A lawyer can also handle all negotiations with insurance companies on your behalf to prevent you from making costly mistakes and ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible.
Can I Claim Damages From More Than One Liable Party in a Truck Accident Case?
Yes. You can claim damages from any party that’s partially or fully liable for a truck accident that harmed you or your loved one, and you can pursue each liable party simultaneously. The more liable parties a lawyer can identify in your case, the better your chances are of receiving full compensation.
A case involving multiple defendants can become quite complicated, though. Settling with one liable party could deter your rights against another one. Your safest course of action after a truck accident is to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Today
One or more parties could be liable for the truck accident that injured you or your loved one. Identifying a liable individual, business, or entity and holding them accountable for your losses often requires an experienced lawyer’s careful investigation, detailed analysis, and skilled advocacy. Don’t delay getting the legal representation you need after a truck accident upends your life. Contact an experienced truck accident lawyer today for a free case evaluation.