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Injured in a truck accident? Consider a vicarious liability claim

by | Oct 23, 2022 | Blog, Truck Accidents

What makes a truck accident so dangerous for many drivers? Is it the size of the truck and the amount of damage that it can cause to smaller vehicles? Is it that more judgment is necessary to stop the truck at a reasonable distance, and distraction can lead to a serious accident? Is it that the smaller vehicle will take most of the impact from the accident?

For many truck accident victims, it is all of the above. After being seriously hurt in a truck accident, you deserve to seek compensation for the injuries that you suffer. There can be multiple sources of compensation, including a vicarious liability claim against a trucking company. Call a truck accident attorney today to discuss your case.

Truck driver negligence

Several parties can cause a truck accident. While the negligent actions of other drivers can contribute to a truck accident, truck accidents often happen due to the negligence of a truck driver. Like other motorists, truck drivers can seriously hurt others when they speed, fail to properly maneuver their trucks while making turns, cut other drivers off, and fail to come to a safe stop. When truck drivers decide to drink and drive or continue to speed uncontrollably in inclement weather conditions, these actions can also increase the chances of a truck accident.

Trucking company liability

Another party who can be liable for your truck accident is the trucking company that hired the truck driver. Like the truck driver, the trucking company can engage in negligent actions that can place many motorists in danger. Some of the negligent actions that trucking companies can commit involve putting truck drivers back onto the roads too soon after completing another trip and failing to drug test truck drivers.

Whether trucking companies know about the truck driver’s actions or not, they are still responsible for the truck driver’s negligence. This liability of the trucking company stems from a legal principle known as vicarious liability.

What is vicarious liability?

Vicarious liability is a type of liability that all employers have for their employees’ negligent actions. That means the employer is liable for whatever consequences result from the employee’s negligent actions. For a trucking company, this means that it bears responsibility for the truck driver’s conduct that leads to an accident and injuries. Because of this, you have the right to hold the trucking company that hired that truck driver liable for your injuries in addition to the truck driver.

Other liable parties

Truck manufacturer negligence

Another liable party that you might sue in your truck accident case is the truck manufacturer. The truck manufacturer can be liable in a lawsuit when a defective part is discovered within the truck driver’s commercial vehicle. If this defect is responsible for your accident, you can hold the manufacturer liable for creating a defective and unsafe product. Like the truck driver and the trucking company, failing to manufacture a safe vehicle part for a truck is an example of negligence on the part of the manufacturer.

Cargo loader negligence

Cargo loaders can also be liable for your truck accident based on specific factors. If your accident happened because of the cargo that was improperly loaded, you could sue the cargo loaders for your injuries. Even if the cargo becomes unsecured during the trip, the cargo loaders can still be liable for your accident. The records of the cargo loaders may help determine the percentage of liability for which the cargo loaders will be responsible.

Injuries from truck accidents

Surviving a truck accident is truly a lucky feat. If you are fortunate enough to survive a truck accident, you will likely suffer substantial injuries.

These catastrophic injuries can include:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Fractured bones
  • Significant nerve damage
  • Traumatic amputations
  • Vision or hearing loss

These injuries are as severe as they sound. With catastrophic injuries, there is little chance that your body or mind will return to its previous state before the truck accident. You will have to make significant changes in your personal and professional life to learn how to live with your catastrophic injuries.

Damages you can claim in a truck accident lawsuit

The physical injuries you endure from your truck accident are just some of the damages you will experience. With your physical injuries, there is a significant amount of medical expenses for which you will be responsible. In addition to your medical expenses, there is a certain amount of time that you might have to take off from work to deal with your injuries and the recovery stage.

Even after you take time off from work and receive proper medical care, you might still suffer mental and physical pain stemming from the truck accident. Depending on how much damage to your vehicle, you will likely also stress about how you will get to work until your vehicle is repaired or worry about how to pay for a rental vehicle.

The right to seek compensation for your damages

As a truck accident victim, you have several ways to seek coverage for the expenses of your accident. You should not be responsible for paying any of the losses the truck driver caused.

When another party is responsible for your truck accident, that party must financially compensate you for your injuries. Damages such as medical expenses and property damage are significant losses that can become quite expensive very quickly. When a negligent party causes these damages, that party should compensate you for your accident-related losses.

While the truck driver’s insurance policy might not be enough to cover your losses, a vicarious liability claim can help ensure you receive full compensation. You can file a claim with the trucking company’s insurance, which is often far more substantial than an individual driver’s.

Filing a truck accident claim

The first step in seeking compensation for your truck accident is to file insurance claims. While many believe that all injury cases will occur in the courtroom, that rarely happens. Many truck accident claims are likely to result in a settlement. However, this does not mean it is an easy process.

When filing your claim, you have the opportunity to provide all credible evidence that can prove your point. Even if you have clear evidence of liability, insurance companies can still challenge your claim.

When filing claims, you have the opportunity to hold several parties liable for your accident. This is the time when you should consider filing a vicarious liability claim. Vicarious liability claims are highly common in truck accident cases. Your truck accident lawyer can review the circumstances of your crash and the relevant parties to identify when you need to file a vicarious liability claim.

A vicarious liability claim is against the trucking company that employs the driver or that allowed the driver to use a company truck. Whether your truck accident happened because of a negligent truck driver, a defective truck part, or the mistake of a cargo loader, it might fall back to the trucking company or another corporation.

The actions that trucking companies must take can prevent these types of truck accidents from occurring, though the company does not have to be negligent to be vicariously liable. Your attorney will know how to demonstrate why a company should be responsible for your losses.

Elements of vicarious liability

Some of the elements that you must meet in a vicarious liability claim include evidence of employment, evidence that the employee was on the clock, evidence that the employee’s actions came under the purpose of employment, and more.

Evidence of employment by the employer

You must prove that the trucking company employed the truck driver at the time of the accident. Some truck drivers can be classified as independent contractors while accepting orders from a trucking company. If this is the case, you cannot hold the trucking company liable for your injuries.

Evidence that the employee was “on the clock”

You must prove that the employee was “on the clock” or working under the employer’s direction at the time of the accident. If your truck accident happened while the truck driver was not clocked in or returning from a trip, the trucking company might not be liable for your accident.

Evidence that the employee’s actions fall under the scope of their employment

If a truck driver was in the process of dropping cargo off and accepted another trip on behalf of the trucking company, that can be considered a work-related task that the truck driver is performing.

Evidence that the employer has control over the employee’s work methods

You must prove that the trucking company fully controls the truck driver’s work. For a truck driver, that can be proven by the methods by which trucking companies remain in communication with truck drivers while they are completing their trips.

How insurance companies will attempt to deny your claims

Even if insurance companies are aware of their client’s liability, they will still make every effort to challenge your claim. One of the ways that insurance companies will try to refute your claim is by stating that your personal actions contributed to your accident. By stating that you owe a percentage of fault in your accident, insurance adjusters will try to reduce the liability their clients will be responsible for. The right lawyer can fight back against such assertions.

Insurance companies of trucking companies might try to challenge vicarious liability. They might attempt to question the truck driver’s employment status or whether the driver was in the course of their employment when the accident occurred. A lawyer can also provide evidence to support a finding of vicarious liability whenever possible.

Seeking the help of a truck accident lawyer

When going up against insurance companies, you need an experienced truck accident attorney on your side who can fight for you. By countering their arguments, the attorney will help you seek the compensation that you deserve. You need an experienced truck accident lawyer to help hold the correct parties accountable for your injuries. Here are some ways a truck accident lawyer can benefit your lawsuit.

Gathering the best evidence

You need the strongest evidence for your lawsuit to hold a trucking company vicariously liable for your injuries. A truck accident lawyer can gather the best evidence for your case, including copies of the truck driver’s logbook, copies of the truck driver’s DOT (Department of Transportation) paperwork, and information from any apps truck drivers use when driving. It takes an experienced truck accident lawyer to gain access to this type of information.

Refuting the insurance company’s claims

Just as important, a skilled truck accident lawyer can refute the arguments made by the insurance adjusters. A truck accident lawyer knows the arguments that insurance adjusters will use to avoid paying out legitimate claims. Your truck accident lawyer can prepare you for the different arguments that insurance adjusters will make and devise the best strategy to counter those arguments. Your truck accident lawyer can also negotiate for greater amounts of compensation if the insurance adjusters are trying to lowball you.

Offering strong legal representation

Another benefit of having a truck accident lawyer is that they can provide the best legal representation for you in court. Just like in a settlement negotiation, the insurance adjusters will make various arguments against you in court. The only difference is that these arguments will be amidst jurors and judges who can believe these arguments. Your truck accident lawyer can present the strongest case for you and convince jurors or a judge that your case of events is more likely what happened.

Contact a skilled truck accident lawyer today

To prove that a trucking company is vicariously liable for your truck accident, you need the help of a skilled truck accident lawyer. Hiring a truck accident lawyer can increase your chances of winning your lawsuit and receiving the compensation you need for your injuries. Call a truck accident attorney today to schedule a consultation about your case.