Can I Sue Someone Personally After a Truck Accident?
State laws give car accident victims the right to sue someone personally if they can show that the individual is liable for their car accident injuries. In a truck accident case, that individual is often a truck driver. So you have the legal right to sue the truck driver when he or she is responsible for your injuries. In fact, most of the time we choose to do so on behalf of our clients. However, suing the truck driver is just the beginning because they often do not have the assets to provide fair compensation.
Most of the time, the truck driver is hauling his load on behalf of a trucking company. The law defines these companies as federal motor carriers. A good truck accident lawyer can hold the trucking company responsible for the actions of the truck driver. This is important because the trucking company often has more assets and more insurance to cover you for your injuries.
Understanding Truck Accident Liability
Unfortunately, trucking companies often do everything they can to avoid being held accountable. In order to escape liability, most trucking companies set up a system that makes the truck driver an independent owner-operator. Under this system, the trucking companies claim they are not responsible for the actions of the truck driver because all they are doing is arranging for the independent truck driver to haul a load. You need a law firm on your side that knows how to beat this ridiculous claim.
The truth is that the trucking company should be responsible for the actions of the truck driver under a legal doctrine called vicarious liability and respondeat superior. Under this doctrine, the company is benefiting financially from the actions of the truck driver so they should be responsible financially for the wrongdoing of the truck driver. The key to this doctrine is being able to prove the truck driver was acting within the scope of his employment at the time of the crash.
The truck driver does not have to be an employee of the company for him to be within the scope of his employment. Instead, he only has to be on duty driving a load. The fact that the truck driver is an independent owner-operator should not make a difference.
In a truck accident claim, almost any time a truck driver is behind the wheel of their truck, their actions benefit the employer, and the employer, generally a trucking company, is liable.
Building a Claim for Compensation After a Truck Accident
When state laws recognize the concept of respondeat superior, this allows you to pursue your claim against the trucking company. However, building a truck accident claim requires an additional step not included in the navigation of most car accident claims. You will need to show:
- You qualify to take fault-based action based on your injuries and treatment required.
- The truck driver’s negligence caused your accident.
- The truck driver was acting within the scope of his employment with the trucking company and was working at the time of the accident, so the trucking company is liable.
- You suffered damages of a specific value.
Each of these steps requires specific evidence, and this could include calling in experts and evaluating a wide range of proof, some of which are held by the trucking company. You will not be able to pursue a liability insurance payout from the trucking company or a lawsuit until you have completed each step.
This process is complex, and we recommend the help of an attorney to build your claim, even if you do not need to sue someone to recover damages. When you work with us, you can feel confident that we know how to prove negligence and liability and calculate a fair value for your claim.
We will pursue an insurance payout based on the claim we build and will file a personal injury lawsuit based on your injuries if it becomes necessary.
Filing a Lawsuit Based on Your Truck Accident
If you suffered serious injuries in a tractor-trailer truck accident, you may have the right to hold the liable party accountable for your injuries and expenses. We believe holding those responsible for truck accidents is important and may be able to seek compensation on your behalf.
Financial recovery may be possible through:
- Filing an insurance claim with the insurer for the liable party, usually the trucking company
- Filing a civil suit in the jurisdiction where the accident occurred and naming the trucking company as the defendant
We need to get started on your truck accident claim as soon as possible, especially since much of the evidence usually ends up with the defendant, including driver’s rest logs, computer data, and more. In addition, there are deadlines on personal injury lawsuits set by each state’s statute of limitations.
Speak with Us About Your Accident Claim
If you suffered injuries in a truck accident, a Distasio Law Firm lawyer may be able to help you prove the trucking company is responsible and seek compensation for your medical care, lost wages, property damages, pain and suffering, and more.