The Potential High Value of Tractor Trailer Accident Claim
Vehicle accidents involving tractor-trailers are among the most serious crashes on U.S. highways. Even when only two vehicles are involved there are frequent fatalities, not to mention the very serious injuries many passengers and other drivers suffer. There are no other vehicles on the roadways quite the size of big-rigs or other commercial box trailers, meaning that all vehicles on the highway are vulnerable when tractor trailers are a component of any accident. While many accidents are caused directly by 18-wheeler operators, there may also be other factors in an accident that can make it particularly valuable for those who are attempting to recover equitable damages as a result of a crash with these behemoths. An experienced truck accident lawyer understands this claim potential well, and they will always perform due diligence during an investigation for multiple negligent actors.
Tractor Trailer Owner Operator Negligence
Big commercial vehicles are not always the property of the transportation company that has ultimately attempted to deliver cargo. Many times shipping companies sign leases with big-rig owner-operators who then pick up and deliver the products. This means that the truck owner is responsible for maintaining a commercial vehicle in many instances, and failure to maintain the vehicle to its best operating condition could easily establish a failure to provide a reasonable duty of care regarding other vehicles on the roadways. They are also required to conduct proper equipment checks and inspections of the truck. In addition, they are also required to operate according to the rules of the road, and any citation issued prior to or following an accident can be solid evidence of negligence, including impaired driving.
Transportation Company Negligence
The shipping company connected to a truck operator is always a potential negligent actor when an accident is unraveled because of the vertical command structure they hold from both lease contracts and driver employment. If the rig is owned by the company and the driver is an employee, the driver may be operating negligently under direct responsibility to company requirements and job responsibilities. This can include the number of hours driving in an 18-hour cycle or a 30-day overall cycle, including maintaining accurate logs of stops. Many companies do not monitor their drivers by satellite or control speeds of the vehicles, meaning that the driver is free to drive beyond the speed limit or drive longer that NHTSA regulations allow. In addition, the companies contracting to have the product shipped can also be liable when they have purposely overloaded a container and have not communicated the situation. All three of these commercial entities could be liable in any truck accident when an aggressive truck accident lawyer can uncover substantial evidence proving negligence, or even gross negligence.
Additional Punitive Damages
Compensatory damages from multiple respondents is always a potential situation that can help tremendously in making an injured victim whole through a lawsuit. But, many times gross negligence can be proven when the track record of all parties involved can be proven as intentional substandard for reasonable duty of care for other motorists. Intentional acts that result in serious injury or death can result in punitive damage claims for both personal injury or wrongful death claims but must be awarded by a sympathetic jury that has issued a punitive damage inclusion in a verdict. While some states can limit the cap on punitive damages, they can still provide for proper damages recovery in horrendous accidents in which negligent parties are found in gross negligence or acting intentionally.
It is never a good decision for an injured party in a tractor trailer accident to attempt negotiating a claim personally. These accidents are always defended strongly and researched intensely for potential defenses against an equitable claim payment. Always hire an experienced traffic accident attorney with a solid track record of results for their clients.