If you were hurt in a truck accident, you are usually dealing with two different entities: 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.
Although the information below can help you know the legal options, the best way to answer your questions is through a consultation with an experienced truck accident lawyer. At John Foy & Associates, we have worked on countless truck accident cases for the past 20 plus years. To discuss your case and whether or not you need to sue, contact us for a FREE consultation at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online now.
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 Georgia Code § 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 failed to notice a maintenance issue)
- Another driver involved in the accident
As you can see, there are many parties involved in making sure a large truck is safe to be on the roads. One party may be fully liable for the accident, or there may be more than one party who is at fault.
Since there are so many parties who 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.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim Versus Pursuing a Lawsuit
Once you know who was at fault for your accident, then 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 your claim, 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.
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, you may decide to sue. This is not a decision to take lightly, as lawsuits can be lengthy and expensive. You’ll want to discuss the pros and cons with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Suing the Truck Driver Personally
While you can sue the trucking company or another entity that was responsible for the accident, you can also bring a lawsuit against the truck driver personally. In some cases, you might need to sue both the driver and the trucking company or another entity that was negligent in your accident.
When the truck driver is an employee of the trucking company, the company is usually responsible for the driver’s actions while on-the-clock. That being said, there are 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.
If the driver is an independent contractor, they will typically have fewer assets and you may have more trouble getting the compensation you deserve. To know for sure whether or not it makes sense to personally sue the truck driver after the accident, you should discuss the details with a truck accident lawyer right away.
Suing Another Driver Personally
If it turns out the at-fault party in the accident was another driver—not the truck driver—you can file a lawsuit directly against that driver too. 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.
Seeking Compensation for Partial Fault After a Truck Accident
If more than one party is at fault in a truck accident, each party would be responsible for the percentage of fault they hold. If you were partially responsible for some of the accident, you can still seek compensation if you were less than 50% at fault (Georgia Code § 51-12-33).
If you were less than 50% negligent in the accident, your total damages would simply be reduced based on your percentage of fault. In Georgia, this is known as modified comparative negligence. This is especially important in cases like a truck accident where more than one party may hold some degree of responsibility for the crash.
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. We’ll start with a FREE consultation and case evaluation.
To schedule your FREE consultation, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.