Personal injury cases stemming from heavy truck crashes (18-wheelers, semi-trucks, tractor trailers, or other commercial trucks) involve issues that aren’t present in a typical car accident case. Governing the trucking industry is many state and federal regulations that add complexity to the case. Your case could involve many different insurance coverages and someone other than the driver could be liable.
Identifying All the Defendants
Determining who is responsible for injuries can be difficult due to the presence of multiple defendants. For example, several defendants can hold a certain percentage of the liability, depending on the number of individuals involved.
In some cases, the trucking company that employs the driver holds partial liability for the accident. There are a few caveats to this principle, however. The claimant will need to show the trucking company employs the driver instead of the driver being an independent contractor. If the driver is a contractor, the trucking company is generally not liable.
You should utilize an experienced accident lawyer to prove the employment status of the driver, prior to beginning a case. Beyond the trucking company, it takes several entities to put that truck on the road. Depending on the situation, a truck injury claim could involve:
- The driver and the trucking company
- The owner of the trailer
- A freight broker
- A repair shop that worked on the truck at some earlier point
- The truck’s manufacturer
- Whoever loaded the truck
- The shipper
For example, a crash caused by cargo falling from the truck bed could involve a defect in the trailer itself, a truck that was improperly loaded, or even a repair shop that poorly maintained the truck or trailer. This example represents at least three possible defendants other than the driver. You can see how these cases quickly become complex.
Accidents May Involve Multiple Insurance Companies
Often, a claim has more than one insurance company involved. The truck, the trailer, and the load may have separate insurance policies. Claims may need filing with more than one of these companies in addition to claims against the driver and the trucking company. Sometimes, various insurance companies try to shift liability onto each other. This leads to confusion, frustration, and considerable delay for the injured party.
You should always expect a fight from insurers in these cases, largely because of the high policy limit requirements for semi-truck operators. These policies are often valued well into the seven-figure territory, so insurers will do everything they can to deny claims or minimize the payout. These cases require an experienced lawyer to settle your claim and increase your chances of a fair settlement.
Be Ready for the Long Haul
Multiple defendants and insurance companies can prevent a quick settlement. Defendants and insurers will spend time deciding the weight of responsibility each should bear. Due to the nature of the accident, trials may become necessary to resolve disagreements on the amount of the damages.
The right attorney is critical for these cases to help you receive what you deserve and navigate the process.
Do You Have a Truck Accident Injury? Call a Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has an injury from a truck accident, contact a dedicated personal injury attorney for experienced help. We are here to help you. Give Ted B. Lyon and Associates a call today at 800-TedLyon.