If you were involved in a truck accident, you could face serious injuries. Trucks can weigh around 28-times the weight of a small sedan, potentially causing serious injury to drivers and occupants of cars and SUVs during truck accidents. While you may be able to sue the truck driver directly for the accident, they may not be able to afford the damages you faced. Fortunately, Arkansas law allows you to sue trucking companies in many truck accident cases. Fayetteville, AR truck accident lawyer Ken Kieklak explains.
Grounds to Sue a Trucking Company for Injuries in a Truck Accident
Arkansas, like many states, has laws for “vicarious liability.” Under a rule known as “respondeat superior,” you can usually take an employer to court for mistakes that their employees make on the job. This means that if you were injured by a truck driver, you can typically take the trucking company to court to respond for their employee’s negligence, but you may also be able to sue the trucking company directly for their own mistakes.
Suing Trucking Companies for Truck Driver Negligence
If you were injured because a truck driver was negligent and caused your truck accident, you may be able to sue the driver directly. However, truck drivers’ salaries are not often enough to cover serious, life-altering injuries like brain trauma or spinal cord injury. Instead, you might need to include their trucking company in the lawsuit to get full compensation.
Arkansas law allows you to sue an employer if their employee injured you while they were in the course of doing something foreseeable that benefitted their employer. Since trucking companies hire their drivers specifically to operate their vehicles and deliver freight, it is foreseeable that driving mistakes may be made, and these kinds of accidents fall squarely within the scope of the driver’s duties. This typically means that, as long as the injuries occurred when the truck driver was on duty, you can sue their employer as well.
Things may be more complex if the driver is an independent contractor instead of an employee, but your Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer can help advise you on these kinds of cases.
Suing a Trucking Company for Dangerous Vehicles
Many trucking companies own the vehicles that their drivers use. In many cases, they are directly responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of these vehicles, so any problems with the equipment should be their direct fault. There are federal regulations in place requiring special inspections for tires and other equipment on trucks, and many of these laws force trucking companies to provide certain levels of safety in their vehicles. If they fail to do so, and those errors cause your injuries, they should be held responsible.
This can typically give you the right to sue a trucking company for 18-wheeler accidents caused by exploding tires, improperly loaded cargo, leaking tanker trucks, or other problems with the vehicle. If this does not work, you may be able to sue them vicariously as the owner of the vehicle.
If the driver is an owner-operator or an independent contractor using a vehicle owned by someone other than the trucking company, this may block the trucking company’s liability.
Suing a Trucking Company for Negligent Hiring
When the trucking company hires a new driver, they are responsible for putting that individual behind the wheel of the truck. “How’s My Driving” phone numbers on the back of trucks are designed to help trucking companies get reports of bad drivers so that they can fire or retrain them and protect themselves from liability for hiring a dangerous driver before an accident happens.
If the trucking company hires a driver with a bad history of DUI, traffic offenses, dangerous driving, or accidents, they should be held liable for any further accidents the driver causes. This record puts them on notice that the driver is dangerous, and hiring them anyway would be negligent.
The same is true for negligent “retention” of an employee. If a driver makes serious mistakes while working for the trucking company, but they decide to keep the driver employed there, they are generally liable for further mistakes. If the driver causes accidents, gets tickets for dangerous driving, or gets arrested for DUI while working for the trucking company, it is their duty to dismiss them, and they should be directly liable for injuries that result from their failure to do so.
Suing the Trucking Company’s Insurance
Even if the trucking company cannot be sued as part of your lawsuit, their insurance may still cover the driver. This means that you can still often get compensation through the trucking company’s insurance policy. To maximize the insurance you are entitled to, you may need to file a lawsuit instead of filing an insurance claim. Insurance companies may offer low settlements or eliminate damages such as pain and suffering damages from their claims, but you may still be able to claim these damages in court.
Fayetteville, Arkansas Truck Accident Lawyer Offering Free Legal Consultations
If you or a family member was injured in a truck crash or you lost a family member to wrongful death in a deadly truck accident, call Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, today. Our Fayetteville personal injury lawyer may be able to take your case and work to maximize your compensation by suing the truck driver and the trucking company, fighting to get their insurance company to cover your injuries, and working to get compensation for your injuries. For a free legal consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 316-0438.