Semitrailers play an important role in commerce in the United States and it is not unusual to find yourself sharing the road with one of these vehicles. However, semi-trucks require carefully handling. Semi drivers must obtain a special driver’s license and must comply with federal rules covering how long they can drive before taking a rest break. Nevertheless, some truck drivers will ignore these rules or will ignore other traffic rules and regulations, leading to a commercial vehicle accident.
The statistics surrounding truck accidents are concerning. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, fatal truck accidents lead to over 4,000 deaths in 2019. Of these fatalities, 67% were occupants of a passenger vehicle and 15% were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists. The number of truck accident fatalities rose 31% in 2019 compared to the number of fatalities in 2009.
What if I’m involved in a truck accident?
If you are struck by a semi-truck and are lucky enough to survive the encounter you still could be left with catastrophic injuries, leading to damages such as medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering. You may want to seek compensation for the damages you suffered. If so, you will want to make sure you pursue recovery from all responsible parties.
While the truck driver may be responsible for the crash, under certain circumstances you may also be able to hold the truck company responsible for the crash as well. This is due to a legal concept called “respondeat superior.” Under respondeat superior an employer is responsible for the actions of its employees if an incident occurs during the scope of the employee’s employment. Note that respondeat superior does not apply to independent contractors. So, it is important to determine if a trucker is an employee of the truck company or is an independent contractor if you are pursuing a legal claim following a truck accident.
Commercial vehicle accidents can be physically, mentally and financially devastating. Many truck accident victims choose to seek compensation following the crash. It is important that you understand all your rights and options should you pursue a personal injury lawsuit, so you can make informed decisions.