Truck accidents are among the deadliest types of accidents. So, after surviving a crash with one, you may want to hold the truck driver legally responsible for your injuries and accident-related losses.
You have the right to personally sue the driver or trucking company following a truck accident. However, how you do this and how much you can recover may depend on your state’s fault laws and the severity of your injuries.
How State Insurance Laws Influence Personal Injury Lawsuits
Your state’s insurance laws directly affect how you could recover compensation after a truck accident. They can also affect whether you can pursue a lawsuit against the at-fault party. All states follow either a fault-based or no-fault insurance system.
Most states, including Texas, follow the at-fault system for auto insurance claims. This system means the at-fault individual or entity and their insurer must compensate the other driver for their accident-related expenses up to the policy limits.
However, if you do not agree with the insurance payout or it does not sufficiently cover your expenses, you could file a lawsuit against the driver personally or the trucking company.
The no-fault system for auto insurance aims to reduce lawsuits following auto accidents. This system allows individuals to recover compensation from their insurance companies regardless of fault for the accident.
However, you can still pursue a lawsuit against the individual or their employer—contrary to popular belief that you cannot. Whether you can file suit depends on the severity of your injuries and how much your damages cost.
Can I Sue an Uninsured Truck Driver?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires truck drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance depending on their truck’s weight and the materials they transport:
- $300,000 for trucks under 10,001 pounds hauling nonhazardous materials
- $750,000 for trucks over 10,001 pounds hauling nonhazardous materials
- $1 million for private truck drivers and companies hauling oil
- $5 million for trucks hauling hazardous materials other than oil
Although the FMCSA requires drivers to have insurance, this regulation does not guarantee they will. In addition, while you can choose to file a lawsuit against the uninsured driver, you might face a challenge enforcing any judgment you receive.
Therefore, the best way to protect yourself against uninsured drivers might be to add or review your uninsured motorist coverage on your auto insurance policy.
How Much Compensation Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?
A commercial truck’s sheer size and weight can easily crush a passenger vehicle. As a result, even low-speed accidents can kill or maim a person. Therefore, you deserve compensation after an accident based on the severity of your injuries and the amount of economic and noneconomic damages you sustained.
In most cases, this amount will not exceed the trucker’s or trucking company’s insurance policy limits. Recoverable damages can include:
- Medical bills
- Lost income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage
Other damages may also be available to you. However, a truck accident lawyer can help you calculate your damages and negotiate with the insurance company to get you the maximum possible settlement.
Passenger Rights to Compensation
Passengers have the same rights to compensation as the drivers involved in the accident. So, if you were a passenger, you could file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance or sue them personally for the accident.
Who Do I Sue After a Truck Accident?
There may be multiple parties involved in a truck accident. Determining liability for your accident will help you build a winning case. Here are a few examples of responsible parties.
- Truck drivers: Driver fatigue, driving under the influence, speeding, and distracted driving are just a few examples of driver negligence that can cause truck accidents.
- Trucking companies: If the driver is a company employee (not an independent contractor), the trucking company might share liability in your accident.
- Cargo loaders: Improperly loaded cargo can cause truck drivers to lose control of the truck, tip, or roll over, causing deadly accidents.
- Truck manufacturers: Defective truck designs or parts like brakes, steering systems, and tires can also cause accidents.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you could hold one or more of the above parties liable for your accident. So, to prove liability, you must establish that the individual or entity owed you a duty of care, breached that duty of care, and you sustained compensable damages due to this breach.
Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer Before Filing a Lawsuit
Our truck accident lawyers at Trujillo & Sanchez, P.C. handle truck accident cases daily. We understand what it takes to win you fair compensation and can advise you on how to move forward with your claim. Call us today to schedule your free consultation.