Over 70 million people work in the trucking industry in the United States. So, with millions of trucks on the roads every day, the possibility of an accident always exists. This is where a truck accident lawyer can help.
These mammoth vehicles can weigh up to 80,000lbs and can be difficult to drive, especially in less-than-optimal weather conditions. They are hard to maneuver (especially in an emergency), need much longer distances in which to stop, and have multiple blind spots. When your car, small van, or SUV are struck by this 80,0000lb mass going 60-80 mph, the physics involved is massive and usually causes disastrous damage to your vehicle and its passengers.
The injuries to you and your passengers can be extremely severe, and the medical treatment needed for the recovery and loss of income may easily add up to 6 figures and months of recovery time. When you’re trying to decide who to sue, the first fact is to determine who is liable for your accident. These cases can result in multiple parties sharing the blame and various parties being sued.
Which parties can share the liability for my truck accident? A brief overview is below:
- The truck driver is usually the first party that your personal injury attorney will consider. California is a no-fault state, and the driver may bear the whole burden of liability, if his direct negligence caused the accident. It’s possible the driver has not taken the mandatory breaks during his day, was impaired, or willingly drove his vehicle in a reckless manner. If direct negligence is proven, the driver may bear the full liability.
- The manufacturer of the truck may also be liable as to why your accident occurred. These vehicles are large and consist of thousands of parts and systems. For that reason, recalls on these vehicles are common. Certain trucks may have inherent mechanical flaws that contributed to your accident. Your truck accident lawyer will know at least some of these flaws, look for others, and will be invaluable in determining these important details.
- The trucking company and/or the cargo company could also be in this mix. They employ the driver, load his truck, and may even maintain it. If they overload, miss-load a truck, or press the driver to the point of exhaustion, they certainly could be liable. Getting their cargo to the destination promptly is their main concern. Safety, unfortunately, may come second. Taking on these companies is daunting, but your Pasadena truck accident lawyers will have the knowledge and means to fight for you and recover the maximum compensation for your injuries.
What Should I Do First After a Truck Accident?
The most important thing to do first is to get the medical attention you and your other passengers need. This should be your main concern, since these accidents may result in severe injury.
The next most important act is to notify your insurance company and file your claim. The quicker you get the proper documented medical attention and put your insurance claim in motion, the more pertinent information your lawyer has for your suit. He or she will investigate the details of your claim and help in the determination of fault. Be aware that the insurance company may even offer you a settlement claim much faster than you’d expect. This will be tempting, but it is not advisable to accept any settlement offer before you consult with your Pasadena or California personal injury attorney.
The insurance company will provide you and your attorney with their findings, but it is in their best interests to pay as little as possible! The sooner you consult with your truck accident lawyer, the better. Your truck accident lawyer is working for you and your family, not the insurance company. By compiling all the facts, then deciding who is liable, they will be successful in maximizing the compensation that you require.
What if the Truck Driver is Not an Employee, but Works as an Independent Contractor?
If the driver is an independent contractor, he may own the truck, provide his insurance, and maintain the truck himself. If this is the case, the company usually is not held responsible for the operator’s actions, but there are exceptions.
Although each state’s laws may vary, generally, the emphasis is placed on whether the employer has the right to control the exact manner and means that the work must be performed. If the employer controls the result of the work but not how the result is accomplished, then an independent contractor relationship is probable.
These legalities are complex and may have to determine exactly what acts are within the “scope of employment.”
In determining this relationship, the courts may look at:
- The nature, time, and place of the employee’s conduct
- The intent of the employee when the accident occurred
- Incidental acts the employer should reasonably expect the employee to do
- The amount of time doing work activity, as opposed to personal activity
Admittedly, this is a vague legal area; however, as an example, if a driver rear-ends your vehicle while making a delivery, the employer still may be held liable. The driver was acting “within the scope of employment” of his employer.
Time is Not on Your Side
The quicker you receive documented medical attention, file your claim, and consult with a personal injury attorney, the better you can expect your outcome to be.
These cases are complex and may involve individuals and multiple companies in a lawsuit. Considering the severe injury, recovery period, and financial loss you could incur, don’t make assumptions. Your truck accident lawyer will help ensure your case is handled correctly every step of the way.