Getting into an accident with another vehicle is a serious matter than can lead to huge medical expenses if you have severe injuries. One of the worst possible situations is to have an accident with a so-called "big rig", or semi-truck. These extremely large vehicles can do a lot of damage to a passenger car and its occupants. Here is a closer look at your legal options if you are injured in an accident with one of these huge machines.
Do You Have a Case?
If you have sustained injuries in a truck accident, the next thing you need to determine is whether you have a legal case. This depends mainly on two things: who was at fault for the crash and how your state laws decide legal responsibility for accidents.
In some states, if you had any responsibility for what happened at all, you cannot proceed with a lawsuit against the other driver or the trucking company. So in these states, even if the accident was primarily the fault of the truck, you have no case if you were at fault in a way whatsoever. Fortunately, only a few states follow this rule.
Most state laws allow you to recover damages for your injuries even if you bear some responsibility for the crash, within certain limitations depending on the specific statute.
Federal law for Truckers
Truckers operate under a different set of regulations than drivers of passenger cars. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sets limits on how often truckers may drive and how many consecutive hours they may drive. It also requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break at least once every 8 hours. If you can show that the trucker involved in your accident broke one or more of these regulations it will likely strengthen your case.
Who to Pursue
You will, of course, attempt to collect compensation for your injuries from the driver and if they are an owner-operator or independent contractor, you may not have any other entities to pursue. If the driver is working for a trucking company, then you will almost certainly seek damages from that business as well.
Keep in mind that some trucking companies may improperly classify truckers as independent contractors so they can avoid liability for accidents caused by their drivers. A lawyer specializing in truck accidents can help you with this issue if and when it arises. To learn more about this topic, contact an accident attorney near you.