Boston Truck Accident Lawyer
Companies in Massachusetts and around the country rely on large trucks to move their products wherever they need to go. Unfortunately, these trucks are highly prone to causing accidents that can severely injure the occupants of passenger vehicles.
Whenever truck drivers and trucking companies cause crashes, they can be held responsible for the victims’ losses. Truck accidents often happen on local roads with vehicles like delivery trucks or on interstate highways with larger semi-trailer trucks. You can sue the driver and the trucking company that hired them. Naming both defendants in your lawsuit might help you get all your damages covered more easily. Damages in truck accidents are usually very high because injuries tend to be severe.
The Boston truck accident lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan can represent you in your lawsuit. We work to conduct independent investigations of the incident, analyze the actions of all people involved, and deal with the insurance companies so that you can get your life back on track. For a free case evaluation, call us at (617) 539-8366.
Where do Truck Accidents Happen Around Boston?
Truck accidents can happen almost anywhere. Local roads and busy interstate highways are common truck accident locations. Where your truck accident happened might play a big role in how the crash occurred. Due to their large size, trucks cannot go wherever they want to, and size and weight restrictions apply on many local roads. Meanwhile, larger semi-trailer trucks are more common on interstate highways. Talk to our Boston truck accident attorneys about where and how your accident happened to get your case started.
Local roads are often narrower than major highways and tend to run through cities, towns, and residential neighborhoods. Signs warning drivers about pedestrians or children at play are common on local roads. As such, size and weight restrictions prohibit trucks as large as semi-trailers from using these roads. Most truck accidents on local roads involve delivery trucks, dump trucks, or moving trucks.
Delivery trucks and similar-sized vehicles are more common on local roads because they are not as large as semi-trailers and need to make deliveries to homes and businesses in the area. Even so, these vehicles are still very large and heavy compared to standard cars and can cause serious damage and injuries in an accident.
Local roads tend to have lower speed limits, especially in residential neighborhoods. High rates of speed are incredibly dangerous and perhaps the most significant factor determining how bad a truck accident might be. On local roads, accidents are usually less severe than on major highways, meaning the damages you can claim will differ.
In addition, accidents on local roads tend to fall under the jurisdiction of local law enforcement. If you were involved in a truck accident on a local road in Boston, the Boston Police Department would likely investigate the case and write a crash report. Knowing the exact location of your accident is important because it might determine which precinct handles your case and where we need to get a copy of your crash report.
Interstate highways are incredibly dangerous places for truck accidents. Not only are trucks much larger on interstate highways, but the speed limits are also much higher, and accidents can be catastrophic. Size and weight restrictions on interstate highways usually allow for much larger trucks, like semi-trailer trucks and 18-wheelers. Standard cars are dwarfed compared to these monstrous vehicles, and an accident is likely to be much more severe, if not deadly.
Semi-trailer trucks are known for making very long journeys and often travel across numerous interstate highways, often for very long periods. Interstate highways often allow drivers to travel at much higher rates of speed. For example, speed limits on I-90 that runs through Boston are usually around 65 mph. A crash with a semi-trailer truck at such speeds could spell disaster, and the damages available in your lawsuit would likely be very significant.
Accidents on interstate highways often fall under the jurisdiction of state authorities. The Massachusetts State Police will probably investigate accidents on highways in and around Boston. This also means that a state trooper will file your crash report, and we may need to use different channels or online portals to obtain a copy.
Suing Negligent Truck Drivers for Boston Truck Accident Cases
Truck drivers assume the duty of protecting other people they encounter on the road by following traffic laws and trucking regulations. Other drivers, their passengers, and even pedestrians are owed a duty under these rules. Any actions or inactions by the truck driver that breach this duty and cause injury could be considered negligence that can justify suing the driver.
Plaintiffs in truck accident cases can prove negligence in several ways, the simplest of which is to obtain a police report that cites the truck driver for breaking a rule of the road. If a truck driver breaks the law and this violation results in an accident, the law assumes that the truck driver was negligent. This concept of negligence per se can make some claims against negligent truck drivers relatively easy.
If the trucker is not cited for breaking a traffic law, a plaintiff may need to investigate how long the truck driver was on the road on the day of the accident and in the days leading up to the accident. They may also need to speak with witnesses about the positioning of the vehicles and actions taken by the trucker that led to the accident. Many of these things violate state and federal trucking regulations that drivers must follow to keep other people safe. They could also violate safe-driving principles that any reasonable truck driver should follow, even if they do not explicitly violate any laws.
Our Boston truck accident attorney can take the lead in investigating a truck accident in the Boston area to prove that a trucker’s poor driving caused the accident in question.
Suing the Trucking Company for Truck Accident Injuries in Boston
A truck driver who causes an accident is almost always a defendant in the resulting truck accident lawsuit, but that trucker’s employer may also be a defendant in the case. If the company took actions or failed to take actions that helped place the plaintiff at risk of injury, the company could share liability. As the driver’s employer, the company might also be held responsible in place of the individual employee, depending on the circumstances of the crash and the employment structure.
Trucking Company Liability
There are strict federal regulations that determine how the trucking industry must conduct business alongside the regulations that dictate what individual truckers must do. Among other requirements, vehicles cannot exceed specified maximum weight limits, drivers cannot exceed a certain number of hours per week on the road, and cargo must be properly secured. Many of these rules work to constrain trucking companies and stop them from practices that might injure drivers.
Failing to follow virtually any of these regulations puts others at a greater risk of injury. If an investigation reveals that this kind of violation led to the accident, both the truck driver and their parent company could be held responsible for the injuries that result. Other mistakes on the part of the trucking company could also allow you to hold them liable, such as negligent hiring or retention of a driver that they should have known was dangerous or mistakes in vehicle upkeep that caused the crash.
Trucking companies, as employers, can also be held liable when their drivers cause crashes simply because they are the driver’s employer. In the same way that a grocery store might be held liable for a spill that a specific employee did not clean up, a trucking company can be sued for the mistakes its specific drivers make behind the wheel.
To sue for this “vicarious liability” under a legal principle called “respondeat superior,” you have to show that the driver was working within the scope of their duties when the negligence occurred. Since truck drivers are hired to drive trucks, any mistakes they make behind the wheel of the truck are likely to be within the scope of their employment. If the trucker deviated from the assigned route or was driving the truck in their off-duty time, that could cause issues for this kind of accident case, but those issues are rare.
An issue that is common in trucking cases, however, is that you cannot sue a trucking company for a contractor’s mistakes. Many truck drivers are owner-operators or independent contractors that do jobs for trucking and transportation companies, but they are not employees. If the driver is not an employee, you cannot hold the trucking company liable as their employer. Instead, the mistakes end with the truck driver, but they will likely have liability insurance to cover negligence that occurs during their business operations on top of any auto insurance they carry.
Vicariously liability only applies when an employee commits an act of negligence while carrying out their typical job duties. If the employee (i.e., trucker) were off duty or otherwise not acting in furtherance of their job, respondeat superior would not apply. However, you might still be able to sue the trucking company under a theory of negligent hiring, depending on the circumstances.
Under this legal theory, the trucking company can be held liable if they knew or reasonably should have known that the truck driver was unfit for the job and posed a risk of harm on the job. Liability might be imposed on the trucking company even if the employee was not acting in furtherance of their job duties when the accident happened. For example, a truck driver taking a company-owned truck on an unscheduled detour to handle personal business or errands might cause an accident. Under a theory of negligent hiring, the trucking company might still be liable if they knew the trucker posed a safety risk when they hired them.
This legal theory often comes up in cases where truckers are charged with a DUI. The trucker might be intoxicated while driving and cause a serious accident. If the trucking company knew that the trucker had a history of alcohol abuse or DUIs and hired them anyway, the trucking company can be held liable for negligent hiring.
Other At-Fault Parties
Our truck accident lawyer in Boston can help identify all possible defendants to maximize the potential compensation for a victim. In some cases involving multi-vehicle crashes or pileups, you may be able to sue other drivers alongside the truck driver.
Who You Should Name in a Boston Truck Accident Lawsuit
While numerous parties, including truckers, trucking companies, and other drivers, might be responsible for an accident, plaintiffs often wonder who they should name in their lawsuits. It is often difficult to determine who is responsible at first, as truck accidents tend to be complicated and might involve numerous vehicles and drivers. It is usually a good idea to name both the truck driver and the trucking company in your lawsuit for damages.
Truckers are usually the primary defendants in truck accident lawsuits because they operated the truck that caused the accident. The trucker’s actions are typically the direct cause of the crash. This usually means that you should name the trucker in your lawsuit.
Unfortunately, truck drivers are ordinary people who often do not have the finances or insurance to cover your damages fully. This is why it is also important to include the trucking company in your lawsuit. Trucking companies, especially larger companies, are usually more capable of covering expensive damages. They often have more capital to pay for things like medical bills and often have more insurance. Even if they are not the primary defendant, they are the most capable of covering your expenses and should definitely be named in your lawsuit. Our Boston truck accident lawyers can help you determine what parties must be included in your case.
Damages to Claim in a Boston Truck Accident Injury Case
Many Boston truck accident cases leave drivers in cars and SUVs with serious injuries, while many truck drivers are able to walk away from the crash with minor or moderate injuries. Since the victim was hit by a vehicle that likely weighs around 20-times what their car weighs, they are likely to face serious, permanent, or even disabling injuries. These victims are often entitled to claim substantial financial compensation and damages after a crash.
First, victims could be entitled to compensation to cover their medical bills. These damages could pay for many different things, such as medical transportation to the hospital after the crash, emergency procedures to stabilize a victim, and ongoing physical therapy and rehabilitation after a severe injury. If the injury resulted in enhanced care needs, such as home nursing care, crutches, or a wheelchair, those costs should also be covered in a lawsuit.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Second, victims can claim compensation for other economic harms they face because of the crash, such as lost wages. If it will take you a while to recover from your injuries and you will be unable to work in the meantime, a lawsuit may be able to cover lost wages. Additionally, if you cannot return to work or have to take a different job because of the disabilities your injuries caused, you may be entitled to claim the difference between your old wages and your new wages as damages to your earning capacity.
Pain and Suffering, Emotional Distress, Etc.
Lastly, one of the most important types of damages you can claim in your case is for pain and suffering. These damages are not available in most insurance claims and are only available in lawsuits in Massachusetts that have at least $2,000 in economic damages. These damages pay you directly for things like physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress, and other intangible, non-economic damages. Talk to a lawyer about how to calculate these damages and determine what compensation you should be entitled to.
Determining how much your damages are worth can be difficult. In many cases, the bills themselves tell only part of the story; other financial statements and economic reports might be necessary to determine how much the damages actually cost you as compared to how much you were billed. Damages from lost wages could also need to be projected into the future, which could require calculations and testimony from expert witnesses and actuaries to determine how much those damages will cost you going forward. In any case, never accept the valuation that the defendant gives you. Large trucking companies work to keep settlements low to protect their bottom line. Work with a Boston truck accident lawyer who represents you and your best interests and can tell you what your case might actually be worth, both at settlement and if your case proceeds to a jury trial.
Talk to Our Boston Truck Accident Attorney Today for a Free Consultation
The Law Office of John J. Sheehan’s Boston truck accident lawyers are prepared to handle your truck accident case or a case involving a loved one killed in a truck accident. Contact our Boston personal injury attorneys today at (617) 539-8366 to arrange a free case review.