Trucking Accidents, Who Do I Sue? The Answer May Surprise You.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were 119,000 injury-related crashes involving large trucks in 2016. The sheer size and weight of a truck, when compared to an automobile, means these injuries are often more serious. In fact, 4,440 of these crashes ended in a fatality. While the damages incurred can be great, the complexity of recovering the damages you deserve can be even greater. That’s because more than one party and often more than one insurance policy is involved. What should you do if you are the victim of a large trucking accident, particularly if the driver is an independent contractor rather than employed by the trucking company?
“You almost always want to look at both the driver and the trucking company,” advises CEO Dennis VanDerGinst of VanDerGinst Law, P.C. “If the driver’s actions caused the accident because the driver is an employee or agent of the company, the company can be held liable as well.” The company who hires the driver is liable under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.” This is a Latin phrase translating to “let the master answer.” In fact, the company can be held liable for more than just the driver’s negligence. “This could be the case if they were found to have hired an unqualified driver (negligent hiring) or failed to properly supervise the driver, or failed to properly maintain the truck causing or contributing to the accident,” explains VanDerGinst.
There may even be additional parties beyond the driver and the trucking company that could be found liable. For example, the owner of the truck itself may be different than the owner of the trailer, or there may be a third-party company who is responsible for loading the truck, and negligence in these actions could have contributed to the crash. “Fault frequently lies with a number of parties, and sometimes multiple insurance companies are forced to pay a portion of the damages,” says VanDerGinst.
If dealing with multiple insurance companies isn’t complex enough, add to the mix the complicated federal regulations that govern interstate traffic and the abundance of evidence that is usually involved in a large trucking accident. “There are pieces of evidence that need to be secured right away, especially the logs truckers are required to keep,” notes VanDerGinst, “as well as GPS records and onboard crash records from the truck. Think of all of this like an airplane’s black box.”
If you are the unfortunate victim of an accident involving a large truck, you should immediately contact emergency personnel and the police so you can receive prompt medical attention and an investigation and a police report can begin. Do not speak to any representatives from the opposing parties’ insurance companies. Instead, contact a qualified attorney at VanDerGinst Law who can guide you through the complexity of dealing with multiple insurance agents, mounds of evidence and complicated regulations to secure your rightful damages.
If you or a loved one have suffered an injury due to a truck accident, contact VanDerGinst Law today. We have knowledgeable and experienced attorneys who can help guide you through the complexities of your case and help you obtain the financial compensation you deserve. The consultation is free and there is never a fee unless we win. Call VanDerGinst Law at 800-797-5391. The law is tough, being injured is tougher. We’ll make it easier for you.