Can I Sue Someone Personally After a Truck Accident?
Can I Personally Sue After a Truck Accident?
Because of their weight and size, severe consequences usually occur following a truck accident. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a total of 4,119 people died in large truck crashes in 2019. This number is 31 percent higher than it was just 10 years ago. Although there are many reasons why the number of truck accident fatalities is on the rise, the number one factor is negligence.
After you’ve been in a trucking accident, you may be faced with financial debt, property damage, medical issues, and even possible funeral expenses. One way to recoup your expenses is through a lawsuit. But is possible to sue someone personally after a truck accident?
No-Fault vs. Fault States: What is the Difference?
The answer to suing someone after a truck accident depends on what your insurance requirements are in the state. In a no-fault insurance state, such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the insurance company will pay for the injuries and property damage regardless of who is at fault. However, if the damages do exceed the maximum amount allowed by your policy, such as receiving a traumatic brain injury, you may be able to seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
For fault states, such as Ohio and Connecticut, the insurance company determines who was responsible for the accident and will then pay for the damage. This gives residents the ability to seek litigation against the responsible party for the truck accident, especially if that party does not have enough insurance to pay for the damages.
If you’re confused with what your state insurance laws are, it’s always best to consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to learn your legal options.
How Can I Establish Liability in a Truck Accident?
In order to establish liability, an experienced truck accident lawyer will need to investigate the accident and gather the proof needed to hold the right party at fault. This includes:
- Investigating the scene of the accident
- Speaking with witnesses
- Getting the police report
- Examining the truck driver’s logbook and the truck’s black box
Once this evidence is collected, a clear picture will emerge as to who is responsible for the accident. Unlike a car accident, where it may be either one or both drivers, there could be several parties responsible for the accident, such as:
The Truck Driver
In the case of a truck crash, several parties may be held responsible but first and foremost in the truck driver. They may have been breaking the law at the time of the accident, such as speeding or driving under the influence, or it could have been a mechanical issue problem. It could have been something as simple as looking down at their phone at the wrong time.
The Trucking Company
The trucking company may also be held liable. For example, if the truck company had overloaded the cargo in the trailer. As the tractor-trailer went around a corner, the load was not properly balanced and caused the truck to tip over. The fault would then lie in the company that packed the trailer.
The Truck Manufacturer
Sometimes a flaw in the mechanics caused the accident, such as shoddy brakes or engine issues. In this case, the manufacturer of the vehicle can be held liable for the accident. Unlike a personal vehicle, there are different manufacturing regulations that a truck manufacturer must follow. By not following these rules, the manufacturer could put people’s lives in jeopardy.
What Are My Next Steps If I Want to File a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Before filing a lawsuit, your first step is to file a claim with your insurance company. This will begin the investigation process. Once the insurance company determines who is responsible for the accident, they will offer you a settlement. As tempting as it may be to take it, don’t do it just yet. Remember, the insurance company will try to settle with the least amount possible.
Instead, you should be speaking with a truck accident attorney as soon as the claim is filed with your insurance. You don’t have to wait until its investigation is over.
What to Expect From a Truck Accident Settlement
Depending on the severity of your injuries and the strength of your claim, you will receive compensation that will cover the expenses, including but not limited to:
- Medical expenses such as hospital stays, rehabilitation, doctor visits, lab testing, and other healthcare costs you may be facing in the future.
- Lost income for the time you had spent out of work. This also includes any future wage losses you may experience due to your injuries.
- Funeral expenses if you had lost a loved one in the accident.
This is known as economic damages. You may also receive non-economic damages which are financial compensation for injuries that affected your quality of life. This could include:
- Pain and suffering, which stands for the physical discomfort and emotional distress you went through as a result of the accident.
- Mental anguish, which can impact your quality of life, such as grief, worry, and anxiety.
- Loss of consortium, such as the loss of companionship.
In rare cases, you may also receive punitive damages. This is financial compensation that’s meant to punish the responsible party or parties for their negligent behavior. This type of compensation can be difficult to prove and an act of “gross negligence or malice will need to be proven.
How a Truck Accident Attorney at Munley Law Can Help
When it comes to suing another party after a truck accident, you want to hire a skilled truck accident lawyer who understands truck accident litigation and can help guide you to getting the compensation that you deserve. At Munley Law, our trucking accident lawyers have been handled trucking claims for over 60 years. We have won millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for our accident clients and have been recognized by our peers as the leaders in truck accident litigation.
If you or a loved one was involved in a truck crash, don’t wait a single minute. Contact our offices today for a free consultation and find out what legal options are available to you. We have offices in Scranton, Wilkes-barre and many other locations.
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