Any kind of vehicular accident is probably going to be legally complicated, especially if you’re injured in that accident. Together with a lawyer, you’ll have to work with an insurance company, the other driver, and possibly another lawyer to hash out who’s responsible for what, how much of a settlement is owed, and other variables.
But truck accidents present another level of complexity. They tend to be much more complex than comparable car accidents – and they can present a major legal challenge.
Why is this the case, and what can you do about it?
Why Truck Accidents Are Complicated
These are just some of the reasons why truck accidents are so legally complex:
· Damage done. For starters, trucks tend to be much larger than traditional vehicles. While the average vehicle weighs only a few thousand pounds, trucks often weigh tens of thousands of pounds. Assuming they’re traveling at the same speed as a normal vehicle, they’re capable of much more destruction. Accordingly, truck accidents tend to result in more property damage, more injuries and more deaths. Thanks to that sheer destructive potential, truck accidents are automatically more complicated.
· Liability issues. Who’s responsible for the accident if the truck driver is found at fault? The intuitive answer is the truck driver, but that’s not always the case. In the trucking industry, truck drivers don’t always own the truck they’re driving and aren’t always individually liable for damages. While many truckers are owner-operators, some trucks are both owned and managed by a separate trucking company. This can make it hard to assign liability even when the truck driver is clearly the party at fault in the accident.
· The trucking company. Speaking of the trucking company, most trucking companies will be willing to fight long and hard to minimize costs and avoid reputational damage. The actions of the company may have made the accident more likely to occur, such as permitting the truck driver to work overly long hours – but they’ll still fight hard to avoid paying a major settlement.
· The insurance company. On top of that, insurance can be complicated. Depending on the situation, the trucker’s insurance company may be the one responsible for issuing the settlement, or it may be in the insurance company of the trucking company – or both. No matter what, insurance companies try to fight to reduce the size of the settlement and minimize the case, so it’s often an uphill battle for plaintiffs.
· Extra laws and regulations to consider. Traffic laws are understandably complex; in a given accident, it’s not always clear who’s at fault or why. But when you throw a truck into the mix, the laws get even more complicated. Trucking companies, trucking organizations, and both federal and state governments all work to create additional rules and regulations for truckers to follow – which can make it even harder to prove fault.
· Evidence and data collection. Many trucks come equipped with a kind of “black box” to record data, including velocity and the force of collision. But the data collected by these tools and others aren’t always clear. This can make it hard to prove your case.
Reducing the Complexity of Truck Accidents
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to reduce the legal complexity of a truck accident if you’re ever involved in one:
· Work with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your first step is to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Truck accident lawyers are well versed in the laws that apply to truckers, and they often have years of experience working with cases like yours. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with direction, insights, and advice you wouldn’t have on your own.
· Gather as much evidence as you can. Next, gather as much evidence as you can. Collect your own dash cam footage, take photos and videos of the accident, see if you can get surveillance footage, and even talk to eyewitnesses. The more objective data you have on your side, the better.
· Take things one step at a time. Truck accidents are complex, and if you plan on filing a lawsuit, they’ll also be prolonged and legally complicated. It’s important to try and take things one step at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself. Your lawyer can help you through this process as well.
Being involved in a truck accident can be devastating. If you’ve been injured or if a loved one has been killed in a truck accident, the last thing you want to think about is the legal complexity of the case in front of you. But acknowledging the possibilities, understanding the factors for complexity, and working proactively can all help you remain in control of the case.