Your Legal Rights After a Commercial Truck Accident

Last Updated: 

February 16, 2024

Being involved in any type of vehicle accident can be frightening, and this is especially true if the accident involves a commercial truck. Whether it’s a smaller box truck or an 18-wheeler, the damage and injuries can be substantial.

Did you know that 373 deaths attributed to truck accidents occurred in Florida in 2021 alone? If you’re injured in a commercial truck accident, you have legal rights. This can include receiving compensation for your damages. Here’s what you should know about your legal rights after a commercial truck accident.

Key Takeaways on Legal Rights After Commercial Truck Accidents

  1. Severe Impact of Truck Accidents: Commercial truck accidents, whether involving smaller trucks or 18-wheelers, often result in substantial damage and severe injuries.
  2. Alarming Statistics: In 2021 alone, Florida recorded 373 deaths attributed to truck accidents, highlighting the critical need to understand your legal rights if involved in such incidents.
  3. Common Causes: Identify potential causes, including truck driver fatigue, distracted driving, speeding, improper maintenance, overloading, and even road conditions, to better understand the circumstances surrounding the accident.
  4. Complex Liability Determination: Determining liability in commercial truck accidents can be intricate, with multiple parties potentially at fault. This complexity underscores the importance of professional legal assistance.
  5. Varied Liable Parties: Liability may rest with the truck driver, trucking company, shipping company, component manufacturer, repair shop, or even entities responsible for road maintenance, depending on the circumstances.
  6. Protective Measures Post-Accident: Immediate reporting, seeking medical treatment even for seemingly minor injuries, obtaining a copy of the accident report, and refraining from discussing the incident with the insurance company are crucial steps to protect legal rights.
  7. Legal Representation is Essential: Given the complexity and severity of commercial truck accidents, seeking the expertise of a personal injury attorney specialising in this field is crucial. They navigate specific laws, handle negotiations with various parties, and advocate for fair compensation.
Get Your FREE Signed Copy of Take Your Shot

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

Most trucking companies take care to ensure the safety of their drivers and everyone else on the road. However, regardless of the safety precautions, accidents can still occur. Some common causes of commercial truck accidents include:

  • Truck driver fatigue
  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Improper vehicle maintenance
  • Overloading

Even road conditions can be a contributing factor in commercial truck accidents.

Types of Injuries Commonly Sustained in Truck Accidents

Due to the size of most commercial trucks, injuries are often severe and some are catastrophic. These can include but aren’t limited to:

Some accident victims can also suffer first-, second-, or third-degree burns if a gas tank is ruptured.

Who is Liable in a Commercial Truck Accident

Determining liability in a commercial truck accident is often complicated. More than one party may be at fault, which can include the truck driver, especially if they’re also the owner/operator. This can actually make it easier to file a personal injury case. 

When the driver is also the owner, it typically eliminates other parties, like a trucking company. from your lawsuit. Your claim is against the driver’s owner and operator's insurance policy.

So what happens when the driver isn’t the vehicle owner? Who’s liable for your injuries and property damage? This is when you may need to do a little research, and this is also when it’s helpful to work with an experienced personal injury attorney.

The trucking company may be partially or even fully responsible for the crash. If they hire unqualified drivers, they don’t keep up with the maintenance or follow federal safety standards, and this includes limiting a driver’s time behind the wheel. Legally, truck drivers can only be behind the wheel for 10 hours after a three-hour break.

The shipping company may also be held responsible for an accident. If they improperly loaded or secured the cargo you may be able to include the shipping company in your suit.

If a truck part malfunctions, the component manufacturer may be to blame. The same can apply to a repair shop if the work they perform is deemed negligent. This can include not properly attaching a part or reusing a bad component.

Poor road conditions can lead to accidents with commercial trucks. In this instance, the entity responsible for road maintenance may be the at-fault party, which can include a city, state, or county.

Your accident with a commercial truck may also be caused by another driver’s negligence. If this applies to your case, you and the truck driver may be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Don’t worry, you're not sharing the lawsuit with the truck driver. You’ll each file a separate lawsuit.

Protecting Your Legal Rights After a Commercial Trucking Accident

After being involved in a vehicle accident with a commercial truck, there are a few things you can do to help protect your legal rights. If your injuries are substantial, and this is common, your attorney will work to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Report the Accident Immediately

Some vehicle accidents in Florida you’re not required to report. For some accidents, you can wait up to ten days before filing a report with the authorities. This doesn’t apply in accidents with commercial vehicles. The law is clear here that you must immediately call the authorities.

Even if your vehicle is drivable and you haven’t sustained injuries, don’t leave the accident scene; this applies even after exchanging information with the other involved drivers. Leaving the scene of an accident is illegal. Not only are you jeopardising your personal injury case, but you’re also risking criminal charges. You can be charged with a hit-and-run or leaving the scene of an accident.

Seek Medical Treatment

If your injuries are minimal, consider yourself extremely fortunate since this rarely happens in trucking accidents. However, even if you feel fine, still make an appointment with a physician. You may have internal injuries and it can take a while to start exhibiting signs and symptoms. You also need your medical records if you plan on seeking compensation.

Get a Copy of the Accident Report

The responding authorities will create an accident report, but it’ll take a few days before you can pick up a copy. Don’t forget to get a copy. Everyone from your personal injury attorney to the insurance company will want to see the accident report.

Your report will also contain information about the accident that can help support your claim. If anyone witnessed the collision, your accident report will also contain their contact information. You should be able to request a copy of your report within about ten days after the accident.

Don’t Discuss the Accident with the Insurance Company

There’s a good chance you’ll be contacted by the insurance company shortly after being involved in an accident with a commercial truck. This is normal, and you should also expect the insurance adjuster to offer you a settlement amount. Don’t accept the initial offer; chances are it’s less than your damages. 

Once you accept a settlement offer, your case is considered closed. You can’t refile a claim for the same accident even if your damages keep piling up.

You also want to refrain from discussing the accident with the insurance company. Let your attorney take care of the discussions. Anything you say can be used against you, and this can affect the value of your claim.

Let an Attorney Protect Your Legal Rights

Accidents involving commercial trucks can be significantly more complex and severe due to the size and regulations governing commercial vehicles. If you find yourself in such a situation, reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney is crucial. 

An attorney with expertise in commercial truck accidents will be well-versed in the specific laws and regulations that apply, as well as the unique challenges these types of cases present. They can effectively navigate the legal system, deal with trucking companies and their insurance carriers, and advocate for your best interests. 

Related Articles: