Truck Accident FAQ
If you have questions, we're here to help
Being involved in a truck accident can be a very traumatic experience. If you've been injured, you're often faced with a long recovery process, time away from work and perhaps even a difficult legal battle over compensation. It can be tough to know where to turn next.
- I was hit by a truck, and it wasn't my fault. Who is liable for the accident?
- How can an attorney prove that the trucking company was negligent?
- The trucker who hit me was asleep at the wheel. Can an attorney help?
- What are some other ways you can prove the trucker was responsible?
- Should I answer questions from the trucking company?
- Should I accept a settlement offer from the trucking company?
In the aftermath of a truck accident, this information should give you a general idea of how to proceed. For help with your specific case, contact the Law Offices of James Morris for a free consultation. Call us at (800) 477-9044.
Liability for trucking accidents is somewhat complex and involves multiple areas of law. Truckers, of course, have at least as much responsibility to drive safely as anyone else on the road, and they can cause accidents due to their own negligent behavior. The trucker who hit you may have been asleep at the wheel, texting while driving or even driving drunk.
Whether the trucking company is liable for the trucker's actions depends on their relationship. If the trucker is a direct employee of the trucking company, the company can be held liable based on the principle of respondeat superior. If the trucker is an independent contractor, this principle may or may not apply, depending on the quantity of supervision exercised.
The trucking company may also be liable if we can prove that their own negligence contributed to the accident. For instance, you may have a liability claim if the trucking company overloaded the trailer or put pressure on the trucker to drive at an unsafe speed. The trucking company may also be held liable for improper training or inadequately maintaining the truck.
Finally, in certain cases, you may have a product liability claim against the shipper of the cargo. For instance, if you were injured by hazardous materials during the accident and the shipper of those materials failed to adequately warn the trucker or trucking company of the danger, the shipper can be held liable for injuries resulting from their failure to inform.
As you can see, the question of liability for a truck accident can be tricky to answer. That's one of the reasons why you need an experienced attorney from our firm to investigate the details of your case.
Commercial trucking companies are bound by extensive regulations regarding licensing, vehicle types and cargo. Our attorneys will determine if the driver and vehicle were suited to be on the road. This may involve a review of hiring practices, background checks, vehicle maintenance records and driver history. We'll also search for evidence of any unethical practices on the part of the trucking company, such as pressuring the trucker to drive at an unsafe speed or work through mandatory break times in order to make a delivery faster. Finally, the trucking company may be responsible for an improperly maintained or overloaded truck.
Yes. But such cases often involve a tremendous amount of work. In order to prove that the trucker was asleep at the wheel, we often look at the physical evidence surrounding the accident. Asleep-at-the-wheel drivers rarely hit the brakes before impact, meaning there will be no skid marks. Additionally, we'll comb through records to see whether the trucker was taking breaks as mandated by law or skipping them and driving exhausted.
Distracted driving, such as texting and driving, is a major cause of truck accidents. Distracted truckers often cause devastating rear-end collisions, so we'll look at eyewitness reports and other corroborating evidence to prove that the trucker was distracted. Our attorneys will also look for evidence that the trucker may have been driving recklessly - speeding, for instance, or failing to signal - as well as any indication that he or she was behind schedule, which could contribute to that recklessness.
Absolutely not. The trucking company and their insurance provider will be looking to reduce their own liability, and any information they get from you will be used for that purpose. Don't answer their questions, and don't give them any medical information. Instead, call our law firm to get an attorney on your side, then direct any requests for information to your lawyer.
It's standard procedure for the trucking company or their insurance to offer accident victims a "lowball" settlement soon after an accident, before the true cost may be fully apparent. Accepting such a settlement deprives you of your right to sue for more damages (financial compensation) later, which may leave you stuck with bills that exceed that initial offer. Don't accept any settlement offer until you've carefully reviewed your offer with us. In many cases, the amount the trucking company offers at first is much less than what they're willing to pay to keep the case from going before a jury.