When an accident involving a commercial truck occurs, the attention is often placed on the people hit by the vehicle. However, the individuals driving the trucks are often injured in these incidents as well. Whether the drivers have any recourse to collect compensation for their injuries depends on the answer to a couple of questions.
Are You an Employee of the Trucking Company?
Your employment status with the trucking company has a big impact on whether you can sue for the damages and losses you sustained in the accident. That's because on-the-job injuries are typically covered by workers' compensation. Thus, you will be required to file your claim with the insurance company. Although workers' comp will pay your claim regardless of whether or not you were at fault for the accident, the trade-off is you will be barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit against your employer.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, if your employer engaged in fraud that contributed to the accident (e.g. doctored repair reports), you are allowed to take the company to civil court. Additionally, you can still go after third-parties who may have contributed to the incident (e.g. the brake manufacturer for putting out a defective product).
In most cases, though, truck drivers who are company employees will be required to go through workers' comp. It's still a good idea to get a truck accident lawyer to represent your interests, though, as sometimes workers' comp adjusters can be difficult to negotiate with.
Who is Liable for the Accident?
Another question that must be answered is who is the liable party in the accident. There's an unfair assumption that when big trucks get into accidents, the truck driver is at fault. This may be because incidents involving commercial trucks are often sensationalized.
In reality, the accident could've occurred for any number of reasons, such as reckless driving by another vehicle, road damage, or weather conditions. It would behoove you to take a close look at the situation and identify everything that could have contributed to the crash, because this may help you determine who is ultimately liable (and who to sue).
Even if you are partially responsible for the incident, you can still collect some compensation for your injuries if you live in a comparative negligence state. In these states, liability is assigned by a percentage and any financial award is adjusted accordingly. So even if you were found to be 40 percent liable for the accident, you would still be entitled to 60 percent of the cost of your damages.
There are other issues to look at when determining whether you have recourse to sue for your injuries in a truck accident. Contact an attorney for assistance.