Who Is Liable In A Truck Accident?
One of the primary differences in a case involving a big commercial truck and one involving a personal vehicle is the amount of damage that can be done by an 18 wheeler. Eighteen wheelers are big vehicles, they are heavier, it's a larger mass, so when they hit something they inflict more damage. They inflict more damage to the property, and they inflict more damage to the occupants who are inside. What I have frequently found is that anyone who is hit by a big truck, the injuries are more serious. Another big difference between cases involving commercial trucks and personal vehicles is commercial trucks are subject to a variety of regulations that somebody who is in a personal vehicle may not be subject to, and so it's important to know what Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations may apply, which regulations at the state level may apply, determine if any were violated, and determine if those violations played any role in causing the wreck. If they did, this can add additional sources of recovery to the clients, maybe punitive damages, a claim for attorneys fees, or litigation expenses. So it's important that anyone who was involved in a commercial truck wreck case hire somebody who has had experience handling those types of cases, because they are different than your every day run of the mill car accident with a personal vehicle.
Anytime someone has been involved in a wreck with a commercial truck, we begin working on identifying who are the potential defendants. So the truck driver who caused the wreck is one defendant, the company that employs the driver can be a defendant. Maybe there's some claim that the wreck happened because the truck wasn't loaded properly and maybe the company that loaded it has some responsibility. In Georgia, we have what is called a Direct Action Statute, so in a regular personal vehicle accident claim we can't name the insurance company as a defendant. But in cases involving motor carriers, we can name the insurance company as a defendant. And so we always name the insurance company as a defendant, and that is a strategic benefit going forward in the case because you have the presence of an insurance company on the pleadings when you go to court and present your case at trial.