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Suing a Truck Driver After a Truck Accident

October 7, 2020

The sad truth is that truck accidents are far too common in the United States. According to a preliminary report published in January 2020, 2,734 fatal truck and bus accidents were reported in 2019. In those crashes, 3,087 people lost their lives. This goes to show just how serious truck accidents are! In the unlucky event that a loved one or you yourself ends up injured in a truck accident, you will be filing a claim against two parties: the trucking company and the truck driver. This is why suing an individual following a truck accident is more complex than filing a suit against a non-commercial driver. It’s worth remembering that while suing is an available option, there are alternative ways to seek compensation out of court.

While this write-up aims to educate you on your legal options following a truck accident, consulting an experienced and reputable Revere truck accident lawyer is by far the best way to get all your questions and legal concerns addressed.

Determining Fault in a Truck Accident

Before you can proceed to file your claim in a truck accident case, you must first establish who was responsible for the crash. Typically, the party whose reckless, careless, or negligent actions caused an accident that led to injury is liable for the damages.

In regular auto accident cases, the at-fault party is usually the other driver. However, things are a bit different for truck accidents. Multiple partiers, including the truck driver, can be held accountable for damages in a commercial truck accident. Below are examples of parties that can be held liable in a truck accident lawsuit:

  • The truck driver
  • The truck driver’s employer or the trucking company if they were negligent in their hiring process
  • The parts or vehicle manufacturer if a defective part was the cause of the crash
  • Relevant cargo company if they were negligent when loading the cargo
  • The maintenance/repair company if they failed to address a maintenance or repair issue correctly
  • Other motorists involved in the crash

As you can see, there are multiple parties involved in ensuring that 18-wheelers and other heavy commercial trucks are safe on the road. In some situations, one party may bear 100% liability for the crash. In others, multiple parties may share fault.

Considering that you might have to go against multiple parties, all working with attorneys, you must find an experienced truck accident attorney and start investigating the specific facts surrounding the crash. This might involve several steps, including checking the truck’s dashboard camera, truck maintenance logs, cargo records, drug test results, employee records, witness statements, etc.

Filing an Injury Claim for a Truck Accident vs. Filing a Lawsuit

After determining liability, you can proceed to weigh your options regarding the best course of legal action to take. Typically, your first step should be to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurer. A good number of truck accident personal injury cases are settled during the claim process.

After you’re done with the insurance claim, the insurance company will get back to you with a response. They can either respond with a counteroffer, accept your claim as-is, or deny your claim. Often, the insurance company will give you a lowball offer. While getting a hefty sum of cash upfront is very tempting, never settle for the first offer.

If you get a low settlement offer, your attorney will take the reins and negotiate for a more favorable settlement. If the negotiations go well, you will accept the now favorable agreed-upon settlement offer and receive your compensation. Most injury cases come to a close here; however, some may require a lawsuit.

When Can You Sue Someone Personally After a Truck Accident?

If negotiations with the insurance company fall through, or if the insurance firm outrightly denies your claim, then you may start looking into filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits are expensive and lengthy; for this reason, this is not a decision you want to make on a whim. You will need to carefully assess the gains and the risks of filing a lawsuit. A truck accident attorney can be beneficial at this point.  

The Truck Driver

While you can file a suit against the truck driver’s employer (the trucking company) or other negligent parties, you can also personally sue the truck driver. Depending on the facts surrounding your truck accident case, you may have to file a suit against both the truck driver and the trucking company, or any other party that had some degree of fault for the crash.

If the driver of the truck is an employee of a trucking company, then the company in question is accountable for the driver’s actions when they are on the clock. With this in mind, there are situations where filing a suit against the truck driver makes sense. An excellent example is when the truck driver violated trucking regulations when the crash occurred, or they were acting maliciously.

What if the truck driver was an independent contractor? In such a case, considering that the truck driver might have fewer assets under their name, you may have a tough time obtaining the compensation you deserve. It is crucial you discuss such a situation with your Revere truck accident lawyer to determine whether it’s a smart move to personally file a lawsuit against the truck driver after the crash.

Another Driver Involved in the Crash

If it is established that another motorist was at-fault for the crash and not the trucking company or the truck driver, then you can sue that driver as well. While such cases are rare, they do happen. And when they do, you’ll need to file a personal injury claim with the other driver’s insurer to settle.

Seeking Compensation for Partial Fault Following a Truck Accident

If multiple parties are established to be at-fault for the truck accident, each responsible party will be accountable for the degree or percentage of fault they hold. If you were partially responsible/at-fault for the truck accident, you could still seek compensation provided that your percentage of fault is less than 50%.

If you are less than 50%, your overall recoverable damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault. This is commonly known as “modified comparative negligence” in Massachusetts. This statute is particularly significant in truck accidents where multiple parties can bear some liability for the crash.

Consult a Revere Truck Accident Lawyer for Free Today

Do you have pressing questions and concerns regarding your legal options after a truck accident? Contact Kelly & Associates today. We will evaluate your unique case’s details and guide you on the best way to proceed to ensure you recover much-deserved compensation. Remember, you get a free, no-risk initial consultation and case review.

Call us at 1-800-LAW-GUYS or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation.

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    Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.