Accidents happen to even the most experienced drivers. However, not all accidents are created equal. If you have been hit and injured by a semi-truck driver, you may think the claims process is the same as if you were hit by another car. But that is not necessarily true: since semi-trucks are commercial vehicles, making a claim for compensation can be a bit more challenging.
The Basic Difference Between Car and Truck Accidents
Perhaps needless to say, there’s a big difference in scale: while many car-on-car accidents do not result in serious harm or damage, the sheer size, weight, and power of semi-trucks drastically increase the chance of injury.
After all, a fully loaded semi-truck and trailer can weigh thousands of pounds—some carriers may regularly haul loads over 15 tons! When a vehicle is that heavy, it will not only generate more force in a collision, but the increased distance needed to successfully brake can make it much harder for the driver to avoid a crash.
Personal injury attorneys often observe that semi-truck-crash victims experience severe injuries with greater regularity than people who have been involved in car-on-car crashes. They may have catastrophic brain damage, high-degree burns, or even require amputation of a limb.
When someone gets hurt that badly, they need more money to recover and—hopefully—resume ordinary life.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim After a Truck Accident
If the accident was caused by the truck driver’s negligence, then you may be able to hold them personally liable for your damages.
However, you may also be able to initiate a claim against the driver’s employer, which likely has more financial resources to offer your recovery. In Missouri, people can sue a worker’s boss through respondeat superior, a sort of legal doctrine whereby employers are liable for their employees’ negligence. People can also file a lawsuit against the employer alleging direct negligence through improper training, retention, or failure to comply with federal commercial motor vehicle laws.
Oftentimes, both the employer and employee may be responsible for an accident: the driver could have been tired, and they may have only been tired because their employer pushed them past their limits.
In some instances, such as when a failed vehicle component contributed to an accident, you may be able to hold the manufacturer of a part liable for damages, too.
How an Attorney Can Help
Since a personal injury lawsuit may involve multiple defendants, preparing a solid case can take a lot of work. You will need to collect a variety of evidence showing that both the driver and the company were negligent. This may include:
- Crash-scene evidence, including photographs of any damage or injuries
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance camera footage
- Medical records and doctor’s orders
- The company’s personnel files and safety records
- Vehicle maintenance history
A truck accident lawyer can help you gather this evidence, all while forming a compelling argument to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
However, the trucking company will undoubtedly have its own lawyers, too—many of whom specialize in accident-related lawsuits. They will try every trick they can to either reduce the company’s liability or eliminate it outright.
If you are taking on a trucking company’s lawyers, it makes sense to have good counsel by your side, too.