How Trucking Companies Try to Avoid Liability
Commercial truck accidents have the potential to cause devastating injuries and damage. After a crash, victims rely on the law that gives them the right to seek compensation from any negligent parties. If a truck driver’s negligence caused the crash, the victim may also hold the company that employs the driver liable for any losses.
Filing a claim against the trucking company can often greatly improve the chances of a victim actually receiving any settlement or award, because the company likely has more assets and carries more insurance coverage than the driver. Trucking companies generally will do anything in their power to avoid liability for a truck accident, however, making the promise of a settlement or award in this situation difficult to obtain.
The following are only some of many tactics that trucking companies use to avoid paying victims for their losses—and how an experienced lawyer can help you recover compensation.
Deny Employment of the Driver
The law holds employers liable for harm caused by the negligence of their employees. The company itself does not have to be negligent in any manner—instead, the law requires the following:
- The negligent party was an employee of the company
- The employee caused the harm during the course of employment (while on the job)
Since truck drivers are undoubtedly working while they are driving their semi-trucks, that generally satisfies the second requirement. Therefore, some trucking companies try to refute the first requirement by claiming that the truck driver was an independent contractor instead of an employee.
While many truck drivers are independent contractors, others are employed by a single company. A company cannot simply claim that a driver is an independent contractor—the law provides a specific analysis to determine employment status. Our attorneys can identify when a driver truly was an employee and work to hold the company liable.
Point Fingers in Another Direction
Many different parties can cause truck accidents—not just truck drivers or trucking companies. Manufacturers, cargo-loaders, third party maintenance crews, and drivers of other vehicles may all also share the blame. Some trucking companies will simply try to place blame on other parties to deny liability for themselves. You always need a law firm that can investigate the true cause of an accident and obtain enough evidence to prove whether a trucking company or driver was actually the liable party. Despite the company’s denial, such evidence can prove its liability in an insurance claim or in a civil personal injury claim.
Deny the Accident Caused the Victim’s Injuries
A truck accident victim must prove these four major elements of negligence to recover compensation:
- A party had a duty of care in regard to the victim
- That party breached that duty
- The breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries
- The victim suffered damages as a result
In some cases, a trucking company may fully admit that the company or its driver breached a duty of care that resulted in a crash. However, the company may claim that the third element is not satisfied because the crash did not cause the victim’s injuries. Often, a defendant such as a trucking company will claim that a plaintiff already had the injury before the accident and is now trying to wrongfully obtain compensation by asserting that the injury was a result of the crash.
Our law firm knows how to use medical records from before and just after the truck accident to prove that negligence caused the injury. Even if you had a preexisting condition, you still deserve to recover compensation if the truck accident worsened the condition. For example, imagine you hurt your back moving furniture six weeks before the accident, and after a few weeks of treatments, you felt better and no longer needed to continue with physical therapy. All of a sudden, a truck crashes into your car, re-injuring your back. In this case, you would still have the right to compensation for all of your expenses after the accident, even though the initial injury occurred before the accident.
Question the Claimed Damages
Sometimes, a trucking company will admit that negligence caused the crash and the victim’s injuries, but the company will challenge the damages claimed by the victim. Accident victims cannot simply request random amounts of compensation—they must prove that their compensation demands are in line with the expenses they incurred as a result of the collisions. Some damages they can claim include:
- Medical bills stemming from past and future treatments (an experienced lawyer may estimate those future expenses)
- Lost wages if the victim had to miss work
- Lost future earning power if the victim cannot return to a previous job due to an injury
- A victim who filed a personal injury claim may also seek damages for noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering, permanent disabilities, lost enjoyment of life, and more
Defendants in truck accident cases can allege that the victim’s injuries are not as serious as claimed and did not result in such extensive losses. They can try to cast doubt on estimates of future losses or the calculation of noneconomic losses in attempts to limit their liabilities as much as possible. Our skilled truck accident lawyers can use experts to verify your claimed damages and provide evidence to prove the full amount you deserve.
Call for a Free Consultation With a St. Petersburg Truck Accident Lawyer
Trucking companies are aggressive adversaries in accident claims. The Dolman Law Group, however, has successfully represented many truck accident victims and is not intimidated by these defendants. We have the resources and skill to prove liability in your crash, as well as your losses. You need a law firm you can trust on your side throughout your case, so please contact us online or call (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free case evaluation today.