The Top Five Legal Questions About Truck Accidents: When a commercial truck crashes and injures people, it’s often catastrophic. The truck operator might ignore responsibility and try to drive away, or their insurance might not cover all the costs—and that leaves the victims with medical bills, lost wages and maybe even permanent disabilities.
The Top Five Legal Questions About Truck Accidents
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), truck accidents are almost a pandemic in the U.S.: In 2016 alone, nearly 4,971 people died in them. If you or someone you love has been involved in a truck accident, you may be wondering if anyone is liable for your damages. After all, there are several parties who could be held responsible for what happened: The driver of the other car as well as their insurance company; third-party suppliers of parts; and even manufacturers of trucks if they were operating negligently. If you have any questions about liability after being involved in a truck accident — read on!
Who is Liable When a Commercial Truck Crashes?
To start with, the truck driver and the other driver are both normally held liable for any injuries they cause in an accident. If a semi-truck rear-ends your car, the driver of the truck is obviously at fault. If a truck jackknifes in a highway lane and sends cars slamming into each other, the truck driver is responsible. When it comes to deciding who’s liable for medical bills, lost wages and other damages, though, the picture gets a lot more complicated. Insurance companies for both the other driver and for the trucker may try to negotiate a settlement with you, but they may also deny that any fault lies with either party.
Can I sue the manufacturer of the truck?
If a truck with a faulty airbag causes an accident, you may be able to sue the manufacturer. This can happen when the truck’s design or production process is faulty: A faulty transmission, a wheel or axle that comes off while driving or a fuel tank that explodes in a crash could all be the result of poor design or manufacturing. If a manufacturer put the truck on the road with a known defect that caused your accident, you may have a legal claim against them for medical bills and related damages.
This is especially true if the company was aware of the defect and did not take adequate steps to warn drivers of the truck’s potential dangers. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued recalls for faulty airbags in Ford and GM vehicles that have shown to cause injuries and even fatal accidents but the companies failed to adequately warn trucking companies and drivers of the defect. If your truck had one of these faulty airbags and caused an accident, you may be able to sue the manufacturer and recover additional compensation.
What if more than one person is liable for my accident?
If your truck accident involved more than one negligent party, you may be able to hold a combination of parties liable and recover damages from each. For example, if you get hit by a truck whose brakes were faulty and failed, both the trucking company and the truck’s manufacturer may be at fault for your injuries.
Similarly, if your car was rear-ended by a semi-truck driver who was speeding and had been drinking, the trucker himself could be at fault and responsible for your medical bills. In this case, you may be able to sue more than one party for your damages by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
How do I know how much my injuries are worth?
The value of your injuries will be carefully assessed by your lawyer before you sue for damages. You’ll first need to go through the process of seeing a doctor for your injuries, recording how they impact your life, and getting a list of your medical expenses. If you’re likely to suffer long-term consequences from your accident, your lawyer will also need to get a report from a doctor who specializes in prognosticating future disabilities.
The Top Five Legal Questions About Truck Accidents : Your lawyer will then factor in other costs you may need to pay, such as lost wages or the cost of hiring a caregiver or housekeeper. Your lawyer will use this information to decide how much compensation you deserve and how much to ask for in court. That said, the amount of money you get in a settlement or verdict will likely be less than the value of your claim. This is because your lawyer will take a fee for their work out of the total awarded to you.
Can I recover my lost wages through a lawsuit?
Even if your injury is debilitating, you may be able to recover lost wages from a trucking company or other negligent parties. If you were disabled by an accident with a commercial truck, you have the right to recover any wages you lost as a result, even if the trucker was uninsured or fled the scene. For example, if you were hit by an 18-wheeler and lost time off work because of your injuries, you can file a workers’ compensation claim against the trucking company. In many states, you may also be able to file a claim against the truck’s insurance company as well.
Is There Any Way to Get Help with paying my medical bills and other costs immediately?
If you were hurt in a truck accident and have mounting medical bills, you may want to look into applying for a state fund that provides assistance to accident victims. Your state may be able to help you get funding to cover your medical costs and other expenses while you wait for the outcome of your lawsuit.
You may need to apply to several different programs, so it’s important to start as soon as you can after your accident. You may also be able to tap into a special fund for victims of trucking accidents called the Prompt Payment Fund. This fund was created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to help trucking companies make timely payments to the people they injure in accidents.
Final words: Takeaway
In the U.S., commercial trucks account for about 10% of roadway traffic yet cause about 25% of all fatal car accidents. When a truck crashes and causes injuries, it’s often catastrophic: The truck driver may try to drive off without accepting responsibility, and the other driver may try to flee, too. When you’ve been in a truck accident, it’s important to understand who is liable for your injuries. In most cases, the truck driver and the other driver are liable. If a truck has a faulty airbag, you may be able to sue the manufacturer. You may also be able to recover lost wages from a trucking company or other negligent parties if you were disabled by an accident with a commercial truck.