Here's what to know if you're making a vehicle accident injury claim after an accident with a commercial truck or big rig:
Let's take a closer look at these points and more.
Truck operators, owners and manufacturers must follow a wide variety of state and federal regulations, including rules related to:
In any given traffic accident where a passenger vehicle driver is not at fault, one of the defendants on the truck owner/operator's side might have violated a statute, ordinance, or regulation aimed at safety.
This is important for traffic accident injury settlement purposes, because proof of violation of a statute or other regulation greatly increases an injured person's odds of winning in court. And the higher the odds of winning in court, the more willing a defendant is to settle before trial.
Another important aspect of state and federal regulation is the higher insurance requirements imposed on owners and operators of semi-trucks. For all practical purposes, a defendant in any kind of case will only be able to settle for an amount he or she can actually afford—or the maximum amount allowed by his or her insurance company (i.e. the policy limit).
The higher minimum policy limits of semi-truck insurance set by law mean that even if the driver or employer only carried the minimum amount, the plaintiff will not be stuck with a small settlement. This is often not the case with the minimum required insurance in "standard" car accident cases.
When multiple defendants are involved in a lawsuit, and depending on the facts, they may all be equally responsible for paying the plaintiff's damages, or they may only be responsible for the damages they caused.
For example, a fatigued driver may share partial responsibility for an accident with the manufacturer of faulty tires. The plaintiff will be able to sue the driver or the driver's employer as well as the manufacturer. If it is unclear just how much each defendant is at fault, the manufacturer could be required to pay more than its half of the damages if the driver doesn't have enough insurance and assets to pay his or her half.
A drawback of suing multiple defendants with unclear proportions of fault is that a settlement may be more difficult to obtain, and a trial more likely. It may be clear that the plaintiff was not at fault for the accident, but the defendants may prefer a trial to settlement because they cannot agree on their proportions of fault, and who owes what. It is also possible for a plaintiff to settle with one defendant and then sue the other defendants for the balance of the damages determined at trial.
Note: The following are examples of settlements where the defendant was at fault and the plaintiff suffered significant damages. Simply because an accident involves a semi-truck does not mean the driver or other party is automatically at fault and willing to offer a high settlement.
Having the right lawyer on your side can make a big difference if you decide to make an injury claim after an accident with a commercial truck or big rig. Financial recovery in these kinds of cases often includes:
An experienced lawyer will put your best case together and work toward the best outcome. Learn more about when to hire a car accident lawyer.