Given their sheer size and the speed at which they usually travel, semi-trucks can leave devastation in their wake when involved in an accident. Victims of these wrecks usually end up suffering serious harm as a result. Their injuries might impose severe physical restrictions on them, while the physical and emotional toll may be unbearable. The financial damages can be overwhelming, too, threatening financial ruin.
Of course, these damages may be recoverable through a personal injury lawsuit, but in order to be successful in recovering the full extent of your damages, you’re probably going to have to know how to sue a trucker’s employer.
You can sue a negligent trucker who caused an accident that left you injured, but that individual probably won’t have the resources that you need to fully compensation you for your damages. However, if the trucker was on the clock and performing his or her job duties at the time of the wreck, then you can probably pursue a vicarious liability lawsuit against the truck company that employed him or her. This is because vicarious liability allows victims to recover compensation from employers who are responsible for their employee’s actions. This might allow you to reach a deeper pool of resources and more fully cover your damages.
Defenses to vicarious liability
Just like other personal injury lawsuits, though, nothing is guaranteed in a vicarious liability claim. In fact, truck companies and their insurers often present aggressive defenses in hopes of escaping liability. Here are some of those defenses that you’ll want to anticipate and be prepared to counter:
- Comparative negligence: Under comparative negligence laws in Massachusetts, your damages award can be reduced by your allocation of fault. Generally, though, if you’re found to be 51% or more at fault, then you won’t be allowed to recover any damages. So carefully consider your actions and how they played a role in the accident, if they did at all.
- Frolic and detour: In this common defense, a truck company argues that the trucker who caused the accident was operating outside the scope of his or her employment, and therefore the truck company should not be held liable. This can include texting and driving, running personal errands in the company vehicle, and taking unapproved detours.
- Another party is responsible: Truck accidents can be complicated, especially when multiple vehicles are involved. In these wrecks, a truck company might try to shift the blame to a third-party to try to avoid liability.
Building your case
As you anticipate potential defenses, there are things that you can do to hopefully solidify your case. Using accident reconstruction may help address comparative and third-party negligence, and trucking logs and witness accounts might reduce the risk of being defeated by a frolic and detour argument. But you have to be thorough. You have to speak to witnesses, depose those who may testify, and gather documentation that both supports and attacks your claim. You need to know the law as well as the rules of evidence and how to utilize all of it to your advantage. Jury selection might become important, but so, too, are negotiation and litigation strategies.
In other words, if you want to maximize your chances of success, then you need to have legal knowhow. That might sound daunting, but you certainly don’t have to go up against aggressive insurance companies on your own. Instead, you can seek assistance from a skilled personal injury firm that will know how to build your case from the ground up and fight for what you deserve.