If you get hurt in a truck accident, you will have to deal with two different entities in a lawsuit: the truck driver and the trucking company that employs them. This can make suing someone personally after a truck accident more complicated than suing a non-commercial driver.
While suing is likely an option in your case, you may be able to seek compensation without going to court. But the best way to know your options for your unique case is through a consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Truck Accident Damages Are Serious
Truck accidents are deadly and can result in serious damages. Remember, if these damages were caused due to the negligent actions of another party, you can file a claim against them and win a settlement.
Consider the size and weight of the average truck on the road. Large trucks are bigger and heavier than the standard passenger vehicle, even when excluding their cargo. This is why truck drivers usually come out of an accident unscathed while occupants of passenger vehicles suffer.
It’s essential that all parties exercise a strong duty of care to prevent accidents like these from happening. Still, truck accidents happen all the time throughout the country. Thus, the law allows you to pursue financial compensation.
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Filing a Personal Injury Claim vs Pursuing a Lawsuit
Once you know who was at fault for your accident, you can consider what course of legal action to take. The first step is typically filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Most personal injury cases end during the claim process.
When you file your insurance claim, the insurance company will respond. They’ll either accept your claim, deny it, or send a counteroffer. In most cases, you will receive a lowball settlement offer. Although a lump sum of money upfront might be tempting, you should never accept the first offer.
If you receive a lowball settlement offer, your lawyer will work to negotiate for a higher settlement. If all goes well, you’ll agree on a settlement amount and receive your compensation. While most injury claims end here, there are situations where you will need to file a lawsuit.
Determining Liability in a Truck Accident
Before you can sue anyone in a truck accident case, you’ll need to know who was at fault for the accident. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) §51-1-6, the negligent party in an injury accident is responsible for the damages.
In other types of auto accidents, the at-fault party is typically one of the drivers. However, a truck accident may be more complicated than that. The negligent party in a commercial truck accident could be:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company (if they were negligent in employing the driver)
- A manufacturer of the truck’s parts (if a defective part caused the accident)
- A cargo company (if they loaded the truck’s cargo improperly)
- The maintenance company (if they overlooked a maintenance issue)
- Another driver involved in the accident
As you can see, many parties are involved in making sure a large truck is safe to be on the roads. One party may be fully liable for the accident, or more than one party is at fault.
Since so many parties may have been negligent in your accident, you and your lawyer will need to investigate the details. This may require looking into things like truck maintenance logs, the truck’s camera footage, employee records, truck driver logs, drug screening results, cargo records, witness accounts, and more.
When You Can Sue Someone Personally After a Truck Accident
If your lawyer and the insurance company cannot reach a settlement or they deny your claim, there may be no choice but to sue in court. This is not a decision to take lightly, as lawsuits can take a long time and cost a lot of money. You’ll want to discuss the merits of your case and your legal options with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Suing the Truck Driver Personally
While most truck accident cases involve the trucking company or truck manufacturer, there are plenty of scenarios in which you can hold the truck driver personally liable for your damages. Additionally, there are some instances in which you may have to sue both the driver and the trucking company or any other party involved.
If your truck accident involves situations where it makes sense to sue the driver directly, such as if they were violating trucking regulations during the accident or exhibiting malicious behavior, you can file your lawsuit directly against them. This is largely because the events that led to your accident directly involved the driver’s egregious negligence.
However, keep in mind that suing the truck driver directly, especially if they’re an independent contractor, may not allow you to fully recover compensation for all your damages. To know for sure whether or not it makes sense to sue the truck driver after the accident personally, you should discuss the details with a truck accident lawyer right away.
Suing Another Driver Personally
Sometimes, truck accidents happen and have nothing to do with the truck driver or company. Another driver could have been responsible for your truck wreck. This is a rare situation, but it can happen. However, you will usually want to file an injury claim with the driver’s insurance company to reach a settlement first.
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Comparative Fault for Truck Accident Cases
If more than one party is at fault in a truck accident, each party is responsible for their percentage of fault in the accident. However, if you were partially responsible for some of the accidents, you can still seek compensation if you were less than 50% at fault under OCGA §51-12-33.
Even though you can file your claim being less than 50% responsible, whatever percentage you are responsible for will get deducted from your final settlement total. This is the modified comparative fault rule in Georgia. This is especially important in cases like a truck accident where more than one party has a degree of responsibility for the crash.
Why You Should Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer
Even though most truck accident cases will settle outside of court, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire a lawyer. Remember, the law only entitles you with the right to sue or file a claim. It doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get a fair settlement. Mainly due to comparative fault laws, it’s essential that you prove your case thoroughly to get appropriately compensated for your damages.
Hiring one of our truck accident lawyers to assist you isn’t risky. When you reach out, there is zero obligation, and we never charge anything upfront for our services. We only get paid through a portion of the settlement we win for you. If we can’t win you a settlement, you pay us nothing in return.
Talk to a Truck Accident Lawyer in Georgia for Free Today
If you have questions about who to sue or where to pursue legal action in your truck accident case, call John Foy & Associates today. We can look at the details of your case and help you come up with a plan of action for the compensation you deserve. Call us or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation.