Who Can be Held Liable for a Truck Accident
December 16, 2022 / Truck Accidents
A Truck Accident Attorney Can Help Prove Liability
Trucks can be massive, heavy, and difficult to steer and maneuver, and smaller vehicles are no match for them in a crash. Victims of truck accidents can be left with devastating and life-changing injuries that can include brain and spinal cord damage, paralysis, and amputations. Survivors often face long, painful recoveries that require expensive rehabilitation and continuing care, and medical bills mount up at a time they are unable to work. Some injuries are severe enough to lead to death.
If you or a loved one has been injured or someone has died in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses through insurance or a personal injury lawsuit. However, lawsuits involving commercial trucks are especially complicated. There are complex trucking rules and regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and from Indiana law, and when trucks are involved in accidents, violations of those rules can lead to liability. Also, there are often multiple defendants who may be held liable for your injuries, and doing so involves identifying them and proving how they were at fault.
In addition, insurance companies are out for their own benefit and will try to get you to settle for as little as possible. They are equipped with a team of agents and lawyers working to minimize or deny benefits and fight your lawsuit. They use tactics such as trying to get you to admit fault or making a lowball offer they hope that you will accept quickly. If you do, this may keep you from being able to receive what you are actually entitled to or getting additional benefits should your injuries worsen and your costs increase.
To get fair compensation, it can help to have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side who knows how to identify who is liable for your accident and how to go up against large corporations and their insurance companies to fight for justice and the settlement you deserve.
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident?
In a truck accident, there are often multiple defendants who may be held liable for your injuries. For example, if a truck driver was found to be driving while distracted or impaired, the driver may be held personally liable. Depending on the circumstances, there may be other liable parties, such as:
- The company the driver worked for
- The manufacturer of the truck or its parts, if there was an equipment failure
- The owner of the cargo and the company that loaded the cargo incorrectly
- The company that leased the truck
- Third-party contractors and subcontractors
- Other negligent drivers that may have been involved in the crash
- The manufacturer of the truck or its equipment or parts
- The mechanic responsible for maintaining the vehicle
- The government entity responsible for maintaining the road
- A road repair company that failed to do repairs correctly or put up warning signs
- A supervisor who failed to train and supervise the driver properly.
All these parties may have insurance, and they should all be identified and named in a lawsuit, but doing so requires thorough investigation and gathering evidence to prove fault. It is not easy to go up against big corporations and insurance companies. When you have a truck accident attorney on your side, your attorney will get to work immediately on your behalf. Your attorney should:
- Meet with you to hear your version of how the accident happened and determine whether you have a valid case and what it should be worth, and who the responsible parties may be
- Ensure that you get proper medical treatment and that everything is documented
- Investigate the accident and gather and preserve evidence such as from traffic cameras, police and medical reports, driver cell phone records, truck maintenance and employer hiring and training records, and truck black box data, if available, which can show how the truck was being operated at the time of the crash
- Interview witnesses, police officers, and first responders
- Hire experts to reconstruct the accident and testify on your behalf
- Hire experts to evaluate your costs and injuries and testify as to how they affect your life now and into the future, such as the costs and modifications to a home or vehicle that may be needed to accommodate a disability, the effects on your earnings, the type of continuing care you may need, and the physical and emotional effects on you and your family
- File all forms and paperwork and make court appearances in accordance with Texas requirements
- Locate all insurance companies for each defendant, and handle all communications with insurance companies and their attorneys to negotiate for a fair settlement
- Build your case and take it to trial if necessary, handling every stage of the legal process, from filing pretrial motions, to discovery, to presenting evidence and making closing arguments, to filing an appeal.
When big trucks are involved, because evidence such as black box data can be destroyed, it is especially important to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible while evidence is available and witnesses can be found.
Determining Who is Liable for a Truck Accident in Indiana
Trucking and Insurance Companies Have Lawyers – You Should, Too
To get fair compensation, it can help to have an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side who knows how determine liability. Your truck accident attorney knows how important it is to find all potentially liable parties and show how they were negligent and at fault for causing the accident that injured you.
For example, in a truck accident, if the driver was an employee of a large company and not an independent contractor, it can make a big difference in the settlement amount. This is because under the law of vicarious liability, a company is responsible for the negligent actions of their employees when they are working within the scope of employment; but a company is not usually responsible for negligence by independent contractors. A careful investigation, examination of evidence and accident reconstruction by experts will point to the potentially liable parties.
To win your case, your truck accident attorney must be able to show that each of the liable parties named as defendant in the case was negligent and at fault for causing the accident. To prove negligence legally, your truck accident attorney must show the existence of the following elements:
- Duty – The defendant owed you a duty of care not to cause harm.
- Breach – The defendant breached that duty by acting or failing to act.
- Cause – This breach caused a crash and your injuries.
- Damages – You suffered actual damages, monetary or otherwise, as a result.
Once these elements are shown, the negligent parties who contributed to the accident can be held liable for the damages you received.
Damage Awards You May Recover
In a successful Indiana truck accident case, you may receive an award for compensatory damages. This award should cover your economic monetary losses and your noneconomic damages as well.
Economic damages are monetary costs which can be calculated, such as:
- Medical and rehabilitative bills and equipment
- Costs to modify a home or vehicle, such as for a wheelchair
- Costs of continuing care
- Lost wages and future earning capacity
- Property damage.
Noneconomic damages are for loses that do not have a specific dollar value but negatively impact your life, including:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Permanent disability
- Disfigurement and permanent scarring
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of quality and enjoyment of life.
In some rare cases, punitive damages may also be awarded to punish negligent parties for willful negligence or especially egregious behavior, and to act as a deterrent for similar misconduct in the future.
The amounts of damages in truck accident cases vary greatly, and could range from the thousands to millions of dollars depending on the circumstances of the case. In general, if your injuries involve permanent damage and require long-term care, or if a wrongful death is involved, the settlement will be higher than if you received minor injuries that will heal in a few months. If your case goes to trial it may result in a higher settlement, but will often take longer to resolve.
Your truck accident lawyers will evaluate how much in damages you should receive to cover your losses after examining your individual situation and determining which defendants can be held liable, and what insurance and assets they may have.
Call Our Truck Accident Lawyers for Help
Truck accidents are complicated, and determining liability requires a careful review of medical, toxicology, police reports, eyewitness statements, videos and photographs from the accident site, and expert opinions. The experienced commercial trucking accident lawyers at Stephenson Rife are fully prepared to determine liability and go up against large trucking firms and their attorneys to fight for the settlement you deserve. No matter what legal challenge your case involves, our legal team provides caring, confident and cost-effective service you can count on, which is why we are the law firm that other law firms consult in difficult cases.
After a crash, the steps you take will directly affect your case. Avoid talking to insurance companies and call us as soon as possible for legal help. Don’t delay, as it takes time to investigate and build your case, and there are time limits for filing a lawsuit. Indiana has a statute of limitations, a deadline which is generally two years from the date of the accident for personal injury cases (Indiana code section 34-11-2-4 (1). If you do not file on time, the courts are likely to refuse to hear your case.
Let us start working for you while evidence and witnesses can be found. At Stephenson Rife, we provide a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the circumstances of your truck accident and determine the best way to move forward. We work on a contingency basis, which means there are no fees to you unless and until we win your case, so you have nothing to lose.
Find out what we can do for you by contacting us or calling at (317) 680-2350 for your free consultation today.
Attorney Mike Stephenson
Attorney Mike Stephenson has 40 years of experience and is a trusted advisor to many individuals and companies. His current practice is dominated by civil litigation in state and federal courts. He focuses much of his time on handling catastrophic injuries caused by all types of accidents, including motor vehicle, trucking, workplace injuries, product liability, just to name a few. Mike is a proven advocate and trial attorney. He has served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials, and has handled litigation in 18 states. [ Attorney Bio ]