After a Trucking Accident Do I Sue the Truck Driver or the Trucking Company?
When filing a commercial trucking accident lawsuit, you are generally dealing with two legal entities: the truck driver and the trucking company. As such, your lawsuit will be a bit more complicated and require a few extra investigative steps to prove fault and obtain damages than a regular car crash lawsuit.
This is why it is essential to have an attorney who has experience in handling trucking accident litigation and has access to leading industry experts.
When Can I Sue a Trucking Company?
Typically, as long as the truck driver is an employee of a trucking company, your lawsuit will seek damages from both the driver as well the trucking company who employs him. This is because Texas law states that trucking companies are responsible for the negligent actions of their employees.
In addition to being responsible for driver negligence, trucking companies are also responsible for ensuring:
- Their drivers have obtained and maintained proper licensing to operate a commercial vehicle
- Their drivers have not committed any disqualifying criminal offenses that would compromise their CDL
- Their drivers understand they are prohibited from using handheld devices while driving
- Their drivers are in compliance with hours of service regulations at all times
- Their vehicles are properly maintained and inspected regularly
Failure to adhere to these regulations or any others coded in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act (FMCSA) can result in a trucking company being held responsible for your injuries.
In some cases, your attorney may decide it is best for you to sue the trucking company only and not the driver. This is because you are seeking compensation for your injuries and any other damages. While you may want to bring the driver to justice, limiting your lawsuit to the company might be the most financially viable action and the most likely to help you in your recovery.
When Might My Lawsuit Be Limited to the Truck Driver?
If the truck driver is determined to be an independent contractor with no ties to a trucking company, your lawsuit may be limited to the driver alone. In other instances, a judge may decide that the facts of the case preempts a lawsuit against the trucking company and throw out everything except you lawsuit against the driver.
Having an experienced trucking accident attorney on your side can help prevent such scenarios from happen. By making use of expert witnesses and technical resources, Thomas J. Henry is able to examine all angles of your case, finding evidence, relationships, and violations that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.
No matter the circumstances of your trucking accident, it is worth your time to consult with an attorney to discuss your options.
What Should I Look Out for When Suing a Trucking Company?
Generally, a trucking company will attempt to distance themselves from an accident in an attempt to limit their liability, even if this means throwing their own employee under the bus. Trucking companies have teams of investigators and attorneys whose sole purpose is to challenge claims and reduce the amount of money that the trucking company has to payout.
Among the tactics often used by trucking companies to chip away at your claim are:
- Recorded Statements – The trucking company’s insurer will contact you after the accident requesting a recorded statement. While they claim this is to they can better understand your injuries and streamline the payout process, they are actually trying to get you on record saying something that harms you case. It is essential that you speak to an attorney before providing such a statement. Do not be bullied, you have no legal requirement to answer the insurer’s questions without the advice of your attorney.
- Low Settlement Offers – The insurance company wants to settle your claim for as little as possible. They know that you are in a state of chaos and confusion and will take advantage of it. While it may be tempting, do not accept the insurers offer without consulting with your attorney first.
- Destroying Evidence – Often times, a trucking company will attempt to destroy or alter records or evidence after an accident with the goal of hiding their mistakes. An attorney can file a court ordered temporary restraining order in order to preserve any and all evidence in the state that it was in at the time of your accident.
- Not Ordering a Drug or Alcohol Test – Some companies will tell drivers involved in an accident not to submit to a drug or alcohol test if they think the driver was impaired when the crash occurred. The driver may feel pressured as being under the influence while behind the wheel can end their career. Federal regulations actually require drivers get tested following a crash. Still, the fine for violating this regulation is much less damaging that the repercussions of a trucker driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Delaying the Claim – May trucking companies will attempt to delay your claim in the hopes that you will lose the will and financial resources to fight. Thomas J. Henry has the money and manpower to see your case through to the end and knows how to drive a case forward.
Contact an Experienced Trucking Accident Attorney
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys have handled a multitude of 18-wheeler accidents over the past two decades and continue to handle many of the largest 18-wheeler accident cases throughout the United States. Whether the company is small or large, our success is not an accident; it is because we understand how trucking companies operate. We represent clients/victims all over the country.
Thomas J. Henry Injury Attorneys are available to respond to trucking accidents at any hour, day or night. Our lawyers understand that the immediate acquisition, or acquiring, of evidence is paramount to understanding how the accident occurred. Remember, your choice does matter. Contact our offices – we are available 24/7, nights and weekends.