The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that as many as 17% of all fatal accidents on the roadways around the nation involve an 18-wheeler truck. Accidents involving 18-wheelers differ from other types of car accidents because the consequences of them are typically far more drastic both financially and due to the loss of life (which is common, unfortunately).
When you are in an accident that involves an 18-wheeler, it is more likely that someone is injured and there is also the potential for fatality leading to either a personal injury case or a wrongful death. Knowing who is liable and responsible for damages, however, is not always easy.
When a car accident happens, it is usually easy to decipher who the at-fault party is and to hold them accountable. But with 18-wheeler trucks, quite often, more than just the driver might be held liable.
Trucking accidents usually take a lot more time and investigate to settle, which is why it is essential that you hire trucking accident lawyers who specializes not just in auto accident law.
What are the most common causes of a trucking accident? Due to the nature of driving a truck and its enormous size, there are common causes for trucking accidents that include:
- Left turns
- Stopped trucks
- Improper maneuvering
- Rear end collisions
- Cargo shifts
Deciding who is at-fault can be challenging and time-consuming, but it is essential to the case. The courts must determine how the accident happened and who or what caused the crash. Knowing who is most at-fault is crucial in determining who is liable for paying for your trucking accident. To discover who you can hold accountable you must first learn how the accident happened.
How 18-wheeler accidents are different from other vehicle collisions
When an 18-wheeler is involved in an accident, the process of working through the case is more complicated than a typical car accident. Since there are a vast number of rules and laws that govern how trucks drive on the roads, things like the type of truck, who owns it, if the driver is an independent contractor, and who was responsible for maintaining the truck, are all things that need to be investigated to know who to hold accountable.
For instance, certain laws dictate how many hours a truck driver can work consecutively. If a driver travels longer than they are allowed to, then it is possible to both the driver and the company liable. The company can be held responsible because they permitted, or even encouraged, the driver to drive illegally.
Similarly, if the accident were due to careless loading, whoever loaded the truck improperly, would, likewise, be liable for an accident happening. That is why it takes a lot of resources and investigation to determine who is involved before you seek compensation.
What types of damages are you entitled to if you are in an 18-wheeler accident?
If you are injured in a trucking accident, you are entitled to recover damages for
- Loss of income
- Medical costs
- Loss of earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, if the actions were egregious enough
- Other damages that you might suffer due to your injuries
What is the theory of recovery in trucking accidents?
There are a vast number of legal arguments that can be made to help you recover for your damages in trucking accident law. It is possible for many people to be held accountable including the trucking company due to:
- Lease liability
- Employer liability
- Negligence in hiring or retaining truck drivers with poor driving histories
It might also be possible for you to hold the trucking company’s insurance carrier liable due to:
- Insurance broker liability
- Negligent hiring by the trucking company
- Inappropriate or negligent inspection, repair or maintenance of the truck
If it is determined that the truck had a mechanical issue that was not inspected or maintained correctly, then that might be enough cause to sue the company that is responsible for managing and double checking the trucks.
Since 18-wheelers accidents are complicated, it might be possible to hold more than just the driver accountable when an accident happens. To figure out who is liable for your injuries after a trucking accident, hire a professional who understands trucking regulations and laws to get all that you are entitled to.