Can I Sue the Trucking Company if Their Driver Caused an Accident?May 15, 2023
When a serious truck accident occurs because of a truck driver’s negligence, the driver in the other vehicle is in a unique position. Besides the strong possibility of having catastrophic injuries, they might be in a position to sue the trucking company. When these cases are successful, the damages awarded can be significant.
How Do Commercial Truck Accidents Happen?
One of the main causes of catastrophic truck accidents is the sheer size of these vehicles. It makes it harder for them to stop since they need more time to slow down. If the front cab stops too quickly, the tractor in the back could whip around to the side and cause a jackknife accident. In addition to that, the trailer could roll over. It is also harder for these trucks to turn, and when other vehicles are too close, the trucks can collide with them.
Much of this relates to blind spots. Truck drivers have less visibility than smaller vehicles, so if they cannot see other drivers, they might hit them unintentionally. That is why it is so important to give them plenty of room and to pass carefully.
Truck driver fatigue is another cause of truck accidents since the shifts are longer than a typical workday. Drivers might also exceed the legal driving time or work consecutive days when that is not allowed. This is done in order to meet deadlines and earn more money. Other reasons for truck crashes include poor weather conditions, inexperienced drivers, and improperly loaded cargo.
What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?
It is unlikely that a truck accident survivor would only experience minor injuries. Many times, they are rushed to the emergency room and face procedures, surgeries, and a long recovery time. Some of the most common truck accident injuries include:
- Brain damage.
- Bruises, burns, lacerations.
- Head, neck, and spinal cord injuries.
- Internal organ damage.
These injuries can change people’s lives forever. Many spend weeks or months in the hospital and cannot return to work temporarily or permanently. If they become disabled, they might need to use a prosthetic or wheelchair. Besides limiting their ability to work, these individuals might not be able to exercise, enjoy hobbies, participate in other daily activities, or take care of themselves.
A traumatic truck accident can also cause mental scars, like PTSD. The financial costs of caring for physical and mental injuries can be overwhelming.
Should I Sue the Truck Driver or the Trucking Company?
The answer to that question is not always clear since there can be multiple liable parties. Many truckers are owner-operators, so in addition to driving, they own the vehicles. In these cases, it is possible to sue the driver, but there might not be an employer in the picture.
When a driver is an employee, things can get more complicated. Maryland state law allows truck accident survivors to file personal injury lawsuits against negligent drivers. As defendants, truckers might not have the funds to cover the alleged damages. When that is the case, a plaintiff may have the option of filing suit against the employer, which is most likely a trucking company.
Maryland law also permits employers to be held responsible for their employees’ actions, such as reckless driving. A truck driver must have been acting within the scope of their employment when they caused the crash, though. So, if a truck driver was driving a personal vehicle and caused an accident, the claimant would not be able to sue that person’s employer.
What if There Are Other Liable Parties?
Besides the truck driver and employer, a plaintiff might decide to file suit against a cargo supplier, maintenance vendor, and a vehicle or parts manufacturer. Truck accident lawyers research every possible angle to see where the responsibility lies. For example, a cargo company might have overloaded the truck or failed to secure the items properly. An improperly balanced truck is much harder to drive, and loose cargo can shift around or fall off the vehicle.
Maintenance vendors keep commercial vehicles in good working condition, but sometimes they cut corners or make errors. Failing to change an old tire could lead to a blowout accident, so lawyers know to check maintenance orders and ensure that the work was actually performed. It is also common for trucks to miss regular inspections where problems can be noted and addressed. Finally, manufacturers of trucks and parts can produce defective products. Sometimes, they fail to issue a recall.
Insurance for a Truck Accident
Commercial vehicles carry larger insurance policies than smaller passenger vehicles, and the requirements for 18-wheelers are typically much higher. This makes sense since the damages from accidents can be much more severe. Since most truck drivers do not own their vehicles, the trucking company owner is usually responsible for obtaining insurance.
Insurance policy regulations dictate how interstate trucks operate, and that means more paperwork. As a result, trucking companies often have several overlapping policies that apply to different parts of the business. There could be one for the driver, cargo, and vehicle, plus more.
The minimum liability coverage for 18-wheelers is a federal matter since these trucks travel over state lines. The amounts depend on the gross vehicle weight rating and what is being transported.
What Can I Expect From a Truck Accident Settlement?
Every truck accident settlement is different, and when insurers and claimants cannot agree on a number, these claims might end up in court. Bear in mind that Maryland has no cap on the amount awarded for economic damages, like current and future medical care and lost wages.
As a guideline, the median jury award in Maryland for tractor-trailer accident cases is $90,000, but others are closer to $500,000. A small percentage, about three percent, are worth more than $5,000,000. High-value cases like the latter generally involve accident survivors who were earning high salaries and were unable to work.
Contact a Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton if You Have Been Injured in a Truck Crash
Determining who is at fault for a truck accident is often a complicated matter, but an experienced Baltimore truck accident lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton can help determine liability. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529).
We have offices in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Lanham, and Owings Mills, allowing us to represent clients in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.