If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, there may be a number of individuals or entities that you could sue to recover damages caused by the accident. A skilled personal injury attorney can help you evaluate the specific details of your case, including potential defendants that may be named in a lawsuit to recover damages.
The obvious party you might first think of when considering who may be at fault for your injuries is the driver of the truck. Truck drivers are subject to stringent laws that govern their use of their vehicles. Those laws require adequate training, health screenings, and place restrictions on the number of hours a driver can travel in certain time periods. If the driver is not in compliance with any of those laws, it may add to any obvious liability issues such as failure to obey traffic laws, distracted driving, or driving under the influence. So, the obvious choice in a lawsuit is the driver himself or herself. However, the driver is not the only potential defendant in a trucking accident, and sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the driver is not even the best defendant.
Just because the driver was operating the truck does not mean the driver owns the truck. While sometimes truck drivers are owner-operators, often another individual or entity owns the truck and merely hires the driver as an employee. In this situation, the owner of the vehicle likely has insurance covering the truck and that will reimburse parties injured by the operation of that vehicle. Additionally, oftentimes the owner entity is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle, so if there are any maintenance-related issues that led to the accident, it may be an additional source of liability for the owning entity.
Outside the mere ownership of the vehicle, if the ownership entity, such as a trucking company, failed to supervise the driver properly or failed to adequately vet the driver before hiring, there are additional liability questions that may arise. As noted above, the trucking industry places strict regulations on drivers related to training, their health, and their number of hours behind the wheel. If a trucking company is allowing the driver to operate the vehicle when the driver is not following each of those laws, they have contributed to the accident by allowing the driver on the road in the first place. Additionally, if there are reasons the driver should never have been hired, such as a poor driving record or history of driving related crimes, the company may have negligently hired the driver and opened themselves to still more points of weakness in a lawsuit brought by your or your loved ones injured in a vehicle accident.
Sometimes other individuals or entities that are not related to the truck or the trucking company in any way may be a potential defendant in a lawsuit related to the injuries from the accident. An experienced attorney should evaluate your case to determine whether other drivers, pedestrians, or other factors weighed into the cause of the accident. If so, there may be more potential defendants to be named in a lawsuit to recover damages to compensate for the injuries sustained by you or your loved ones in the trucking accident. It is very important you allow an experienced personal injury attorney to assist you with evaluating and pursuing your case so that all appropriate defendants are named. You do not want to leave money sitting on the table that you rightfully may have collected to help make you or your loved ones whole.