Can I Sue a Trucking Company After a Semi-Truck Accident?

colorful large trailer trucks

Have you suffered injuries in a truck accident in Alabama? If so, you may have the option of filing a lawsuit against the trucking company to seek compensation for medical bills, vehicle damage, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Many accident victims assume that only the individual driver would be responsible for compensating the injured party for damages, but this isn’t always true. Trucking companies bear responsibility for drivers while they’re working. If one of their drivers causes an accident, that company could be held accountable and required to pay damages.

If you file a lawsuit against only the individual driver, you might not be able to recover sufficient compensation for your bills. It’s possible that the truck driver lacks the financial means to reimburse your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.

Trucking companies often try to distance themselves from the accident and any resulting liability. For example, they may label their drivers as “independent contractors” when they are in fact employees. A skilled truck accident attorney who understands the federal and state trucking laws can uncover the truth and pursue compensation from all available sources – including the trucking company and its insurance coverage.

The Trucking Company’s Liability for a Crash

There are several situations in which a trucking company may be held liable for an accident.

The following are several common scenarios in which a commercial trucking company can be held responsible for your accident:

  • Vicarious liability – Under the law, employers are typically liable for accidents caused by employees on the job. If it can be shown that the at-fault driver was in fact an employee of the trucking company, the trucking company and its insurer may be on the hook for damages caused by the driver.
  • Failure to properly maintain the truck — State and federal laws have strict regulations governing when and how trucking companies maintain their vehicles. Failure to properly maintain a truck can have disastrous consequences, such as brake failure, steering problems, and tire malfunctions.
  • Poor hiring and training practices — Trucking companies have a legal responsibility to ensure their drivers can safely perform their job. If a company knowingly hired an unqualified driver or failed to properly train a driver, you could hold them liable for your accident.
  • Falsified driving logs — Driver fatigue plays a major role in many truck accidents. Trucking companies sometimes knowingly permit falsified driving logs in order to increase the distance employees can travel in a given time. If a driver was in an accident when they should not have been driving, you might be able to hold the company liable.

What If They Called the Driver an ‘Independent Contractor’?

Truck drivers can be classified as an employee of a commercial trucking company or as an independent contractor. In general, a driver is an employee if the company controls how often and when they work. Employees may have benefits and work full-time. Independent contractors usually work for several different companies and may only work a few hours a week for each company. The company doesn’t control their work, and they are free to accept or reject tasks from the company.

Trucking companies are not automatically liable for accidents caused by independent contractors. However, the lines between employee and independent contractor can sometimes be blurry. Trucking companies may falsely claim an employee was an independent contractor in order to avoid liability. If this is happening in your situation, call an experienced truck accident attorney today.

Suing Both the Driver and the Company

Some accidents may warrant lawsuits against both the driver and the company. Two parties can share liability in personal injury cases. For example, it’s possible that both poor maintenance and reckless driving contributed to your accident, in which case you could hold both parties liable.

Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer

Truck accidents involve complicated legal issues and require assistance from an experienced truck accident attorney. The skilled lawyers at Stokes Stemle, LLC are ready to help you with your case. Call us today or reach out online for your free consultation.

About the Author

At Stokes Stemle, LLC, we believe in personalized service. We get to know you, your case, and your needs. Then, we craft a legal strategy that is specially tailored to you.