In the wake of an 18 wheeler accident, an injury lawyer will work to ensure the victim gets the compensation they are owed. Commercial vehicles can cause a tremendous amount of damage to many cars at once, often leaving the victims in a badly injured state. These injuries can take months, even years to recover from, and some victims will never recover at all. Clearly, a commercial vehicle has the ability to change a victim’s life forever, so truck drivers must maintain control of their vehicle at all times. A small lapse in attention, a little fatigue, or a slight mistake in judgement can all lead to a deadly outcome.
The good news is that the number of commercial vehicle crashes has dropped significantly over the last 20 years. The bad news is that more than 100,000 people are still injured every year in these incidents. In 2012, more than 125,000 people in the U.S. were hurt in commercial vehicle crashes. Clearly, there is more to be done to prevent these terrifying wrecks.
WHO IS NORMALLY RESPONSIBLE WHEN AN 18 WHEELER ACCIDENT OCCURS?
A lawyer has a few options when putting together a case for a victim. It starts by identifying the liable parties involved in any crash. In the world of trucking, the legal concept of respondeat superior is an important one. Respondeat superior means that an employee acting on behalf of the business may not be liable for a wreck as long as they were acting within the scope of their employment at the time of the crash. Usually, the driver’s employer will have to provide restitution to the victim. An employer may attempt to label the driver as an independent contractor, as independent contractors are not protected under respondeat superior. However, there are usually telltale signs that a driver is actually an employee, and not an independent contractor, and a legal expert can readily discern these details. In short, if a driver doesn’t have control over their work schedule and is furnished a truck for their job, they are an employee.
Respondeat superior was created to protect victims, as companies typically have access to greater resources and can protect themselves better through insurance and a stronger financial base. So when a victim is hurt in a crash, they have a real chance of securing compensation. Of course, a driver may also share some of the liability, as well as maintenance personnel that did not maintain the vehicle properly, and the vehicle manufacturer itself should a mechanical failure be found.
The reason so many victims of an 18 wheeler accident choose a lawyer to represent them is due to the severity of these crashes. A victim’s injuries may leave them unable to work and force them to undergo a lengthy period of recovery. This is especially true if the victim has sustained a brain or spine injury. An 18 wheeler accident lawyer knows how to assess these complicated claims and ensure a victim gets their medical and other costs taken care of.