What Happens When a Commercial Driver Hits You?
There are lots of sources out there offering legal help for people after a car accident, with many different options, depending on the nature of your injuries. This leads to the question, what about truck accidents? 333,000 large trucks were involved in crashes in 2011, the majority of them resulting from driver negligence. Much larger than the average commercial vehicle, there is potential for far more catastrophic injury. If you or a loved one have been affected by an accident, here are some of the things you should keep in mind.
Who’s At Fault?
It’s important to realize that federal and state laws establish standards that must be followed by all trucking companies and drivers. Ultimately, each state has its own department of transportation to regulate intrastate commercial trucking. If a trucker violated some of the laws that govern their conduct, they may ultimately be responsible legally to provide compensation. Each state has different regulations, but some of the common laws include:
Commercial Driver Licenses: If the driver involved in an accident with you didn't have the proper license, it can affect your legal case against them and the driver's employer.
Rest for the Driver: There are regulations on how long the operator of the commercial truck is permitted to drive without taking a break and resting is regulated, called the hours of service.
Maximum Weight Permitted: The maximum weight a truck can haul is determined by the size of the truck, and overloading a truck is dangerous. Don’t be surprised if figuring out what was in the truck in your accident and when it was last weighed are part of the investigation.
Quality Control of Trucks: Trucks or otherwise, commercial vehicles are regulated in both manufacturing and repairs to ensure quality control. If a defect in the truck or any component of the truck caused your accident, then you may have a claim against the manufacturer, supplier, or repairer of the truck.
Hazardous Waste: The Office of Hazardous Materials Safety (OHMS) develops safety regulations for transporting hazardous materials. If you are injured as a result of a trucker, you should consult with an attorney to learn how to pursue a claim against the truck driver, his or her employer, and the company shipping the hazardous material.
In addition to breaking the law, you may be able to prove fault by determining if the truck company itself was negligent for hiring a bad driver. This may include hiring a driving with past convictions for drunk driving or similar offenses, and ignoring this during a background check or not undergoing a background check.
What Legal Options Do I Have?
It’s important to determine what type of damages you seek to be compensated for as a result of your accident. Some of the injuries are obvious, like medical expenses, including ambulance fees, hospital visits, doctor visits, in-home care services, etc. What you may miss are factors like lost wages, pain and suffering, earning capacity and other potential damages.
The start of determining exactly what type of direction your case will take comes with a proper attorney. According to fasthelp.com, “an accident lawyer will not only need to explain your rights to you, but if there is a question of who is at fault, gather evidence.” This can include police reports, witness statements, doctor’s notes, and other resources. In addition, if the insurance company is offering a settlement, you will want an attorney’s advice in order to figure out whether or not the settlement being offered is fair compensation.