Accidents involving 18-wheelers and other big-rig trucks are all-too-often catastrophic in their scope. Because of the sheer size and mass of these vehicles, the damage they cause is far greater than that of an accident between two cars. This also means that victims face a much greater chance of death and long-term or permanent disability than in other kinds of accidents.
If you are injured by a semi truck, you deserve to be compensated, but collecting can be difficult as there are so many different parties involved in the responsibility of the truck. Knowing against whom to file suit is vital to your success. Explore the options you have to seek compensation for the extensive damages caused by an accident when you’re hit by a semi truck, and who is at fault.
The Driver or the Company?
When the drivers of two automobiles are involved in an accident, usually one or the other (sometimes both) are directly responsible. When a truck is involved, however, the trucking company may share responsibility. According to a legal concept called respondeat superior, when an agency’s employee causes damage during work, the agency is responsible for that behavior.
That means if the trucker is an employee as opposed to an independent contractor, you may be able to sue the company for the accident. This can increase your potential for a larger settlement. If, however, the driver is an independent contractor and they own the vehicle they are driving, they can be solely responsible.
Other Responsible Parties
There are, however, other parties that can be responsible for the accident you’ve suffered. Consider the following:
- If the truck was poorly loaded, for example, causing the load to shift and the driver to lose control, the loading company could bear responsibility.
- If the trucker was driving with brakes that are badly worn because they are past due for changing, the maintenance crew responsible for upkeep could bear some blame.
- If the truck failed because a part was faulty from the get-go, you could have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the faulty part.
Playing the Blame Game
Part of what can make trucking accidents so difficult to pursue is that all of the potentially blameworthy parties may pass the buck between each other. The trucking company will deny responsibility for the driver’s actions (which often fails due to the way current laws are written). The loading company will put it back on the driver. The maintenance crew will say they did their job.
Hiring an Attorney when You’re Hit by a Semi Truck
When you’re hit by a semi truck, your best bet to get compensation is to sue the right people, and that means having qualified experienced and knowledgeable help. Hiring a qualified West Virginia attorney can be your best bet to accomplish that.
For decades the attorneys at the Bell Law firm have stepped up to defend the rights of our clients, and we’ve got a proven track record of success. If you’ve been in a trucking accident and need help seeking compensation in West Virginia, get in touch with us today.