Accidents involving commercial trucks can be devastating; the victims may be left to face lifelong disabilities, or they may be killed. Because of the severity of the injuries and the substantial losses that truck accident victims often face, trucking carriers and their insurance companies aggressively defend against commercial truck accident lawsuits. Victims and the families of late victims can benefit substantially from the experience and expertise of a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer. Attorneys can often negotiate commercial truck accident settlements that are much more favorable than the settlements plaintiffs might have recovered on their own.
Cases involving commercial trucks can be highly complex and involve substantial amounts of money. Trucking carriers often have insurance with high policy limits. The insurance companies try to protect their bottom lines by vigorously defending against truck accident claims in order to minimize the amounts that they might be forced to pay. In order to obtain commercial truck accident settlements in amounts that sufficiently and fairly compensate the plaintiffs for their economic and noneconomic losses, experienced lawyers may work with investigators and experts to build strong cases that clearly show liability.
Liability in Truck Accident Cases
When truck accidents are caused by the negligence of the truck drivers, the companies for whom the drivers are working may be vicariously liable to pay damages under a legal principle called respondeat superior. Under this principle, employers are responsible to pay damages for the negligent actions of their employees when their employees cause injury to others while they are working within the course and scope of their jobs. When people file lawsuits against negligent drivers, they will also name their companies as defendants. In most cases, the trucking carriers are the parties that actually pay the settlements in truck accident cases. In addition to the drivers and their employers, several other parties may be liable for truck accidents, including the following:
- Parties who load the trucks
- Third-party companies that maintain or repair the trucks
- Truck leasing companies
- Entities that are responsible for maintaining and repairing the roads
- Manufacturers and designers of defective truck parts
Attorneys work to identify all of the potential defendants so that they may obtain maximal settlements for their clients.
Frequency of Commercial Truck Crashes
How often do these sorts of accidents occur? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that commercial trucks or buses were involved in 11.9 percent of the total number of fatal accidents that happened in 2015. Commercial trucks and buses were involved in 476,00 nonfatal accidents, which was 7.6 percent of the total during 2015. In Missouri, there were 109 deaths in large truck accidents for a fatality rate of 0.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.
Why Large Truck Crashes Are So Dangerous
Commercial trucks are allowed to weigh up to 80,000 pounds. They also have a much higher ground clearance, which means that passenger vehicles may slide underneath the trucks in accidents. Because of the significant difference in their weight and size as compared to passenger vehicles, the physical forces that are released in collisions with large trucks are much more severe. The substantial weight of large trucks also means that they must travel much further before they can come to a stop when the brakes are applied. This means that large trucks may have a harder time stopping in time before colliding with other vehicles, and they may be traveling faster than the smaller cars at the point of the collision.
Factors That May Affect the Total Settlement Amount
Accidents differ from one another, and so the amount of compensation received in commercial truck accident settlements varies from case to case. There are some factors that may lead to an increase or a decrease in the value of a claim, however. The type and severity of the injuries may act as a higher or lower multiplier. For example, when victims suffer severe injuries, such as fractures, traumatic brain injuries, permanent injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other similarly grave injuries with long recovery and treatment periods, the total settlement amounts are likely to be much higher. By contrast, people whose injuries are limited to soft tissue injuries with short recovery periods may expect smaller settlements.
The distribution of liability will also affect the total settlement amount. Missouri follows pure comparative negligence, which means that the total recoverable amount may be reduced by the percentage of fault that the victim had in the accident’s cause. For example, if a truck accident victim holds 20 percent of the fault and is awarded $1 million, he or she will receive a net amount of $800,000.
Contact an Experienced Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer
If you have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, or your loved one has been killed in a commercial truck accident, it is important for you to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer. To learn more about your rights, contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave today and schedule a free initial consultation to explore your options. We have successfully recovered compensation in commercial truck accident settlements with truck companies, which you can explore in more detail on our Verdicts and Settlements page. We can help you determine the best course of action so that you can obtain the maximum compensation you deserve and the best outcome for your claim.