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December 14, 2022

Who Can be Held Liable for Damage in a Truck Accident?

by Evan Breaux | Attorney | 0 comments
Injured in a truck accident

18-wheeler accidents often happen in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana. Truck drivers passing through our state may be extremely fatigued or distracted. Here, we break down who is liable for injured in a truck accident for damages. And why you should call Breaux Law Firm.

An 18-wheeler accident in New Orleans is frightening and stressful, with a tendency to cause significant property damage and personal injury to the people in the vehicle that is struck by the truck. But another stressful aspect is the question of liability and receiving compensation for the costs associated with your recovery. For those injured in a truck accident, the idea of engaging with the insurance company of a powerful corporation is daunting. Something we fully understand at Breaux Law Firm, having dealt with many of these insurance companies in the past.

We do not recommend going it alone when filing a claim against the insurance company of a commercial vehicle after a truck crash injury. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side is key to receiving fair compensation, and this article explains why.

Big Rig, 18-Wheeler, Truck: What is a Commercial Vehicle, Exactly?

According to the Louisiana Department of Public Safety Office of Motor Vehicles, a commercial vehicle is used on public highways for business use (though vehicles used for religious purposes are not considered commercial). And are subject to laws and regulations around their weight limit, the materials they are transporting, a number of passengers, and the driver’s working hours. This means big rigs, 18-wheelers, large trucks, small trucks, vans, and buses are all commercial vehicles.

Are Truck Drivers Responsible for Damages in Accidents?

The answer is usually yes. 18-wheeler accidents in Louisiana often occur due to truck driver fatigue and defective truck equipment. In both of these instances, the driver would be held legally responsible. The driver’s insurance company would cover the injured party’s costs.

Regarding driver fatigue, it’s common for truck drivers to work on little to no sleep, accepting long and grueling work hours in order to meet their deliveries.

Although there are laws in place to prevent drivers from being overworked or operating under unhealthy work conditions. It isn’t safe to assume that truck drivers obey these laws. Defective or malfunctioning equipment (including improperly loaded material or insecure connections) is incredibly dangerous for professional truck drivers. And those with whom they share the road.

While inspections are required both before the trip and after, even these can fall short, due to human or mechanical errors. In this case, either the truck driver, the team that loaded the vehicle, or the company that employs the driver (or the loading team) may share liability for damages caused by driving a vehicle with malfunctioning equipment. If an accident happens due to faulty equipment, it’s likely that the commercial insurance company will be held responsible for the damage caused. As well as also be responsible driver’s employer for the damage caused.

Other common causes of commercial vehicle accidents are:

  • Negligent driving by the driver of the truck, such as driver error, driver distraction, and drug or alcohol intoxication
  • Failure to follow commercial trucking rules, like speed limits
  • Blind spots, which occur when a truck is changing lanes or backing out of a spot and another vehicle is located in the driver’s blind spots; these are one of the most common causes of commercial vehicle accidents
  • Jackknifing, often caused by a truck driver breaking too hard, results in a big rig’s trailer spinning out from behind the cab and forming a 90-degree angle
  • Hazardous or difficult road conditions, which include wide turns, tire blowouts, ice, sleet, rain 

What Happens When a Truck Driver has an Accident

Because trucks often weigh 20-30 times more than the typical vehicle, an 18-wheeler accident in New Orleans tends to be more dangerous, more deadly, and result in a more costly recovery. A truck crash injury is often quite severe. For that reason, one of the most important things to know about insurance coverage. When you are injured in a truck accident, is that you should turn to an experienced personal injury attorney to help you file a claim.

Are truck drivers responsible for damages in accidents? Yes. Whether the truck driver was disobeying the law by working an unsafe or illegal number of hours in a row. Knowingly navigating the roads while experiencing fatigue or other unhealthy conditions. Or making a common error leads to any type of negligence. All the responsibility generally falls to the driver, the transportation company that employs the driver, and the insurance company. They share responsibility. Typically, these companies will have a very large commercial auto insurance policy covering their trucks in Louisiana.

After a commercial vehicle accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company (hired by the company that employs the truck driver) will have insurance adjusters investigate the incident. They will look for ways to avoid liability and avoid reimbursing money to the injured parties. Even more when, due to the severity of a typical truck accident, the damages are in the millions of dollars.

The truck driver’s insurance adjuster will look for ways to decrease the blame of their driver or blame the other drivers involved in the accident. The truck driver’s insurance company will often try to deny or reduce the claim. Even they will offer a quick, small sum of money in exchange for a release of liability. Thus ensuring that the injured party can never request additional reimbursement or file a suit. Even if their injuries become significantly more expensive with the time. A trucking and commercial transportation company will also hire its own lawyers. Who work solely to reduce liability on their end.

What to Do After an Accident with a Commercial Vehicle

For all of these reasons outlined above, it’s highly necessary for someone who finds themselves involved in an accident with a commercial truck to talk to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Lawyers like the team at Breaux Law Firm are well versed in the ins and outs of commercial vehicle accidents. We know how to deal with the insurance companies of transportation corporations and other powerful companies. If you need help filing a claim, understanding liability, or simply fighting for your rights, don’t do it alone! We’re here to help you, each step of the way.

Surveying the extent of the damage and understanding how the accident occurred. Here is one of the first things a personal injury attorney will do when determining fault. Medical bills, Police reports, Vehicle damage reports, eyewitness accounts, and any photographic or video evidence will help your attorneys to better represent your case. A personal injury lawyer knows to review the truck’s black box. Also Know the driver’s mobile phone records and past driving history, and vehicle inspections.

In short, after being injured in a truck accident, having a personal injury lawyer, like the team at Breaux Law Firm. They can help you recover fully and receive sufficient compensation for your past and future pain and damages. A truck driver accident is much more serious than an accident between personal vehicles. Reach out to our team at Breaux Law Firm as soon as possible for a free consultation. And discuss your truck accident and how we can help you on your road to physical, emotional, and financial recovery.

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