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Who is legally responsible for a commercial truck crash?

| Jul 31, 2020 | Accident And Injury Law

When a big commercial truck crashes into a smaller passenger vehicle, the person in the smaller vehicle will likely have to deal with catastrophic levels of property damage and possibly severe injury. Serious injuries can mean lost wages and increased household expenses, to say nothing of the thousands of dollars worth of medical care they might necessitate.

As you come to terms with your injuries and the impact they have on your life, you may find yourself looking at your options for compensation related to the commercial truck crash. Depending on the circumstances, there may be multiple different avenues through which you can seek compensation.

Commercial vehicle insurance policies offer more protection

When it is clear that the commercial vehicle is the one that caused the crash, the liability policy held by the truck driver, if they are an owner-operator, or the trucking company, if the driver is an employee, will likely cover a significant portion of your costs.

These policies typically have hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of coverage because of the damage big trucks can do, as compared to tens of thousands of dollars of coverage for personal motor vehicles. However, especially if injuries will prevent someone from going back to work, a lawsuit may be necessary to fully recover your financial losses.

You may need to bring a claim against the driver involved

Although truck drivers have more training and get held to higher standards than other drivers, they can still make mistakes at the wheel. Whether the truck driver in question was under the influence, distracted or asleep at the wheel, you may have the option of bringing a civil lawsuit against them to recover financial losses beyond what insurance will pay.

Sometimes, a business is liable for the crash

Although driver mistakes are arguably the top cause of commercial vehicle collisions caused by the bigger vehicle, there are circumstances in which the truck driver isn’t directly responsible for the crash. If their employer has not performed adequate maintenance on the vehicle, for example, the company might be partially responsible. About 10% of commercial vehicle crashes are because of an issue with the truck.

The same could be true if the company’s rules or culture cause the driver to behave in an unsafe manner. Finally, it’s possible that the company that paid for transportation services has legal responsibility for the crash because improper loading at their warehouse or shipping dock caused a truck rollover.

Looking carefully at the factors that contributed to the crash can give you a better idea of what options you have for compensation.