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Who Can Be Sued in a Truck Accident?

When you’re involved in a truck crash, the consequences can be catastrophic. Thousands of people are killed every year in truck crashes, leaving behind grieving families and financial burdens. Often, those who survive in truck collisions sustain disabling bodily injuries, and the cost of medical treatment is overwhelming.

Many factors; ranging from driving under the influence to speeding to distracted driving, cause truck wrecks. An experienced truck accident attorney who understands the complexities of truck accident laws can help you establish who’s at fault, who can be sued in a truck accident, and guide you through seeking fair compensation. At Marks Law Group, we have helped thousands of truck accident victims recover the compensation they deserve and we can help you too. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our Decatur personal injury lawyers today at 404-939-1485.

Who Do I Sue if I Was in a Truck Accident in Decatur, Georgia?

Trucking accidents are more complex than many other types of personal injury cases. Many rules and regulations govern the trucking industry, and often many factors contribute to truck collisions. After a trucking accident, various parties can be held liable, including:

The Truck Driver

A truck driver's negligence can play a tremendous role in many truck crash cases. Instances of negligence may include reckless driving, speeding, driving while tired, distracted driving, and driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Also, the truck driver might have ignored the Federal Hours of Service Regulations. These regulations restrict the number of hours truck drivers may be on the road.

The Trucking Company

The trucking company that employs the truck driver can also be held liable after a trucking accident. However, most trucking companies try to avoid being held liable by claiming that the truck driver is an independent contractor. Thus, it’s essential to examine carefully the working relationship between the driver and the company to determine if the trucking company can be held liable. 

Who Can Be Sued in a Truck Accident?

A trucking company can be held liable after a truck accident if the truck driver displays the trucking company placard with their logo inside the truck. This can make the trucking company liable even if the company claims the truck driver was an independent contractor.

The Shipping Company

Also, the company shipping the cargo can share fault in a trucking accident, especially if they overloaded the truck. Further, they could also be partly responsible if they loaded the truck unevenly. Overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks are likely to roll over or flip on their side.

Typically, this happens when the truck driver encounters inclement weather, such as heavy winds while traveling at higher speeds.

The Truck Mechanic

Trucks and semi-trucks travel thousands of miles on the road every month. Thus, proper maintenance is essential in making sure the truck remains in safe driving condition. However, often the party responsible for servicing and maintaining the truck fails in this duty. This can cause mechanical breakdowns while on the road, endangering the life of the truck driver and those he or she shares the road with.

The Vehicle Designer or Manufacturer

A defective part can play a significant role in a trucking accident. If so, it’s possible to hold the manufacturer, designer, or other parties in the supply chain partly responsible for the trucking accident. Common defective products that can cause a motor vehicle accident include tire blowouts, steering system failure, and brake line failures.

Can Someone Sue You Personally After a Truck Accident?

If your truck accident lawyer and the insurance company disagree on a settlement or if the insurance company denies your truck accident claim, you may decide to sue. This isn’t a small decision because personal injury lawsuits can be expensive and lengthy. Thus, it’s essential you discuss the pros and cons with an experienced truck accident lawyer.

Suing the Truck Driver Personally

While you can sue the trucking company, shipping company, the truck mechanic, or another entity that was at fault for the trucking accident, you can also sue the truck driver personally. You may often need to sue both the truck driver and the trucking company or another entity that was responsible for your accident.

If the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, the trucking company is typically responsible for the driver’s actions while he or she is on duty. However, there are situations where it’s best to sue the truck driver directly, especially if he or she was violating trucking regulations during the crash or exhibiting reckless behavior.

However, if the truck driver is an independent contractor, they will have fewer assets and you'll have trouble getting the financial compensation you deserve. To know whether it makes sense to sue the truck driver after a truck accident, discuss the circumstances of the accident with an experienced truck accident lawyer right away.

Suing Another Driver Personally

If the at-fault party in the trucking accident was another driver, not the truck driver, you can sue them directly. However, this happens rarely. But you should file a personal injury claim with the driver’s insurance provider to reach a settlement first.

What’s the Average Semi Truck Accident Settlement?

Since many truck accident settlements are confidential, it’s impossible to pinpoint an actual settlement figure. But it’s common for truck accident settlements to reach into the millions.

Many factors influence settlement figures, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Every truck accident case is unique. But often the higher your medical costs are and the longer you need medical treatment, the higher your truck accident settlement will climb.
  • Lost Wages: After a truck accident, you may miss substantial time from work, and you may never work again. Whatever the case, your lost income will be part of your settlement amount.
  • Property or Vehicle Damage: Since 18-wheelers are massive, they cause catastrophic damage to the motor vehicles they hit. Here, the insurance company will total your vehicle. If your vehicle can be fixed, an insurance adjuster will determine the cost of repairing it.  
  • Pain and Suffering: Calculating pain and suffering isn’t as straightforward as other damages. Pain and suffering damages are also called “non-economic” damages, and they include everything from loss of enjoyment of life to physical pain and disfigurement and other types of emotional distress. Often, the more severe your truck accident injuries are, the higher the settlement amount for pain and suffering.
  • Legal Fees: Personal law firms often work on a 'contingency fee' basis, which means your personal injury attorney will take a percentage of the payout you receive. Different personal injury law firms charge different amounts, so make sure you read the fine print of whatever agreement you sign carefully before hiring a law firm to represent you.
A photo of traffic backed up on the interstate after a truck accident.

Often, it’s the insurance companies that pay the settlements and jury verdicts in trucking accident litigation. Because of the nature of the commercial trucking industry, truck insurance policies typically have much higher liability limits than average passenger car insurance policies. For example, according to the Federal Regulations, interstate trucks hauling non-hazardous goods must carry a minimum of $750,000 in liability insurance. According to Overdrive, a trucking industry magazine, trucks should carry at least $5 million in coverage.

Can I Seek Compensation After a Truck Accident If I’m Partially At-Fault for the Accident?

If multiple parties are at fault for a truck accident, each party is responsible for the percentage of fault they hold. Under Georgia law, if you were partially at fault for the accident, you’re eligible for financial compensation only if you were less than 50% at fault.

If you were less than 50% at fault, your total damages will be reduced based on your percentage of fault, so if you’re 30% at fault, you’ll recover 70% of the damages you’re entitled to. In Georgia, this is referred to as modified comparative negligence. This is essential in cases such as truck accident cases where multiple parties may hold some liability for the wreck.

Often, truck crashes leave victims with catastrophic injuries and financial burdens. Also, people who are hurt in truck accidents can’t work for an extended period of time, if ever again. Fortunately, these and other financial losses are often compensable by filing a Georgia personal injury claim. The Decatur auto accident lawyers at Marks Law Group are committed to helping truck accident victims recover the maximum settlement or award and we can help you too. To schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced truck accident lawyers, call our Decatur law firm at 404-939-1485, or chat with us online to learn how we can help. 

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