A truck accident brings with it unique legal questions and challenges. That’s not surprising – after all, commercial trucks loaded to the brim can exceed 80,000 pounds in weight, and accidents involving such heft can be truly devastating. Still, a large truck’s involvement in a fender-bender does not immediately guarantee that the driver is at fault. Read below as we outline some of the legal basics to understand regarding truck accidents.
Comparative negligence still applies. Yes, that truck is huge. And yes, the driver may have swerved at an inopportune time, leading to a jackknife. Cars may be smashed domino-style down a whole stretch of highway. But what of the carelessness shown by the other drivers involved? Were one or more in the truck’s blind spot? Was a motorist weaving in and out of traffic, cutting off the truck’s path at the worst moment possible? Remember: It is still possible to prevail in a lawsuit when a driver is partially at fault – but if the percentage of culpability is high, chances are low or nil.
You may or may not be able to sue the trucking company that employs the driver. Many truck drivers are independent contractors. One week they may haul tomatoes, oranges and grapefruit; the next, they may be at the steering wheel of a baked goods rig. Drivers who are in fact employed directly by the company whose goods they are hauling have an employment relationship with that company. Therefore, the company in theory can be held liable.
The same holds true for hazardous materials. Imagine a truck accident occurs and a slurry of hazardous waste spills onto the ground, releasing airborne pathogens and affecting the health of nearby passengers. If it can be proven that the driver was not offered proper training for such a haul, damages may be sought. It is the hazardous material company’s duty to inform the driver that what they are carrying can cause real harm.
When the other driver is at fault, recovering for lost wages due to injury is reasonable. Hopefully, your injuries are mild and recovery is swift. Even minor injuries can mean lost wages, however, and just as with a regular automobile accident, you are entitled to sue for lost income. In this case, make sure you retain a truck accident lawyer to review the case. He or she will look at each detail of the accident and deduce whether you stand to benefit from a lawsuit.
Commercial trucks are modern-day mammoths of our roadways, and when they are improperly operated, injury or death can occur. If you are a victim of a truck accident and have questions about your rights as a victim, contact the Coleman Law Group at (727) 214-0400 for a free consultation.