When a giant commercial truck collides with a passenger car, the resulting damage usually affects the smaller vehicle. Often, this significant size discrepancy between the two vehicles also means that the occupants of the smaller car are at risk for serious injuries.
Many truckers become injured in truck accidents with smaller cars, but the passengers of the smaller vehicle are much more likely to suffer substantial consequences. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), in 2017, accidents that involved large trucks resulted in 4,102 fatalities. The survey found that just 17 percent of those deaths were truck occupants, while 68 percent of the lives lost were people inside the smaller vehicles. Additionally, 14 percent of the deaths calculated were bicyclists, motorcyclists, or pedestrians.
If a driver is in an accident, a driver’s first instinct might be to blame the other driver. If injuries or property damage result, a motorist may go after the driver’s auto insurance to cover losses suffered. When the other vehicle in a traffic accident is a commercial truck, the equation becomes somewhat more complicated. Whether or not the other driver may be at fault for the accident, there may be other avenues for a driver to explore when it comes to collecting compensation from liable parties.
There are numerous parties who may be held liable for damages caused by truck accidents. Due to the risks associated with big rigs, the trucking industry is subject to adhere to strict regulations. When an accident can be traced back to the actions of one or more persons, those responsible parties may be held liable for the accident.
Mistakes or reckless drivers are often the direct cause of all types of traffic accidents. When the offending driver is behind the wheel of a gigantic truck, the results of human error or deliberate disregard for traffic norms can be catastrophic. Truck drivers are required to be licensed and trained to handle their vehicles safely. In addition to general driving rules, like following speed limits and traffic laws, truck drivers are subject to industry-specific standards, such as observance of rules regarding hours of service, which regulate how long a driver may drive continuously without a break. Driving behaviors, like distracted driving or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, are also likely to be found as reasons to hold the truck driver liable for an accident.
Employers can be held legally liable for the actions of their employees if those actions are performed within the scope of employees’ job duties. In other words, the negligent actions of employees could be the legal responsibility of the trucking company. However, the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor is not always clear.
A trucking company that considers its drivers independent contractors may actually be exercising control over the drivers, which effectively proves an employer-employee relationship exists. If this relationship can be proven, it can be beneficial for the injured party to pursue a legal course of action against the trucking company. A company is more likely to have the resources available to cover the demands of the owed compensation.
If an investigation into the accident determines that the cargo being shipped in the truck was improperly loaded, the shipping company may be held liable for the accident. An uneven load or a load too heavy for the truck may cause the truck to tip over while transporting the shipment of goods.
Additionally, the person or company hired to perform maintenance on the truck may be found responsible for the crash, if the accident investigation shows that poor upkeep on the truck was to blame for the collision.
Truck manufacturers may be found liable for design flaws. A parts manufacturer may be responsible for defects in specific component of trucks, such as brakes, brake lines, steering systems, and tires.
In some cases, a trucking company operates fleets of other companies. The company that rents or leases their trucks may be held accountable if an accident is caused by their mismanagement.
Delaware is considered a no-fault state when it comes to insurance claims. In a typical accident involving two cars, this allows both drivers to claim auto insurance payouts to cover expenses incurred in an accident. There are many complicating factors when it comes to accidents with commercial trucks, but auto insurance may play a role. Many of the liable parties may carry insurance for their businesses. If one can prove that the other driver was at fault, then one may be able to seek compensation from insurance.
No-fault insurance in Delaware includes coverage through a driver’s own insurance for physical injuries, which is called personal injury protection (PIP). However, the PIP program only covers two years of expenses resulting from an auto accident.
One may be able to make the case that one’s injuries require the insurance company to pay more, such as when an accident causes extensive injuries or a disability. An insurance claims adjuster may make it difficult to collect on a claim. A claims adjuster may require one to go through a doctor’s medical evaluation or try to disavow a claim in other ways. If an insurance company is giving a victim a hard time, it is advisable to contact a lawyer right away.
A truck accident can result in life-long trauma. Negligent truckers, truck companies, and truck manufactures must be held accountable for their dangerous actions. If you were hurt in a truck accident, you may be able to collect damages for your accident. Our Delaware truck accident lawyers at Jacobs & Crumplar, P.A. help truck accident victims collect compensation. Contact us online or call us at 302-656-5445 for a free consultation. Located in Wilmington and Millsboro, Delaware, we represent clients throughout Dover, New Castle County, and Sussex County.