Who’s to blame when you’re injured in a truck accident? Determining fault is just one more way truck accidents differ from car accidents.
Most of the time, when a car accident occurs in Miami, each party involved assumes fault for their own injuries. Their respective personal injury protection (PIP) insurance companies will handle the claim and determine what kind of compensation they receive. Things get a little more complicated when it comes to accidents involving trucks.
Truck Accidents Are More Complex – Get Help
Large commercial trucks cause catastrophic wrecks and the corresponding damage tends to be more significant. This means the accident victim may be able to meet Florida’s “serious injury” threshold in order to file with the carrier’s commercial liability insurance.
Depending on the specific circumstances of the wreck, several different parties may be liable for a single personal injury claim. This can make for a very complicated filing process. Accident victims may need to investigate in order to prove fault for each responsible party.
It’s important to know as much as possible about your legal options after a truck accident. Assessing your full medical condition, estimating your total losses, and filing a quick claim can all increase your ability to successfully claim compensation. An experienced Miami truck accident lawyer can work with you and negotiate with various insurers on your behalf.
Call (800) 801-6850 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review. You can speak with an experienced Miami truck accident lawyer about your options for filing a claim.
While exploring your ability to file liability insurance, your truck accident attorney may point towards any of the following parties.
The Truck Driver
You may think that the obvious first candidate to be held liable in a trucking accident would be the truck driver. However, determining liability isn’t always as simple as it seems. The first step is determining the exact relationship between the driver and the trucking company. There are three different main types of truck drivers:
- Private Carriers (Leasing Owner-Operators): These people own their trucks and are independent contractors or lease their trucks to trucking companies. They could be driving for several trucking companies at a time.
- Company drivers: These are employees hired by trucking companies to drive the company’s trucks.
- Independent owner-operators: These are independent contractor (IC) drivers that haul their own goods and own the truck that they operate.
If you are involved in an accident with a semi truck, it’s important that you find out which of these categories the truck driver falls into. Depending on the answer to that question, several different parties could be held liable.
The individual driver may be one of the liable parties if they are an owner-operator and were negligent. If the driver was speeding, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted, or drowsy, the truck driver would be the at-fault party in the accident. In some Miami truck accident cases, the driver is the only one at fault in the accident.
The Trucking Company
There are cases in which the fault cannot be laid entirely upon the truck driver. The doctrine of “respondeat superior” requires that employers answer for the negligent actions of their employees.
Trucking companies may also be held responsible for accidents involving independent owner-operators when the accident was caused by their own rules violations or lapses in safety measures. It may be true that the independent contractor driver fell asleep at the wheel and collided with your vehicle. However, if it happened because the company required them to drive long hours without reprieve, the company may be the party at fault.
Proving liability for a trucking company is complicated, so let an attorney navigate the legal proceedings. For example, a truck accident attorney will know how to procure evidence that the trucking company was cutting corners with safety checks or put unrealistic expectations on the driver.
The Truck Owner
The owner of the truck may be partially at fault in a truck accident, which includes the owners of a fleet vehicle leased for use on the haul in question.
If, for example, the owner is the one responsible for inspecting the truck as well as providing routine maintenance and repairs, any accident caused by a malfunction of the truck could be the owner’s fault. Federal regulations govern regular truck maintenance, so an owner who doesn’t follow these guidelines would be held liable for an accident.
Other Responsible Parties
There are cases in which other parties can be held liable for a truck accident claim. Cargo loaders who do not properly inspect the cargo before a trip may be held responsible if a box falls and damages the truck or injures someone. Any safety regulation a loader fails to follow – like weight distribution of the cargo, for example – could be enough to prove liability.
Similarly, if the truck manufacturer produces defective parts that cause a tire blowout or some other malfunction, they could be held liable. The most common product liability claims include issues with brake failure, defective trailer hitches, steering problems, load straps, coupling systems, tires, locks, and hydraulics. If the trucking company complies with routine maintenance procedures and couldn’t have prevented the product malfunction, the manufacturer will be held liable.
Maintenance companies that fail to uphold professional standards may also be liable if their neglect later led to a catastrophic breakdown or safety failure.
Your truck accident lawyer in Miami will consider all parties when weighing who to levy an injury claim against. Ultimately, they may file a claim against several parties all at once. This strategy helps maximize the chances of receiving an injury settlement that covers all of your accident losses.
When to Speak with an Attorney
If you or a loved one is involved in a truck accident in the Miami area, contact a truck accident attorney immediately.
Gathering evidence and proving liability in car accidents can be stressful even in the most straightforward cases. In cases involving semi trucks, determining fault can quickly become an overwhelming task.
It’s important that you don’t rely solely on the liability insurance company to offer you the compensation you need to repay all of your accident losses. These companies are notorious for offering accident victims low settlements to save the company money.
Before you speak with an insurance company, get advice from an experienced truck accident attorney in Miami.
Our Miami Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help
At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, we have years of experience handling these specific types of cases. We’re proud of our years of service to the Miami area and would be honored to handle proceedings with the insurance company on your behalf.
You don’t have to shoulder the burden of trying to prove liability in these complicated cases by yourself. Call our office today (800) 801-6850 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation at no cost to you.