Do You Sue the Driver or the Trucking Company After a Truck Accident?
If you were in an accident with a tractor-trailer or another commercial truck, it can be difficult to know whom to sue for your injuries. On one hand, the driver who hit you was personally responsible for the crash – but on the other hand, their employer is often in a better position to pay for your damages. So, should you sue the driver or the trucking company?
In Massachusetts truck accident cases, the answer is typically to sue both. Trucking companies can be held responsible for their drivers’ mistakes at the wheel, but that doesn’t absolve the individual driver of their own fault. There are also many mistakes that the trucking company might have committed on their own, such as failing to maintain their vehicles.
For help with a truck accident case, call the Massachusetts truck accident lawyers at the Law Office of John J. Sheehan for a free case review. Our phone number is (617) 925-6407.
Who Do You Sue for Truck Accidents in Massachusetts?
Typically after a trucking accident, you will have to sue the individual driver who hit you. Auto accident cases are almost always filed, initially, against the other driver. If they were a commercial driver – such as a truck driver – then you can typically include their employer as well.
Any other drivers should also be sued if they contributed to the crash. Courts can assign partial blame to each driver and divide damages among them based on their percentage of fault.
Other payors – usually insurance companies – will insert themselves into the lawsuit. You typically do not aim to sue the insurance companies since they did not do anything to actually cause the crash. Instead, those insurance companies will step in to represent their drivers or trucking companies and pay damages on their behalf.
Suing a Truck Driver for a Trucking Accident in Massachusetts
The individual driver will usually be the core person “at fault” for your accident. If their actions behind the wheel caused your crash, you will need to sue them for the accident. The court can analyze their choices and mistakes leading up to the crash and hold them liable for what they did. Often, payments will come from their insurance company, as truck drivers otherwise cannot usually pay expensive damages out of pocket.
Suing a Trucking Company for a Trucking Accident in Massachusetts
Often, trucking companies are liable for their employees’ mistakes on the road, and they can be held liable for their own mistakes as well. Whereas individual truckers might not be able to pay your damages out of pocket and have to rely on insurance, trucking companies often have more ability to pay for the harms they caused. They may also have high-dollar insurance policies that can cover your needs after a crash.
Trucking companies can typically be held liable for accidents in two ways: in their own capacity and as the employer of the driver who hit you.
Suing Trucking Companies for Their Own Mistakes
Trucking companies often own the vehicles that their drivers take out on the road. This means that the trucking company is responsible for maintenance and upkeep. Putting a driver behind the wheel of a dangerous vehicle could make them liable for the crash. In fact, this kind of mistake sometimes means that the driver was also a victim of the trucking company’s negligence. In that case, your Boston truck accident lawyer might not even have to sue the driver if the whole accident was the trucking company’s fault.
Trucking companies can also be held liable for hiring dangerous drivers or keeping them on staff. If the trucking company had reason to know that their driver was a danger to others or had a history of bad accidents or vehicular assault, they cannot just ignore those issues. In many cases, it is negligent to continue to keep that driver on the road – and the trucking company can be held liable for that mistake.
Suing the Trucking Company for Employee Negligence
When an employee of a company commits negligent acts while working within the scope of their duties, their employer can typically be held liable for those mistakes. This is similar to how a grocery store might be liable if their workers failed to clean up a spill. Under the same legal principles, a trucking company can be held liable for a negligent truck driver’s mistakes behind the wheel.
Trucking companies cannot be held liable for mistakes of independent contractors – only employees. If the driver is an independent driver and does not work as an employee of the trucking company, the law might block you from suing the trucking company for the driver’s mistakes. However, an independent trucker is essentially the same as a small, private trucking company, and they typically have insurance to cover these kinds of accidents themselves. Talk to a Cambridge truck accident lawyer about whether you can sue the trucking company in your accident case.
Holding Trucking Companies Liable for Trucking Violations in Massachusetts
Trucking companies can sometimes be held accountable for violations of trucking regulations. Your Massachusetts truck accident attorney might be able to investigate the accident and learn that the trucking company committed serious violations. In past cases around the country, trucking companies have been accused of doing things like forcing drivers to work overtime and falsify driving logs to hide hours of service and weight capacity violations. When you sue the trucking company for these kinds of mistakes, you could even be able to claim punitive damages.
Call Our Massachusetts Truck Accident Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one faced injuries in a truck accident, call the Law Office of John J. Sheehan’s Wakefiled truck accident lawyers for a free case evaluation. You can reach us at (617) 925-6407.