Every year, thousands of people are injured in truck accidents around the country. According to the National Highway Transit Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, there were 450,000 police-reported truck crashes in the United States. The NHTSA also reported 4,237 fatal crashes and 344,000 people injured in truck accidents for the same year around the country. Being involved in a truck accident can be one of the most traumatic experiences anyone can have. In such a situation, you may wonder who is liable for your losses. Fayetteville truck accident attorney Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, invites you to keep reading as we discuss whether you should sue the trucking company or the driver in Arkansas.
Who Can I Sue After a Truck Accident in Arkansas?
Determining who is liable after a truck accident can be challenging. This is especially true for accidents where there are multiple parties involved. You may wonder who can you sue after a truck accident. It is easy to feel lost, hopeless, and overwhelmed after a crash involving a large commercial truck. However, liability for truck accidents will depend on the particular circumstances surrounding your case.
For instance, there may be situations where you can sue the truck driver for the injuries and property damage they have caused. However, suing a truck driver may only be possible if they do not work directly for the trucking company; in other words, you may go directly against a truck driver who is an independent contractor. An independent contractor is a person who provides a service to a company or business entity but is not a direct employee of said company. Generally, independent contractors use their own equipment, establish their own working hours, and are not taxed in the same way as other employees.
This can pose a problem for those who were injured by a truck driver and want to go against the trucking company. Typically, you cannot file a lawsuit directly against a company for accidents caused by independent contractors. Many companies, including trucking companies, sub-contract their carrying services to avoid liability in case of an accident. Therefore, you may find a dead-end when trying to file a claim against a negligent driver’s employer.
You can file a lawsuit against a truck driver’s company if such a driver is a direct employee of the company they work for. This is the more straightforward approach for such a situation and should pose no further problems in terms of determining liability.
However, there are some instances where you can file a claim against a trucking company even if the truck driver is an independent contractor. Federal rules have established that trucking companies who have a trucking permit are liable for damages caused by truck drivers who advertise the company on their trucks. Federal regulations and laws have made it possible for truck accident victims to hold these trucking companies liable for the actions of their drivers.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents in Arkansas
Truck accidents happen more frequently than many people realize. The devastation and damage caused by these massive vehicles can change a person’s life forever. Many things can lead to truck accidents, but the following causes are among the most common in truck crashes:
Fatigue is one of the leading causes of truck accidents in the country. Many drivers are instructed by their employers to drive long hours with little rest to make a delivery on a tight schedule. The accumulation of all of these hours sitting behind the steering wheel can cause a driver to experience fatigue and possibly fall asleep while driving. Fatigued drivers can’t react to the things around them as they usually would, which can lead to accidents. The consequences of fatigued or drowsy driving can be catastrophic.
Distractions are everywhere, especially inside the cabin of a truck. Things like the driver’s GPS, cellphone, radio, and other electronic devices can be distracting. A distracted truck driver can become dangerous, especially because they are operating large, commercial trucks. A distracted driver can cause severe car crashes, motorcycle accidents, and life-threatening injuries.
Improper Truck Maintenance
Trucks have to travel great distances across the country to deliver all kinds of goods. As such, they need to go through proper maintenance to ensure the truck, its driver, and other motorists on the highway are safe. Improper truck maintenance can cause a number of problems on the road that can put the driver’s safety at risk and endanger those traveling close to him or her. The trucking company is responsible for ensuring all of their vehicles receive proper maintenance and are safe to operate.
Alcohol and Drugs
The use of alcohol and drugs has also caused many truck accidents. Driving under the influence (DUI) has been a significant concern for many years, despite stringent laws. Trucking companies are in charge of screening and recruiting drivers who can perform the job safely. They are also responsible for preventing truck drivers from operating their vehicles if they are under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect from My Case?
The amount of compensation you can expect from your case will depend on your specific circumstances. Before you are awarded compensation, you need to prove your case with the court. Personal injury claims are based on a negligence theory, requiring you to prove four elements in order to have a successful claim. For instance, you will need to show that the truck driver owed you a duty of care, which they breached, and that as a consequence, you suffered injuries. Once you have proven your case, the court may grant compensation for things such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. A Fayetteville AR personal injury lawyer can help you understand what can factor into your compensation for your case.
Truck Accident Attorney Handling Personal Injury Claims in Arkansas
If you or a loved one was injured in a truck accident, our Arkansas personal injury lawyers can help. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, can help you hold the liable parties accountable for all your losses. Thanks to many years of experience and dedication, Ken Kieklak is able to fight aggressively and strategically to get you the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call an Arkansas truck accident attorney today at (479) 316-0438.