Surviving a truck accident can result in life-altering outcomes for you, especially if you suffer serious personal injuries. Subsequently, your expenses may increase, and your lifestyle can become challenging as you adapt to the different body abilities. Having faced many possible challenges, you want to seek compensation for the harm and losses by pursuing legal action against the negligent party.

If your case involves a negligent truck company, you should understand the crucial steps to building a strong case against them. Working with a personal injury attorney is among the best options to help you with this, as they have experience in the field. At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, you will work with skilled attorneys who prioritize your case. Thanks to the dedication put into your matter; you have better chances of receiving a favorable outcome and having the truck company compensate you.

Can You Sue a Truck Company?

After a truck accident, pursuing legal action against the responsible party, including a truck company, is acceptable. However, you need to establish a solid basis for your lawsuit and link it to the personal injuries and financial losses you suffered. Hence, verifying your reasons for seeking compensation with your attorney’s help is helpful, as it will provide information on how to structure your arguments.

Usually, personal injury lawsuits encompass elements of negligence, meaning that the responsible party in question did not meet their legal duty of care. Some cases may involve the truck company acting negligently through their direct decisions.

Conversely, other cases apply vicarious liability claims, whereby you will still sue the truck company for their employee’s actions. These legal principles include multiple elements, so you want to understand your case facts and their applicability in a suit.

Suing Under Vicarious Liability Claims

Vicarious liability is a legal principle under torts whereby an employer is legally answerable for their employee’s actions. Therefore, you may hold a truck company liable in a compensatory lawsuit if one of their drivers was the direct cause of your injuries.

Although vicarious liability is accepted, you need to be specific about the driver’s actions or omissions resulting in the truck accident. Doing so is crucial because the truck company can only answer for an employee’s actions if the employee is within the scope of employment.

Hence, your injury attorney will research the circumstances surrounding your accident to determine whether the driver was working under a contract when the accident occurred. If not, they would be personally liable, meaning you cannot sue the trucking company as a primary respondent.

Circumstances Leading to a Rightful Lawsuit Under Vicarious Liability

Upon deciding to seek compensation through a vicarious liability claim, you should learn of the critical factors to establish for increased chances of a successful case outcome. These include circumstances within the employment scope and the driver’s actions. Some elements to establish beforehand include:

1. Whether There Was an Existing Employment Contract

Firstly, your attorney must prove that the driver who caused your accident was working under a valid employment contract. The information is essential in proving that the scope of employment was present, meaning that the truck company was answerable for emerging legal issues.

Your injury attorney can gather the required evidence by contacting the company and requesting a copy of the signed employment contract. Thanks to this document, they will have sufficient information to convince the presiding judge about the truck company’s responsibility in the matter.

If you obtain the employment contract, run it with your legal team as due diligence. They will assess it to ensure you obtained a valid copy and prevent any forgery claims in court. This is because while the respondents may have issued the contract, they are also keen on defending their case through various argumentation tactics.

2. Whether the Driver was Working Within the Contracted Hours

Moreover, proving that the driver who caused the accident was within the required working hours is important because it further shows they were within their employment scope. Therefore, your attorney can request information on the required working hours or obtain it from the employment agreement you will have retrieved.

Commercial drivers should also work under a schedule and take regular breaks to avoid driving fatigue. Hence, the company may inform you that the driver was working beyond their driving schedule, meaning they were outside the employment scope. If so, you can consult your attorney on whether to consider suing the driver separately instead of the company as a whole.

3. Whether the Driver was Within the Required Route

Furthermore, truck drivers should stick to the designated route to fulfill their employment requirements. Hence, you also want to consider this fact when investigating the truck driver’s actions, as they may have breached employment terms.

However, you want to conduct the investigation thoroughly as the truck company may have authorized a different route and later denied it. Working with an experienced legal team will help you uncover the essential facts to ensure you have sufficient details to rely on.

4. Whether the Truck Company was Aware of the Driver’s Actions

Some vicarious liability cases may still hold an employer liable for the employee’s actions even if they acted beyond the employment scope. The circumstances arise if the employer was aware of the employee’s actions but failed to take active steps to stop or prevent them in the future.

Thus, if your attorney can prove that the truck company could trace the driver’s actions, like overspeeding or diverting from the correct route but still failing to stop it, they ought to be liable for your personal injury claims. If not, the court may authorize your request to have the truck company join the suit as a second respondent. Hence, they are still answerable for the harm you suffered.

Suing the Truck Company Under a Negligence Claim

Alternatively, you can sue the truck company directly based on their negligence. In this case, your main case is that the truck company failed to adhere to the duties of care owed to you, resulting in your losses.

Civil claims under negligence require you to source sufficient evidence and prepare a strong case because a successful claim must encompass all elements of negligence. By consulting your attorney, you will understand how to link the factors associated with negligence and apply them in your case.

The following are the four elements of negligence that must be present in a successful personal injury claim:

The Truck Company Had a Duty of Care to Fulfill

The primary duty of a truck company is to ensure that its drivers follow all safety rules while on the road. Apart from that, the company should ensure that all trucks are up to date with maintenance and that all unworthy road trucks are off the transit list. Overall, general safety should be the truck company’s priority and will form the basis of your legal expectations.

A duty of care does not necessarily have to arise from statutory laws because they may not be continuously updated. Hence, you can rightfully include a duty of care from general practice in the truck industry and hold the truck company accountable for failure to observe it.

When presenting the duty of care, your attorney should highlight the specific aspect of the duty that you reasonably expected the company to uphold. Doing so will help you avoid deviating from the issue, linking your injuries and losses to the company.

For example, if the truck company has a duty of care to conduct regular competence tests on their employees, you should show the importance of upholding road safety. Therefore, your argument will align with the duties they ought to have conducted.

The Company Breached the Duty

Secondly, you must establish that the truck company breached its duty of care, resulting in the accident. Proving this element is pivotal to your case, as it shows the specific actions that led to the truck accident and, subsequently, your injuries. Establishing that a breach occurred equally requires you to source as much evidence as possible to show the company’s negligence, as they will possibly deny the claims in the absence of proof.

Hence, working with your personal injury lawyer to show how a breach occurred requires your direct involvement to supplement the information the legal team collects. For example, you may claim that the company breached its duty to ensure that all its drivers are competent. If so, obtaining documentary evidence, witness testimonies, or reports to support your claim is essential.

Similarly, an accident expert's testimony can prove claims of a failure to ensure that all trucks are roadworthy. Having the expert assess the truck after the accident to determine whether any mechanical failures occurred will show a breach of duty by the company and increase your credibility.

This is because expert evidence is precious in courts, provided the witness testifies under oath. Their input is also objective, making it difficult for the respondents to counter it quickly. Overall, proving that the company had a breach of duty may be tasking, depending on your access to information. Nevertheless, your attorney will do their best to engage the right people and obtain the details on your behalf.

Accident Causation was From the Breach of Duty

Additionally, you want to link the breach of duty to the truck accident and how it affected you. Therefore, you need to present proof of causation, whereby your attorney will provide details and proof of the direct impact of the company’s breach.

Among the best structures to apply when preparing arguments on causation is asking yourself whether the accident would have occurred if the company had not breached its duties. This will help you link them to the aftermath, making them answerable for the effects you suffered.

For example, if the truck in question had brake failure that caused the incident, you can show that the incident was avoidable if the company had conducted the correct checks. Similarly, the company’s failure to track its drivers may have caused a rogue driver to operate on unsuitable routes, resulting in a collision. Proving this shows that the company’s actions or omissions are directly to blame for the truck accident.

The rules for proving causation are straightforward, except where your case involves multiple liable parties. For example, the company may have breached its duties, but a third-party driver may be the primary accident cause.

 If so, your lawyer will help you determine whether the truck company should be the primary respondent or if the third party is better suited based on their actions. Nonetheless, proving that a breach occurred will help you establish the causation element quickly, regardless of the external factors in multiple liability cases.

You Suffered Damages From the Accident

Lastly, the court is also interested in learning about the harm you suffered directly from the accident. Thus, you want to include the damage arising directly from the accident. Each case presents different factors, meaning that you want to be specific and present only genuine cases.

Upon preparing a list of all the damages from the truck accident, you should request your attorney for assistance with sourcing proof to support the claims. Doing so will strengthen your case and raise your chances of receiving the specific amount you request from the court.

Claims to Include in Your Compensatory Case

When presenting the losses from the truck accident, you should factor in all expenses and personal harm you have endured since the incident. This way, you will ensure that the truck company provides sufficient compensation if the court rules in your favor.

Choosing claims that have genuinely affected your life negatively is advisable because exaggerating costs may discourage the presiding judge from fulfilling all your claims. Discussing your options with your attorney before filing your statement of claim is the best approach. Some commonly accepted claims are:

Medical Expenses

Usually, truck accident victims are in serious need of medical attention immediately after the impact occurs. Treatment procedures include emergency operations, medication, imaging, and reconstructive surgery. Moreover, you may incur fees to cover paramedic fees and emergency room(ER) treatment.

Further, you may receive prescription medication to combat the pain and exposure to infection that you may be at risk for, adding to the total expenses. In-patient treatment is expensive if you lack medical insurance and will cost you a lot, even when insurance covers a percentage of the bill.

You will also incur medical costs even if you did not suffer serious injuries. You still require a check-up to ensure you do not have internal bleeding or other underlying medical threats. Additionally, you may need therapy to help you overcome the mental trauma from the accident, adding up to extra costs.

Consequently, the truck company should know the expenses leading up to the total fee. You can provide this information by tabulating each medical procedure and its cost in your statement of claim. You should also include future medical expense estimates if your treatment is likely to continue for extended durations.

Loss of Wages and Earning Capacity

Truck accident victims sustain severe personal injuries that prevent them from working for an unspecified duration or even for the rest of their lives. For example, serious injuries may cause paralysis, amputations, or brain damage, incapacitating you for the rest of your life.

Subsequently, claims for loss of wages and earning capacity are rightful to help you sustain your livelihood and dependents, if any. Although most accident victims’ injuries have an apparent effect on them, proving that you cannot work for extended durations is still necessary for court. The information will help the judge determine a suitable amount to issue that will help you sustain a comfortable life until you are ready to return to work.

Pain and Suffering

The court also considers the pain and suffering you faced from the accident and makes provisions for the truck company to compensate you for the experience. Both physical and emotional suffering is applicable when gauging an appropriate amount to award.

However, the judge retains discretion over how much money to award you, depending on the intensity of your experience. Therefore, if possible, you want to accurately describe your pain and suffering and have a doctor support your claims.

Contact a Orange County Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Doubtless, life after a truck accident can change your life significantly. You may have to deal with the outcomes after sustaining personal injuries and other emerging expenses. Therefore, you will need legal support to help you seek compensation against the responsible party. A skilled and dedicated legal team working with you is highly beneficial because the respondents will fight the accusations by raising solid defenses.

At Orange County Personal Injury Attorney, we dedicate our services to helping you build a credible case against a truck company. We understand the importance of credible sourcing evidence and are ready to represent you in court during the proceedings. If you or a loved one needs additional information on suing a trucking company after an accident, contact us at 714-876-1959.