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. What makes Boston hit-and-run accidents unique is that the person who causes the accident often cannot be identified. There are common causes of truck accidents. 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.
Examples of Negligent Actions Committed by Trucking Companies in Massachusetts
There are multiple types of negligent actions committed by trucking companies that can lead to harmful accidents. Our Massachusetts truck accident lawyers can help hold trucking companies accountable for crashes stemming from any of the following forms of negligence:
Negligent Cargo Securement
Rules for cargo securement on commercial trucks have been set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). There are several guidelines that trucking companies and their employees must abide by when securing cargo. For instance, cargo placed beside each other should be stored in direct contact with each other so that it is prevented from moving or shifting during transit. Cargo that is not firmly immobilized can cause serious accidents by moving during transit. Our team can investigate whether your crash was caused by negligent cargo securement.
Improper Use of Tiedowns
A tiedown is a type of securing device that is used to restrain cargo on trucks during transit. Any of the following items can constitute a tiedown:
- Webbing ratchets
Tiedowns must be attached and secured in ways that prevent them from unfastening, loosening, or releasing while trucks are moving. Also, tiedowns used to secure cargo on trailers with rub rails must be secured on the inside of rub rails to prevent the tiedowns from wearing down. Our Massachusetts truck accident lawyers can help victims sue trucking companies for crashes caused by their improper use of tiedowns.
Hours of Service Violations
Furthermore, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also sets forth hours of service regulations that govern how long commercial truck drivers are permitted to stay on the road without a break. Unfortunately, many trucking companies place undue pressure on their drivers to deliver their cargo on time. Accordingly, many truck drivers can feel forced to violate their hours of service regulations in order to complete their trips as soon as possible.
Drivers who violate hours of service regulations can become fatigued and are prone to making careless mistakes behind the wheel. Fortunately, trucking companies who force their drivers to remain on the roads for excessive periods of time can be sued for crashes caused by their tired drivers. Our Malden truck accident lawyers can help victims of such accidents build their cases against negligent trucking companies.
Lack of Vehicle Maintenance
Lack of vehicle maintenance is also a common example of negligence committed by trucking companies in Massachusetts. Trucking companies are required to provide proper maintenance and upkeep for their vehicles. When trucks are not properly maintained, serious accidents can occur. For example, a devastating crash may happen because a trucks brakes or tires were not replaced in a timely manner. Our team can investigate whether your truck accident occurred because a trucking company did not adequately maintain their vehicle.
Examples of Negligent Actions Committed by Truck Drivers in Massachusetts
There are also many different forms of negligent conduct committed by truck drivers that can lead to harmful accidents. The following are common examples of negligent actions committed by truck drivers in Massachusetts:
All motor vehicles will become more difficult to handle at high speeds. However, because of the vehicles’ size, trucks can become even more difficult to control when drivers are speeding. Such accidents often occur on highways while truck drivers are racing to deliver their cargo on time. Furthermore, collisions that occur at high speeds are more likely to cause serious injuries. Our Massachusetts truck accident lawyers can help hold speeding drivers responsible for crashes they cause.
Distracted driving is another common source of truck accidents. Generally, there are three forms of distraction that can occur. Truck drivers can become cognitively, visually, or manually distracted. Further, there are many different activities that can potentially distract motorists. The following are common activities that distract truck drivers in Massachusetts:
- Talking on the phone
- Entering information into a GPS
- Viewing social media
- Eating or drinking
- Choosing music for the radio
There are many different types of evidence that can be utilized to prove that a distracted driver is at fault. Accordingly, if you were hurt because of a crash involving a distracted motorist, the assistance of our Somerville truck accident lawyers can be very helpful when building your case.
Tailgating is also a common example of negligence committed by truck drivers. Tailgating refers to the practice of travelling too closely behind the car in front of you. Tailgating drivers will have difficulty avoiding collisions if vehicles in front of them begin to brake or slow down. Such accidents usually occur during periods of high traffic congestion. Fortunately, tailgating truck drivers can be sued for accidents they cause.
Improper Lane Changes
Additionally, many truck accidents occur because drivers commit improper lane changes. Improper lane changes can happen when truck drivers change lanes without using their turn signals or try to change lanes in illegal zones. Accidents caused by improper lane changes can cause serious harm and often occur on highways or in busy urban areas. Victims can contact our Massachusetts truck accident lawyers for guidance and support after being struck by a truck driver who committed an improper lane change.
Drunk driving is another example of negligent behavior exhibited by truck drivers. While drunk, drivers will exhibit poor motor skills, blurry vision, and careless decision-making abilities. Therefore, drunk drivers can typically be held liable for accidents they cause. Crashes caused by drunk drivers usually occur at night but can happen at any time of day. Our Massachusetts truck accident lawyers can help prove that a drunk truck driver is at fault for your accident.
Running Red Lights
Lastly, many truck drivers cause accidents by running red lights. When drivers run red lights, they can cause catastrophic collisions with vehicles travelling in other directions through intersections. Eyewitness testimony, physical evidence from the scene, and surveillance camera footage are all examples of evidence that may be used to prove that a truck driver who ran a red light is at fault.
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.