If you’re involved in a semi-truck accident and the driver appears to be at fault, you may be wondering who to sue. Do you sue the driver or the company? Maybe the manufacturer of the truck is to blame. In some cases, you may have to sue multiple parties. If one business owns the cab and another company owns the truck’s trailer, this can also lead to a dilemma.
To get to the crux of the problem, you need to speak to an Atlanta truck accident lawyer who is experienced in handling truck accident claims. You’ll need their advice for getting the compensation you’re owed for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. He or she can find out what happened and who caused the accident.
When the Driver Is at Fault
Even if there are contributing factors, driver error can still play a significant role in an 18-wheeler collision. If the driver acted negligently, you may have a case against the driver. However, remember this as well: drivers often are regarded as statutory employees. This means they may act as independent operators but are still treated as employees. Therefore, you may have a case against the trucking company.
Negligence by a driver can take the form of reckless driving, distracted driving, speeding, failing to use their turn signal, ignoring stoplights, or driving while intoxicated.
In addition, laws have been established that control how much time a truck driver can spend driving on the road. By speaking to a personal injury lawyer, he or she can find out if the driver spent too much driving and did not get sufficient rest.
When It Makes Sense to Sue the Company
Normally, a business is held responsible for the behavior of its employee – a legal concept known as vicarious liability.
In an effort to avoid liability, trucking companies began hiring drivers as independent operators rather than employees. They also began leasing trucks driven by independent contractors. To protect people from major injuries – injuries that frequently occur after a semi-truck accident, the U.S. Congress amended the 1956 Interstate Common Carrier Act.
Amending the law forced trucking companies to accept responsibility for the behavior of their independent contractors as well as the equipment they leased. The amended action also gave the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration the ability to enforce certain regulations in the trucking field.
Pursuant to these regulations, interstate motor carrier companies must accept a certain amount of control over the leased equipment used in the industry.
Therefore, a trucking company, under these guidelines, can be held accountable for a negligent driver’s behavior.
It does not matter if the company employs an employee directly or considers them to be an independent contractor; it is still held liable in cases of driver negligence.
If you’re involved in a wreck where the driver is an independent contractor but also leases a trucking company’s equipment, you may be able to sue the motor carrier.
Naturally, each truck accident is unique, so you need to discuss your case with a truck accident attorney – a legal advisor who can explore the situation more in-depth. Getting legal advice in these situations is paramount to determining which parties to sue and who to hold liable in a personal injury accident case.
Besides being held accountable for the behaviors of its drivers, a trucking company may also be faulted for improper training. In addition, they may be cited for failing to maintain a vehicle or for failing to establish reasonable standards with respect to travel time and breaks.
A lawyer can help you by finding out more about a company’s policies and securing its maintenance records to establish a valid claim.
Suing the Shipper or Loader
You may also be able to sue companies or individuals who loaded the semi-truck before the accident. The guilty party may be the shipper or a person who may have spilled contents or overloaded the trailer – either of which could lead to a rollover or an accident.
Product Liability Claims
If a giant truck fails to operate as it should, you may be able to sue the truck manufacturer or the business that produced and supplied one or more of the truck’s parts.
If a product defect, such as a steering column glitch or tire blowout, led to the incident, you can go after the manufacturer of the flawed part. Suing a company that sells defective parts can save other people from experiencing the same type of catastrophe in the future.
Schedule a Consultation with an Atlanta Truck Accident Lawyer Today
Needless to say, you need to discuss your personal injury big-truck claim with an experienced attorney – someone who understands what needs to be done to prove your case and win a settlement.
In Atlanta, contact the personal injury law firm of Slappey and Sadd, LLC, to schedule a consultation right away. Call 888-474-9616 today.