Who is Responsible for My Medical Bills after a Truck Accident
Truck driving is notorious for posing a lot of danger for the truckers and the drivers around them. It already takes a lot of practice and concentration to drive a passenger car, imagine how much effort it takes to control an 80,000-pound vehicle.
Of course, with such difficulty, it’s no surprise that truckers often make small mishaps. But even with a minor mistake in a large vehicle can cause severe damages and injuries.
Victims involved in truck accidents often walk away with severe and life-changing injuries. This leaves them and their families wondering how to get the money needed to pay for the medical bills that will inevitably accumulate.
While you should not be responsible for paying your medical bills because of someone else’s negligence, truck collision cases can be complicated.
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Responsible Parties in a Truck Accident
Any car crash that involves a commercial truck can be a bit more complicated compared to a typical car accident. Car accidents can typically be narrowed down to some combination of driver error, vehicle malfunction, or road conditions.
However, accidents with large commercial trucks can have many other contributing factors and involve other people and entities that are unique to the trucking industry. These include the following.
The Truck Driver
As the ones directly involved in the accident, the truck drivers are the most obvious choice to hold liable. Many truck accidents that end with catastrophic injuries are caused by drivers who are negligent and participate in dangerous driving behaviors. There are numerous reasons why a truck driver may drive negligently and cause an accident that leads to catastrophic injuries.
· Impaired Driving
· Hours of Service Violations
· Distractive Driving
· Aggressive Driving
· Driving After Taking Sleep Aids
· Overloaded Trucks
The Trucking Company
Even if the truck driver was responsible for the accident, the trucking company that employs the driver could still be held legally accountable for their actions and the damages that result.
The main reason that trucking companies are held responsible for these accidents is because of a profit-over-safety work environment.
Sometimes, trucking companies might establish unrealistic schedules to transport goods. This violates laws regulating the number of hours employees can work before taking a break.
As a result, drivers become too exhausted and fail to practice proper driving habits.
Trucking companies are also expected to examine the truck drivers properly that they’re hiring. They’re responsible for determining if their drivers are qualified and fit for the job by conducting background checks and random screening for alcohol and/or drug abuse.
Additionally, the trucking company has other responsibilities, including providing their drivers with adequate training. A trucker without enough knowledge regarding proper truck maneuvers, handling the load, and driving in inclement weather increases the risk of causing an accident.
Cargo or Loading Company
In some cases, accidents occur when the loading company did not load the cargo properly, causing it to be overweight or unevenly distributed, which can cause the truck to tip over.
Some companies may improperly secure drop boxes and equipment on the road or another vehicle, which could cause tremendous injuries. This can lead to boxes and equipment falling off the truck and creating hazards on the road.
In these situations, the loading company is liable and often responsible for paying damages to the victim(s).
Related article: How Weigh Stations Keep Drivers Safe.
In other situations, a defective truck or specific components of it are the cause of the accident. It may be a slight problem in the tires, engine, or brakes, which causes it to malfunction and make the driver lose control.
This could mean holding the manufacturer of the truck or its parts responsible for the damages the accident caused.
Who Will Pay for My Medical Bills?
In any truck accident case, most victims aim for compensation for their injuries.
While you may want to go after the actual person who was physically responsible for your accident, truckers may not have sufficient insurance coverage to give you full compensation. If you have any hope of receiving monetary compensation, you will be better off seeking relief from the employer.
Keep in mind that the trucking company’s insurance company will fight to deny or reduce your claim, especially when your injuries may be more severe as the value of your claim could be even higher.
As mentioned earlier, trucking companies are generally responsible for their own negligent actions. However, another way to hold them accountable for your accident is through the theory of vicarious liability.
Vicarious liability is a form of secondary liability that holds the employer liable for the actions of its employees as long as it can be proven that it took place in the course of their employment.
This means that the company is responsible for the trucker’s actions when he is acting within the scope of his employment. Courts often look at the following guidelines to determine whether the truck driver was within the scope of their employment at the time of the accident.
· The actions of the truck driver benefit the company in some way
· The truck driver was doing work within the employment agreement
· The specific intent of the driver is to harm the victim
· The truck driver drives his truck on personal time
There are a few exceptions when a trucking company would not be vicariously liable for compensating you when a negligent trucker causes your injuries. Many truck companies try to avoid liability by hiring independent contractors or misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
They are also not liable if the trucker was not performing duties within the scope of his employment when the crash occurred. This means that the trucking company would not be responsible if the crash happened while the truck driver wasn’t doing their job.
An experienced Truck Accident Injury Attorney from The Brown firm will anticipate this issue and plan for when it arises in court. Contact us at (912) 324-2592 for a Free Consultation to discuss the nature of your case or click the link below.
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