A quick guide to your legal rights and options after a serious semi-truck accident
Big-rig truck accidents can lead to serious injuries, substantial property damage, and wrongful death. If you or someone close to you was involved in a truck accident, now is the time to start asking questions. With the help of our truck accident attorney, you can gain a better understanding of the legal process ahead – and how to approach it.
Who should I sue if it’s the truck driver’s fault?
Liability refers to the individual or entity responsible for your accident. It might seem simple at first: The driver caused the accident, so you should sue the driver – right? Not necessarily. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you could seek compensation from the trucking company instead. This is typically determined by whether or not the truck driver is an independent contractor or an employee of the trucking company.
Is the truck driver an employee or an independent contractor?
Determining whether a truck driver is an independent contractor or an employee can be tricky. Additionally, it can have a serious bearing on your personal injury case and the legal steps you’ll need to take to get compensation.
Factors that determine whether a driver is a contractor or employee:
- Does the trucking company have control over the driver? How much?
- Are the driver and the company engaged in the same business / industry?
- Is the driver’s job part of the trucking company’s regular business?
- Does the trucker or the trucking company provide tools and equipment?
What should I tell my insurance company after a truck accident?
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to refrain from conversations about your accident – especially with the other party’s insurance provider. Talking to your insurance carrier is one phone call you can make, though. Here is some of the specific information you might need to relay to your insurance company:
- Time, date, and details of your accident – any vital information regarding your case
- Additional details from photographs and notes you obtained after the accident
- Weather conditions, road conditions, and what the scene of the accident was like
- Damages, including personal injury and property damage caused by the accident
- The extent of your injuries, medical costs, and other financial damages from the accident
While talking to your insurance company is necessary, it’s also important to remember that you should never accept a settlement from your provider without speaking to your lawyer first. Ideally, you should make an appointment with your attorney before you speak with the insurance company.
What can I expect from the trucking company?
Unlike most motorists, truck drivers are often backed by a powerful ally: the trucking company. Because truck accidents can be so devastating, trucking companies may have a designated legal advocate to represent and defend their cases. This means – if you want to seek compensation for your damages – you’ll be going up against more than just a truck driver; you could bring your case against a big trucking company. The best way to deal with this challenge is to work with a lawyer who is experienced in truck accident litigation.
To bring a successful case against the trucking company, you may need to establish the following:
- Truck driver “best practices” for accident avoidance
- Whether the driver owed you “duty of care”
- Whether the trucking company is withholding any evidence