Trucking accidents can leave victims with serious injuries that keep them from returning to work on a temporary or permanent basis. They can also leave you with medical expenses and other bills that keep piling up.
For help getting the compensation you need, you should consider working with an attorney. Not only do our lawyers have years of experience handling auto accident cases, but we also know how to deal with insurance companies and fight your case in court if needed. Do not trust insurance companies or at-fault trucking companies to pay you what they owe you without a fight.
Call Howe Law today at (844) 876-4357 for a free case review with our truck accident attorneys.
How to Hold Trucking Companies Responsible for Truck Accidents in Opelika, AL
In a crash, you might usually expect that one of the drivers would be the one at fault. However, when it comes to trucking accidents, you can often hold the trucking company responsible for the crash for various reasons. The legal grounds for doing so usually boil down to two legal concepts: the trucking company’s decisions and mistakes can contribute directly to a crash, and the trucking company can be responsible for its employee’s (the driver’s) mistakes on the road. Our truck accident lawyers can help with both types of liability, potentially suing the trucking company from multiple angles.
Trucking companies’ decisions and actions often directly affect their trucks and can contribute to crashes. The most straightforward situation for a regular car accident is that the driver is the owner. Whether you sue the driver for mistakes on the road or the owner for issues with the vehicle, you would sue the same person. In the case of a truck accident, the trucking company usually owns the vehicle instead of the driver, so you would likely hold the trucking company liable for any mechanical issues or problems with the vehicle instead of the driver. This means that if the accident is caused by faulty repairs, mechanical issues that went ignored, or other equipment issues, the trucking company might be liable for the crash.
Trucking companies are responsible for their trucks, but they are also responsible for their drivers in a similar way. Just as the trucking company can be held liable for a truck that is not safe for the road, they can also be held liable for a driver that is not safe for the road. If they hired a driver they should have known was dangerous based on their driver record, the company could be liable. Similarly, if they knew a driver on staff had a history of crashes or DUIs but kept them on staff, they could be responsible for any accidents the driver causes.
Lastly, trucking companies sometimes interfere with their drivers and push them to break hours of service rules, overload their vehicles, or violate other trucking regulations. This can also make the trucking company at fault for a crash.
Trucking companies can be held responsible in place of their employees – known as “vicarious liability.” A legal doctrine called “respondeat superior” says that an employer can be made to answer for an employee’s negligence if the employee’s mistakes were made while they were actively working for the company as an employee. That means that trucking companies should be made to answer for accidents their drivers cause while on duty.
Even accidents caused while the trucker was pulling into a rest stop for a break should still lead to a claim against the employer because breaks are a required part of the driver’s duties. However, crashes during personal excursions should not be the trucking company’s fault. Crashes involving independent contractors also are not held against the company because this rule only applies to employees.
When you sue a trucking company this way, they are often held liable in place of the driver, meaning that the trucking company’s full resources are usually vulnerable to a claim. Especially since working-class truck drivers might not be able to afford the injuries they caused you, going after the trucking company is often necessary to get full compensation.
How Insurance Claims Work for Trucking Accidents in Opelika, AL
Your first move after a truck accident is usually to file an insurance claim for your injuries and vehicle damage. However, insurance companies are unlikely to pay what your case is worth, and you may have to go to court afterward to get full compensation. Nonetheless, your insurance claim can be an important part of your case, especially if it does cover everything.
When you initially file your insurance claim, you usually do so with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Alabama uses an “at-fault” or “tort” system for car insurance, which means that the at-fault driver’s insurance pays for the crash. If a truck driver hit you, then they should have commercial driver’s insurance to cover your crash. The trucking company should be insured as well.
These insurance companies and the companies they cover will often deny fault, making it hard to get the damages you need. If they do not accept that their driver caused the crash, they might still offer to settle just to end the case, but the settlement will usually be far too low to cover the damages in your case.
Our lawyers can negotiate with these companies to try to up the settlement and get you the damages you need. Settling by accepting an insurance claim is often the quickest way to get damages paid, but you should not settle if the offer is too low. If you do accept a settlement offer, you usually cannot go back to court for additional damages and are stuck with what you accepted, so never sign anything until a lawyer reviews it.
If we cannot bring the offer up, then we will likely advise you to file a lawsuit and help you through the court process. If the insurance companies still refuse to settle, we can fight the case in open court.
Call Our Truck Accident Attorneys Today
If you were hurt in an accident, call the truck accident lawyers at Howe Law at (844) 876-4357 for a free case evaluation.