Semi trucks are massive, heavy vehicles that can cause serious damage in the event of an accident. Being involved in a crash with a semi is often a traumatic experience.
Due to the serious injuries that are often involved, victims of truck accidents often wonder if they can sue after being hit by a semi truck. The answer to this question is generally “yes,” but it depends on your unique situation.
Generally, a few conditions must be met for you to have a viable truck accident lawsuit:
- The semi truck driver and/or another party was responsible for the accident
- You suffered serious injuries in the accident
- Your injuries resulted in damages
An experienced semi truck accident injury lawyer at Colombo Law can review your legal options and advise you what your claim may be worth. Our attorneys serve clients throughout West Virginia.
Keep reading to find out when you might have a claim after being injured in a semi truck accident:
The Semi Truck Driver Caused the Accident
The first question to answer when considering a truck accident lawsuit: Who was at fault? If the truck driver was at fault, you may have a case.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for truck drivers to cause accidents. Some of the most common examples of negligence that lead to semi crashes include:
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Distracted driving
- Road rage or aggressive driving
Your lawyer will fully investigate the accident to determine if the truck driver was engaging in any kind of reckless behavior. If the driver was careless behind the wheel and caused the accident, he or she can be held liable for the injuries and subsequent damages you suffer.
Additional Parties May Be At Fault
The negligence of other parties may also be a factor in a semi truck accident – even if the truck driver is the one who actually caused the accident.
For example, in the case of a truck driver falling asleep at the wheel, your lawyer may uncover evidence that the trucking company routinely forced its drivers to stay on the road longer than they are legally allowed. If this is the case, the trucking company may also be liable for the accident.
Trucking companies also have a responsibility to perform thorough background checks to ensure drivers have a good safety record. If the truck driver had a history of drug and alcohol abuse but the trucking company hired him or her anyway, it could be grounds for suing the trucking company.
In addition, truck parts manufacturers, loading companies, and other parties all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of trucks on the road. If they fail to do so, they may also be held responsible for accidents that occur as a result of their negligence.
You Suffer Serious Injuries in the Truck Accident
The second condition for being able to sue is if you suffered injuries in the accident. Because semi trucks are so much larger and heavier than passenger vehicles, accidents with 18-wheelers often cause serious injuries that are expensive to treat and may permanently alter a victim’s life.
In these situations, there is a lot at stake, including a lot of money. Truck accident victims have to deal not only with the physical and emotional ramifications of serious injuries but medical bills, an inability to work, and other life-altering consequences.
In these situations, the law allows accident victims to pursue compensation against the negligent party (or parties) that caused their injuries. It is in your best interest to contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to start building your case.
Your Truck Accident Injuries Result in Damages
Damages refers to the expenses related to your injuries as well as the other negative effects of the accident. Non-economic losses, including the pain and suffering and ongoing emotional anguish you experience as a result of the accident, are also compensable damages.
For many, the effects of serious truck accidents are life-altering. You may no longer be able to enjoy the things you used to enjoy, and it may affect your career, your relationships with loved ones, and more.
Accident victims can pursue compensation for all of these damages under the law.
You may also be awarded punitive damages, which are intended to punish the negligent party for their actions. However, punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the court determines that the defendant acted “with actual malice toward the plaintiff or a conscious, reckless and outrageous indifference to the health, safety and welfare of others” (per the West Virginia Code).
You May Not Need to Sue
It is important to understand that you may not need to sue to recover compensation for damages. Generally, before a lawsuit is considered, your lawyer will negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf in an attempt to settle the case out of court.
Settlements take less time and are less expensive than going to court. It is generally in the best interest of all parties in the case to reach a fair settlement without going to trial
That said, insurance companies are not quick to pay out fair amounts of compensation. If your lawyer is unable to reach a fair settlement on your behalf, it may be time to file suit against those responsible.
Contact a Semi Truck Accident Injury Lawyer
Whether your case is settled out of court or requires a lawsuit, working with a qualified truck accident attorney is crucial for recovering the compensation you need and deserve. Investigating your case, gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, negotiating with insurance companies, and everything else that comes with a truck accident claim is technical, difficult work – especially if you are in the process of healing from your injuries and dealing with other repercussions of the accident.
At Colombo Law, we focus an extensive portion of our practice on truck accident litigation. We have achieved significant recoveries for our clients, and we handle each case with compassion and hands-on attention.
For a free consultation, please call Colombo Law at (304) 599-4229 today. Our semi truck accident injury lawyers serve clients in Morgantown and throughout West Virginia.