Is It Possible to Sue Somebody Personally Following a Truck Accident?
If you are ever injured in a truck accident, it is important to realize that you will be going up against 2 separate entities: the truck driver and the company that he/she works for. It is one of the key reasons why suing somebody personally after a truck accident is usually more complex than suing a non-commercial driver. However, it is worth noting that while suing is always a viable legal option, there are other ways of seeking compensation out-of-court. The information provided here should help you learn more about the legal options available to you, but contacting an experienced Houston truck accident attorney is the most effective way to ensure that all your concerns and questions are addressed.
How to Determine Liability in a Truck Accident
You should first determine who is the at-fault party in the accident before suing anybody in a truck accident case. The negligent party who’s responsible for the accident that caused the injury is also responsible for damages.
The at-fault party in regular car accidents is usually one of the drivers, but truck accident cases tend to be more complicated than that. In commercial truck accidents, multiple parties can be held liable, including:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company that the driver works for (if they were negligent in hiring)
- The maintenance company (if they didn’t address a maintenance issue)
- Relevant cargo company (if they didn’t load the cargo properly)
- The vehicle or parts manufacturer (if the accident was caused by a defective component)
- Another motorist that was involved in the accident
As you can see, there are numerous parties involved when it comes to ensuring that a large commercial truck is safe to be driving on public roads. One party may bear full liability in some instances, while multiple parties may be to blame in others.
Considering that several parties may have been negligent in your accident, you and your truck accident attorney will need to investigate the specific circumstances of your case thoroughly. That involves things such as checking the truck driver logs, camera footage from the truck, truck maintenance logs, cargo records, employee records, witness statements, drug test results, and so on.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Vs. Filing a Lawsuit
Once you have established which party is at-fault for the accident, it is now time to start thinking about the best course of legal action to take. The first step is usually to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Most personal injury cases are completed during the claim process.
Once you file the insurance claim, the insurance provider will respond. They can either accept the claim, make a counteroffer, or deny the claim. Often, they will give a lowball settlement offer. A hefty sum of money can be incredibly enticing, but you should never accept that first offer.
If you receive a lowball settlement offer, your lawyer will negotiate for a more favorable offer. If the negotiations were successful, you’ll accept the agreed-upon settlement before receiving your compensation. Most personal injury cases end up settling, but there are times when you’ll have to pursue a lawsuit.
When Are You Allowed to Sue Somebody Personally After a Truck Accident?
If an agreement cannot be reached during negotiations or if the insurance provider outright denies the claim, then you should consider filing a lawsuit. Considering that a lawsuit is both lengthy and costly, this is not a decision that you should rush into without proper consideration. You’ll have to weigh both the pros and cons of filing a lawsuit with a professional Houston truck accident attorney.
Suing the Truck Driver
While you can file a lawsuit against the trucking company or any other negligent party, it is also possible to file a lawsuit against the truck driver personally. You may need to sue both the truck driver and the trucking company they work for or any other at-fault party depending on the circumstances of the accident.
If the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, then that company can be held responsible for the truck driver’s actions while operating on-the-clock. With that in mind, there are instances where it makes a lot of sense to sue the driver directly, such as the driver violating trucking regulations or behaving maliciously when the accident happened.
If the truck driver is an independent contractor, he/she will usually have fewer assets, and you might have a difficult time securing the compensation that you deserve. You should discuss whether it is best to personally sue the driver following the accident with your truck accident lawyer.
Suing Another Driver Personally
If it is established that another driver was to blame for the accident and not the driver of the truck, you can file a lawsuit against that driver. It might be uncommon, but it can happen. However, you will have to file a personal injury claim with that driver’s insurance company first to reach a settlement.
Pursuing Compensation for Partial Fault After a Truck Accident
If multiple parties are to blame for the truck accident, each of the parties will be liable for a percentage of the fault they hold. In Texas, if you are partially responsible for the accident, it is still possible to pursue compensation as long as you were less than 50 percent at fault.
If you were less than 50 percent at-fault, the total recoverable damages will be reduced in accordance with the percentage of fault. For example, if you are eligible for $10,000 but are 20% at fault, you will only receive $8,000. This is referred to as modified comparative negligence, and many states follow this rule. It is particularly significant in accidents that involve large commercial trucks where multiple parties can bear some level of responsibility for the accident.
It is important to note that not all states follow the same negligence laws. California, for example, uses pure comparative negligence. This allows injured parties to be eligible for damages even if they are 99% at fault. However, compensation will still be reduced according to the percentage of fault. To make sure you are eligible for compensation after a truck accident, speak with a local attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state.
Contact a Houston Truck Accident Attorney for Your Free Consultation Today
If you have concerns or questions regarding who to sue or even where to seek legal action in your truck accident case, contact McDonald Worley today. We’ll review the specifics of your case and your legal options to make sure that you can receive the compensation you are entitled to.