Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
The immediate aftermath of a truck accident is chaotic. Once you have sought medical attention and you are preparing to file an accident report, the first thing you need to do is determine who can be held liable for a truck accident.
This is not always the easiest process, which is why it is helpful to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer who can help you through the process of filing a claim.
How is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
There are many factors which are taken into consideration when establishing fault. Remember, Pennsylvania has specific truck regulations governing truckers which must be adhered to. These requirements include registration requirements, highways which are off-limits to truckers, and insurance requirements.
Delivery trucks must be operated by a driver who is trained, holds the proper licensing, and follows the rules of the road. However, these rules and regulations often are not followed, which can result in your being injured in an accident. When that happens, fault has to be determined. The process for determining who is at fault for a truck accident includes:
- Police accident reports
- The truck’s black box
- Witness statements
- Surveillance camera footage when available.
Having an experienced accident attorney available to perform this type of investigation can save you hours of work. Oftentimes, it is easier for an attorney to obtain this information than it is for an accident victim.
Establishing Fault Means Proving Certain Things
To establish that someone is liable for a truck accident, the person who is injured must prove certain things. These include:
- The person who caused the accident owed the injured party a duty of care.
- The person who caused the accident breached their duty of care.
- The injured party suffered losses because of the breach of the duty of care.
In determining liability, these factors may apply to the driver of the truck, their employer, the party who was responsible for loading the truck, the owner of the truck, the company or party responsible for maintaining the truck, or the company who manufactured the truck.
Each of these parties owes every driver on Pennsylvania roadways a duty of care. If they failed in their duty of care, this would be considered a breach, and they would be liable for the financial losses incurred by the victim of the truck accident.
How Financial Damages are Calculated Following a Truck Accident
Regardless of the size of the truck you were involved in an accident with, chances are you will suffer an injury. All injuries involve recovery time. Broken bones take from six to eight weeks to heal; head and neck injuries can take weeks or months of recovery time; and those who suffer more serious injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, may never recover from the injury suffered in a truck accident.
Victims of truck accidents may be able to obtain financial compensation for specific economic losses including:
- Medical bills — Any medical care a victim receives after being involved in a truck accident which pertains to their injury may be included in a claim. These specifically refer to out-of-pocket costs, including prescription drugs for pain, rehabilitation therapy, or other treatments not covered by the victim’s insurance.
- Lost wages — When you are out of work while recovering from an injury suffered in a truck accident, you are losing money. You may be receiving partial pay, but you may also be losing important benefits. Speak with your truck accident attorney about the possibility of including lost benefits and perks in your claim.
- Household expenses — There is a chance you are going to be unable to do some of your normal household tasks and will have to hire someone to do them for you. Because these expenses are the result of your injuries, you may be able to include them in your claim.
- Property damage — While Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” insurance state, your coverage may not cover all the financial costs of repairing or replacing your vehicle. These expenses should be the responsibility of the party who caused the accident.
Truck accident victims may also be eligible for non-compensatory damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other damages which you should speak with your truck accident attorney about.
Who Can be Responsible for a Truck Accident?
In determining responsibility, it is important to understand the role of each party as it pertains to liability for a truck accident. Here are some of the potential responsible parties and the roles they play:
- Truck driver — Drivers who are driving too fast for road conditions, driving under the influence, or who are otherwise behaving recklessly can be responsible for a truck accident.
- Truck driver’s employer — If an employer has not properly vetted or trained a truck driver, they may be partially responsible for the accident which resulted in your injury.
- Owner of the truck — In some cases, trucks have different owners than the driver or employer. If the truck was poorly maintained or had known defects the owner did not inform the driver about, then they may be responsible.
- Loader of vehicle — Unstable loads can result in an accident, which means every driver who is sharing the road with a truck can be put at risk. The company who is responsible for loading packages, freight, or any materials on the vehicle may be partially responsible for the accident.
- Other drivers on the road — Some accidents are the result of another driver on the roadway making a poor decision which results in an accident. Even when that driver was not directly involved in the accident, if they took any action which resulted in the accident they may be responsible.
Determining responsibility is crucial to being able to file an accurate claim for your injuries following any type of collision with a truck. Truck crashes often result in serious injury to another driver, or their passenger, so it is important to understand who is liable and how to hold them accountable. This is why you need to hire a truck accident injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident.
Insurance Company Problems Following a Truck Accident
Truck accident victims often think they can file their claim with the insurance company and be done with it. However, unless you have a lawyer representing you, you could get a lot less compensation than you might be entitled to collect.
Remember that insurance company adjusters are there to protect the insurer, and not you, the victim. Their goal is to minimize the amount of money the insurance company is required to pay out to victims.
Insurance companies will take every legal step possible to reduce the amount of your claim. They may question who is at fault for the accident. They may offer a quick settlement and tell you it is their best offer. They may also tell you that their customer is not the one at fault.
That is why it is best for victims of a truck accident in Pennsylvania to work with a skilled, aggressive, and knowledgeable attorney. When you have an attorney who has developed a reputation for fighting back against the tactics employed by an insurer, the company knows immediately that you are serious about getting compensated for your injuries.
There are some things you should never do before speaking with a Pennsylvania truck accident attorney including:
- Signing any documents — Always have paperwork that the insurer sends you reviewed by an attorney. You could be forfeiting your rights to seek compensation.
- Providing a recorded statement — Adjusters know how to ask the same question in multiple ways. They do this specifically to see if they can get you to contradict yourself.
- Accepting a fast settlement — Despite what the insurance company is telling you, their first offer is seldom their best or final offer. Remember, the insurer knows that if they can get you to sign an acceptance, they are off the hook for any additional losses you have suffered, even if they are not offering full compensation.
Always speak with an experienced lawyer before you speak with an insurance adjuster. This step will help protect your rights and make sure you are not taken advantage of.
Call Our Attorneys if You Suffered a Truck Accident Injury
Our Philadelphia truck accident attorneys have a proven track record of getting compensation for truck accident victims. When drivers make a mistake, or when someone other than you is responsible for an accident, you should not have to try to determine who can be held liable for a truck accident on your own.
Wapner Newman knows how the claims process works in Pennsylvania. We are also familiar with truck regulations at both the state and federal levels. Because your case is important to you, it is important to us. We know you need help through this process while you recover from your injuries, and we are here to offer that help. We will fight tirelessly to make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
Do not let another person’s careless behavior put you and your family in financial jeopardy. Contact Wapner Newman at (215) 569-0900 and let us put our team to work on your case today.