Sharing the road with an 18-wheeler or semi-truck can be an intimidating experience, to say the least. Not only are these vehicles massive, but they also possess significant power and weight—far more than the average vehicle.
As such, it should come as no surprise that when regular drivers are involved in crashes with these kinds of vehicles, the damages can be severe. If you were involved in an accident like this, you might be wondering how to move forward managing the physical and financial damages sustained. Your first step is to review the available truck accident attorneys in your area. Once you’ve found a lawyer you feel comfortable with, you can move forward filing a claim against the liable party—this will provide you with the compensation needed to focus on your recovery.
But this brings up an important question: Who is the liable party in an accident like this? The following guide sheds some light on this subject to help you prepare for the legal proceedings ahead.
Who Should You Seek Damages from After an Accident with an 18-Wheeler or Semi-Truck?
Don’t Assume the Trucker Is to Blame
When you get into an accident with another driver, the process is relatively straightforward. You contact the police, who determines the liable party. Then, the victime files a claim against that person’s insurance company seeking compensation for their damages.
When you’re dealing with 18-wheelers or semi-trucks, though, the process is not nearly as simple. Unlike a regular car crash, there are multiple parties that could potentially be considered responsible when the collision involves a commercial truck. Every case is different, and it all depends on the unique factors pertaining to your accident.
For example, you might think it makes the most sense to file a claim against the person who was driving the truck at the time of your crash. However, it’s actually incredibly rare that the trucker themselves will actually be held liable. This is because they were operating as an employee at the time of the crash, which almost always means they will be protected by their employer’s insurance policy.
There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule; for example, if the trucker was technically not working (or “off the clock”) at the time of the crash, or if they were engaging in behaviors that would make them exempt for insurance coverage, such as driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal substances. However, as stated, these circumstances are incredibly rare.
Figuring Out Who to File Against: Employer, Owner, or Manufacturer
Unfortunately, all of this doesn’t necessarily mean you can go straight to the employer as the liable party. It is possible that they could be identified as the responsible party. But there are certain circumstances that could excuse them from that liability. For example, if the employer doesn’t own the truck, your attorney might have to go over the owner instead.
There’s also the potential for defective products to factor into your case. For example, if the accident was caused by the trucker’s tires suddenly exploding without cause, or the brakes giving out unexpectedly, neither the employer nor the owner would be deemed responsible. In this case, the manufacturer of the defective part would hold the blame, making them the party you would file your claim against.
Leave It to Your Attorney
As you can see, determining liability in a commercial trucking accident is highly complex. If you don’t file against the right party, the chances of recovering compensation for your damages are, unfortunately, slim. Rather than trying to handle it on your own, allow an attorney to make the designation for you.