Suffering an accident with a truck driver can prove catastrophic. Big trucks carry a great deal more mass, which means they often cause substantial injuries for anyone in an accident. When you have an accident with a truck driver who carries standard insurance, you may have the right to recover considerable compensation for your injuries through that truck driver's insurance.
But what happens when you suffer injuries in an accident with a truck driver who does not carry insurance? Learn more about an accident with an uninsured truck driver from our experienced truck accident lawyers.
Does the Trucking Company Bear Liability?
In some truck accident scenarios, the trucking company may bear liability for the truck driver’s lack of insurance. Trucking companies usually carry substantial insurance to help protect them if a negligent truck driver causes an accident out on the road. That insurance can provide essential protection if a truck driver does not carry insurance.
Sometimes, trucking companies may share direct liability for the dangerous actions of their drivers, which may make it easier to file a claim against the trucking company.
The Trucking Company Knowingly Hired a Negligent Driver
Drivers may fail to carry insurance for several reasons. Most notably, a truck driver may have difficulty getting insurance coverage due to an expired license or ineligibility to drive a big truck.
If a trucking company knowingly hires a truck driver who does not have a license or insurance, or if the trucking company employs or continues to employ a driver who has caused multiple accidents, the trucking company may share liability for that driver’s actions and lack of coverage.
The Trucking Company Has Dangerous Policies
Trucking companies may have various policies and procedures that influence the way their drivers act on the road, including everything from how many hours they drive to how hard they push to meet their goals for the day.
Federal law lays out the number of hours a driver can spend on the road each day and the basic regulations a truck driver must follow. However, some trucking companies may have policies that push their drivers to the limits of those regulations, or even beyond them, raising the odds that those drivers will cause a serious accident.
A trucking company with dangerous policies may bear liability for an accident caused by a truck driver who followed those policies but grew negligent. For example, if a trucking company has a policy that pushes a driver to continue driving despite drowsiness or inebriation, including strict penalties that could impact the driver’s overall livelihood if he ignores those regulations, the trucking company may bear direct liability for the incident.
The Truck Does Not Receive Proper Maintenance, Leading or Contributing to the Accident
Many trucking companies own the trucks they send their drivers out in every day. When the trucking company owns the truck and sends drivers out despite failing to take care of needed maintenance on the truck, the trucking company may share liability for an accident caused by that lack of maintenance.
Suppose, for example, that the truck driver reports problems with the truck’s brakes. The trucking company may fail to repair those brakes due to tight deadlines or the expense of replacing them earlier than their regular maintenance reports suggest they should. If the brakes fail, it could cause a serious accident on the road, including a T-bone collision or rear-end collision. As a result, the trucking company might share liability for the incident.
The Company Fails to Properly Monitor Its Drivers and Trucks
Trucking companies also must monitor their drivers, trucks, and anything else that could impact their drivers or the other people who have to share the road with them. Often, however, trucking companies fail to take care of that essential step.
They may ignore the needs of their truck drivers, fail to check their drivers' records regularly, or fail to regularly conduct complete truck inspections. When the trucking company fails in that simple duty, it may bear liability for an accident caused by one of its drivers.
When the trucking company shares liability for the accident for any reason, you may have the right to recover compensation for the accident from the trucking company directly. In some cases, your lawyer may also argue that the trucking company bears responsibility for the actions of its driver, including ensuring that the trucker has adequate auto insurance.
Some truck accidents involve third-party liability: liability on the part of someone not present at the scene of the accident, but who nevertheless had a substantial impact on the potential for an accident. Working with a lawyer can help you identify any third party that might share liability for your truck accident.
The Truck Manufacturer
Each year, hundreds of thousands of vehicles get recalled across the United States, sometimes including big trucks. Those recalls frequently occur due to some manufacturer error: a faulty part that poses a serious danger, for example, or a damaged vehicle that, in some way, could increase the risk of an accident or the danger to someone involved in an accident with that truck.
Often, manufacturers do not catch those errors until after the first accident or incident occurs.
If you have an accident with a truck that a manufacturing defect or error caused, the manufacturer may share liability for the accident, and you may pursue compensation from it.
The Company That Loaded the Truck
Sometimes, outside companies may load big trucks, including the companies that need their cargo transported. While truck drivers bear liability for checking their loads, truck drivers may not always see, at first glance, potential errors that could ultimately lead to a serious incident.
Shifting loads inside the trailer could increase the risk of a jackknife or rollover accident, while a load that falls from a flatbed could endanger vehicles alongside the truck. If a loading error causes a serious accident, the company that loaded the truck may bear liability for any injuries caused by the incident.
Many trucking companies have in-house mechanics that take care of most of the work done on their trucks, which means that the trucking company would likely bear liability for any error caused by a mechanic. However, in some cases, trucking companies may outsource their work to a third party, or bring in an outside mechanic to take care of serious problems with the truck.
Mechanics bear a heavy duty of care when it comes to their work on big trucks. They must carefully repair any damage, check the area around those repairs to ensure that they did not mistakenly cause further damage, and make sure that the truck does not have any problems that could put its driver or others around him in danger before certifying the vehicle as roadworthy.
If a mechanic fails in that basic duty of care, he may bear liability for an accident caused by his act of inattention or negligence. Furthermore, a mechanic may bear liability for an accident caused by the damage he caused to the vehicle, even unintentionally depending on mechanical failure that occurred.
Filing a Claim with Your Insurance Company
If you have an accident with an uninsured truck driver, particularly if you cannot identify any additional parties that may share liability for the incident, you may file a claim through your insurance company.
Most drivers in Pennsylvania carry personal injury protection coverage as part of their auto insurance policies. Personal injury protection coverage can offer essential coverage after your truck accident, regardless of whether the truck driver carries insurance. PIP coverage offers immediate coverage for the medical bills you may face after any auto accident. Since truck accidents often involve substantial injury, that coverage can make it much easier to manage your financial losses.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage can prove essential to managing your costs after an accident with an uninsured truck driver. Uninsured motorist coverage provides the same protection you would get through the other driver's insurance policy after an accident. You file this claim through your own insurance company, rather than the other driver's.
With uninsured motorist coverage, you can claim compensation for:
- Medical costs related to your truck accident
- Lost wages because of your injuries
- Pain and suffering related to your accident
Dealing with your own insurance company can prove just as complicated as dealing with the other driver’s insurance company, especially when you have considerable injuries from your truck accident. However, knowing that you have that coverage in place can provide immense peace of mind as you try to handle the bills from your accident.
What Should You Do After an Accident with an Uninsured Truck Driver?
An uninsured truck driver who causes an accident may feel panicked. You may wonder what to do next, especially if the driver pressures you to avoid reporting the accident. However, if you have an accident with an uninsured truck driver, you need to focus on protecting yourself as much as possible.
Contact the police to report the accident immediately.
Never leave the scene of an accident, especially a truck accident, without reporting it to the police. The police can help determine the cause of the accident and ensure that the truck driver accepts liability. The truck driver may try to pressure you not to report the accident, since driving a big truck without adequate insurance can pose substantial legal consequences.
However, failure to report the accident could interfere with your ability to pursue compensation. Not only that, the police officer who responds to the scene may help uncover vital information that can help you more effectively establish that the truck driver caused the accident or whether any third parties may share liability for the incident.
Get medical care for any injuries you may have sustained.
Never forego medical treatment or ignore your medical needs after any kind of accident, including one with an uninsured driver. If you carry PIP insurance, that insurance will help cover the immediate cost of an emergency room visit or other medical care, once you take care of the cost of your deductible.
Failure to seek medical attention could leave serious injuries undiagnosed, which may make it more difficult for you to make a full recovery. Not only that, you may find that failure to seek medical treatment could make it more difficult for you to claim compensation for those injuries, no matter what route you pursue for compensation.
Contact a lawyer to discuss your options and your rights.
After an accident with an uninsured truck driver, you may have several options for pursuing compensation. Some of those options, however, may prove considerably more complicated than the average injury claim.
Whether you need to deal with your own insurance company and pursue compensation through your uninsured motorist coverage or you can identify a third party that may share liability for the accident, working with a lawyer can get you the full compensation you deserve.
Not only can a lawyer make sure you understand your right to compensation, an experienced law firm can collect evidence that may more effectively establish liability for the accident. Contact a lawyer as soon after your accident as possible to discuss your options, your next steps, and how you can best pursue compensation for your injuries.