Can You Sue a Company When Hit by Their Truck?

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If you’ve been in an accident with a commercial truck, chances are good you sustained serious injuries or damage to your vehicle. Medical bills and car repair costs add up quickly, not to mention the wages lost if you’re not able to work during recovery. So who is on the hook for those medical bills when you are hit by a truck? Is there any way to hold the trucking company responsible for the accident? A good lawyer will help you answer these questions, and get the compensation you deserve. 

How to Prove a Trucking Company is At Fault in an Accident 

To file a lawsuit against a trucking company, you must prove that either 1) the driver’s negligence caused the accident, 2) that the company employed an unsafe driver, or 3) that the company failed to ensure their vehicle was safe on the road. According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), there are minimum standards that apply to all commercial trucks over 10,000 pounds OR that operate on interstate commerce. If an accident takes place because the company or their driver didn’t follow those regulations, the company can be sued.

Was the Truck Driver Negligent?

If the truck driver is employed by the company and was guilty of any of the following unsafe driving practices, it’s possible to sue the company for his or her negligence.

  • Unsafe driving in hazardous weather. If roads are wet, large commercial trucks must drive under the speed limit and leave plenty of space between vehicles. 
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Using a handheld phone or texting while driving.
  • Drowsy or fatigued driving.
  • Aggressive driving.
  • Speeding.
  • Following too closely. Truck drivers must leave the length of two football fields between vehicles in order to make abrupt stops safely. 
  • Making illegal turns
  • Failing to secure cargo loads. 

Did the Company Hire an Unsafe Driver or Fail to Deliver Proper Training?

A trucking company must conduct thorough background checks to ensure they are hiring competent drivers. After that, they are required to follow Department of Transportation and FMCSA training and screening requirements to make sure drivers operate their trucks safely. 

An initial truck driver background check must include:

  • A Motor Vehicle Records (MVR) report for every state where the driver has worked
  • A drug and alcohol history screening
  • A drug test
  • A physical exam 

To remain qualified, drivers must receive a physical exam every two years and pass random drug tests. The company is required to keep files of all records pertaining to the driver’s employment, including licensing, certifications, traffic tickets and accidents. 

The company is also responsible for initial and continued training. By the time a new driver gets on the road, he or she should have a thorough understanding of how to operate the vehicle safely as well as how to recognize and handle fatigue while driving. A driver should also take continued courses on motor vehicle safety. If a company has failed to follow proper procedures for hiring or training a driver, or allows a driver to drive more hours than legally allowed, the company may be found liable for an accident caused by that driver.

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Did the Company Fail to Maintain and Inspect Their Truck?

The company that owns the truck is responsible for making sure it’s safe before leaving their facility. Some things that should be maintained between trips include:

  • Brake calibration
  • Tire treads 
  • Cracked windshields
  • Lights and reflector

Trucking companies must also follow a regular maintenance schedule and keep records of all inspections including: 

  • Records of all maintenance, lubrication, and repairs for one year while in service, and six months after service.
  • Copies of roadside inspections for one year.
  • Records of Daily Vehicle Inspection Reports for three months.
  • Copies of annual inspections for 14 months.

If an accident happened because the company failed to maintain a vehicle or keep records of that maintenance, the company can be found liable. 

When is a Trucking Company Not at Fault?

In some cases, the company cannot be held responsible for an accident. Instead, a traffic lawyer will go after the party who is at fault.

  • The Driver. If a negligent driver is an independent contractor working for the company, it’s possible to sue the driver for damages.
  • A Parts Manufacturer. When a faulty mechanical part causes a vehicle to operate unsafely, the manufacturer can be found liable.
  • A Third-Party Maintenance Provider. If the trucking company’s maintenance and inspections are handled by an outside company and that company failed to detect a safety issue such as faulty brakes, the maintenance company could be at fault.
  • A Freight Company. Some trucking businesses hire professional cargo loading companies to secure the goods they deliver. If the loading company did not secure cargo properly, they may be held responsible for an accident. 
  • City, County, or State Road Department. When a trucking crash happens due to unsafe roads (such as large potholes), a good truck accident lawyer can determine who was responsible for poor road maintenance and go after them for compensation. 

Hit by A Truck? Why You Should Call a Truck Accident Attorney Right Away

There’s a lot to deal with after being a hit by a truck, like choosing doctors to help with your pain and the right garage to fix your vehicle. But the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury lawyer to ensure you get compensated for your pain and suffering. Insurance companies will get involved right away to offer a settlement, but their offer may not account for all the monetary and non-monetary losses you will incur. A lawyer will investigate the accident to find out who is responsible, and  – and will help you sue the trucking company if they are at fault. 

Keep in mind that every state has a different statute of limitations when it comes to filing a lawsuit. In Missouri, victims have 5 years from the time of the accident, but only 2 years in Illinois.

Getting help right away can make the difference between getting back on your feet soon or suffering physically, emotionally, and financially for years to come.


Truck Accidents