Can I Sue the Trucking Company After an Accident?

Can I Sue the Trucking Company After an Accident?

A large semi truck is stopped along a rural highway next to scenic cliffs.

All motor vehicle collisions are stressful. There are many different factors involved in every crash. Colliding with a commercial motor vehicle is often horrific because the severity of the wreck has the strong potential to cause life-altering injuries or even death. Surviving this nightmare can land you in another problematic state of affairs because of all the complexities of the industry. There may be multiple options when it comes to pursuing financial compensation for lost wages, medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. A personal injury lawyer will evaluate who to hold liable for the negligent actions that led to the accident.

Truck drivers can work as employees of a trucking company or operate as independent contractors. The employer is usually considered legally accountable for their employees. When a company driver is responsible for causing the accident, a claim for damages can be brought against the company if the accident occurred within the scope of the driver’s job. Trucking companies have aggressive insurance companies with their own teams of lawyers. These highly trained attorneys boldly fight to avoid paying out large settlements. A truck accident lawyer working on your behalf levels the playing field with these large companies. It is essential to have legal representation on your side when suing a trucking company for damages after an accident.

Are Truck Drivers Responsible For Damages?

The drivers themselves may be held responsible for damages if they are found to be at fault for the accident. Trucking companies have insurance to cover their drivers, but they might try to place blame solely on the driver if they were going against company policy. Many accident victims can seek compensation from both the company and the driver.

The truck driver is at fault for the accident if they:

  • Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Text or use a handheld phone while driving
  • Overload their trailer with freight
  • Drive with unbalanced cargo or an uneven distribution of weight
  • Speed
  • Drive too closely to the car ahead of them
  • Fail to perform their pre-trip inspection
  • Disregard posted warnings for hills, curves, or intersections
  • Drive recklessly during adverse weather conditions
  • Fail to adhere to sleep requirements

Proving any of these actions will mean the driver is guilty of negligence, and they will be responsible for paying reparations to the victim or their family.

How Can the Trucking Company Be At Fault?

Employers are legally responsible for the actions of their employees under the legal theory known as respondeat superior, Latin for “let the superior answer,” as defined by Britannica. In other words, the employer is vicariously liable. The trucking company can also be held accountable for the accident if they are found negligent in any of the following:

  • Failure to conduct background checks
  • Failure to require drug testing
  • Do not enforce safety policies
  • Inadequate training
  • Poor maintenance of company trucks

A claim for damages is usually filed with the trucking company’s insurance company, but sometimes a lawsuit is necessary. Your personal injury lawyer will work with you to make this decision.

What Is an Owner-Operator?

About one out of every ten truck drivers is an owner-operator. These commercial driver’s license holders work independently as small business owners and own or lease the truck and trailer they use for hauling freight. They typically have more experience and fewer accidents than company drivers. In fact, according to the Owner-Operators Independent Drivers Association, independent owner-operators have less than one-third of the rate of reported accidents compared to employee drivers. Unfortunately, collisions with owner-operators inevitably do still happen. Trucking accidents often result in critical injuries due to the size and weight of the vehicle, so these drivers must always carry their own insurance. Victims of these accidents can seek compensation for damages from the driver’s insurance company.

Is the Driver an Employee or an Independent Contractor?

The target of a personal injury claim or lawsuit can be elusive in a trucking accident. Establishing fault and liability must be handled carefully. Determining whether the driver is a company employee or an independent contractor can be a complex matter.

The company may try to evade financial responsibility by misclassifying the driver as an independent contractor. They sometimes do this to limit their liability in the event of a crash, but it may also occur unintentionally as a clerical error or misunderstanding. A personal injury lawyer can dig deeper to determine whether the driver can legally be classified as an independent contractor or is actually an employee.

In reality, the trucking company can be held liable for accident-related damages of an at-fault driver if the following are true:

  • The trucking company has substantial control over the truck driver and their employment
  • They manage the driver’s schedule or work hours
  • The company sets the driver’s load assignments and mileage rates
  • The driver’s location is tracked by the company
  • They regulate when and how the driver performs their duties

Why Should I Sue For Compensation?

The ability to receive quality medical care, cope with lost income during recovery and possibly reduced wages in the future, and furnish your family with financial security all require financial resources. Compensation for damages acquired because of the accident can obtain these resources for you and your family.

Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another, according to the Oxford Dictionary. Suing someone for their wrongdoing also holds them accountable for their negligence. A lawsuit could point out flaws in their policies or shed light on an unsafe practice. Holding a trucking company and driver responsible for their actions or inactions can lead to policy changes and increased care to prevent a repeat accident in the future. You could be saving lives by bringing their negligence to light.

How Do I Know Who To Sue?

The dedicated team of personal injury lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer can help you determine who is responsible for the accident and will hold them financially accountable for the trauma they have caused. Our firm has been fighting on behalf of injured clients since 1949. We have the experience you need to be treated fairly and receive everything you are entitled to collect. We will identify the negligent actions that leave the trucking company liable for their driver’s actions. We will also assess the possibility of any other parties that may be held responsible.

Who Else Could Be Held Responsible?

Deeply investigating your case will reveal many factors. There is a multitude of actions that could have led to your accident. For example, the cargo in the trailer may have been loaded incorrectly, making the trailer top-heavy. Most drivers do not see inside the trailer because it is packed and sealed by the shipping company. The truck driver accepts the load and later rounds a curve at the recommended speed posted. The top-heavy load causes the trailer to overturn, which results in your accident. In this situation, it is possible to hold the shipping company responsible for this accident because they are at fault for improperly loading the trailer.

Another example of a third-party being held responsible for the accident is if something mechanical is to blame. A manufacturing defect could put the responsibility on the manufacturer of the truck or trailer. Equipment failure due to neglected or poor-quality preventative maintenance checks could cause the mechanic to be held accountable.

Government agencies responsible for road maintenance are sometimes at fault for an accident when the condition of the roadway can be blamed for causing the collision. Construction companies and engineers may also be found negligent for the flawed composition or design of the stretch of road in which the accident took place. These flaws can include the following:

  • Blind intersections
  • Improperly graded curves
  • Landscaping obstructing the driver’s vision
  • Steep, soft, or no shoulders
  • Missing warning signs for upcoming hazards
  • Poor drainage causes the accumulation of water on the road
  • Defects in the median

A personal injury lawyer can find who failed to meet the reasonable standard of care and hold them financially responsible for the accident by filing a claim for damages.

Call Goldblatt + Singer: The St. Louis Injury Firm After Your Truck Accident

Going up against large trucking companies and their teams of lawyers is daunting. Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer has the skills and knowledge to take on this feat for you. Call us today at (314) 231-4100 for a free consultation about your accident. We will determine who was at fault and fight aggressively to ensure you are treated fairly. We may sue the trucking company for your accident or hold the driver responsible for damages depending on your situation. We will always do what is best for your unique circumstances. You can rest assured that you have the best team working for you, and we will identify all the potential defendants for your case. Your peace of mind while you focus on your recovery is important to us, and we will remain accessible to answer all your questions honestly and with integrity.


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