Trucking Accidents: Who Do I Sue?

Involvement with a truck in an accident may be an extremely frightening experience. Any collision with a vehicle weighing 35,000 pounds and moving at speeds of 70 mph or more may be the scare of a lifetime. More importantly, this type of incident also has the potential to leave its participants with severe, even fatal, injuries.

Like any motor vehicle accident, when a driver is negligent, he or she is liable for any damages legally and proximately caused by this negligence. When a motorist is involved in a car accident, the other driver is typically the owner of the vehicle and filing a lawsuit against the proper party is straightforward.

When involved in an accident with a truck, it becomes more complicated because there may be more than one party legally responsible. Injured motorists must hold all drivers accountable for operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner, including drivers employed by commercial trucking enterprises.

A lawsuit may hold a truck driver accountable, but the personal assets of most truck drivers will not adequately compensate a personal injury plaintiff for any losses. However, the assets and insurance of his or her employer may be sufficient to cover all damages suffered by a personal injury plaintiff.

The truck driver is an agent of his employer acting on its behalf. Therefore, agency principles dictate that any accident occurring during the scope of the truck driver’s employment may allow a plaintiff to pursue a lawsuit against the employer.

Seeking recovery from the truck driver’s insurance company is typically a more fruitful option. This is important since it increases the chances of the plaintiff realizing a more complete recovery of losses. These parties may provide additional sources of compensation contributing to a higher damages award.

Another possibility is suing the employer for negligently hiring or training the driver. The driver may not have been qualified at the time of hiring or at the time of taking his or her first load.

Accidents may be caused by a bad tire or the driver’s intoxication. If some faulty, worn or degraded tire caused injuries, a plaintiff might sue the:

  • Driver
  • Owner
  • Manufacturer

An injured plaintiff may sue any motor vehicle owner who has failed to replace recalled tires or failed to follow NHTSA guidelines for the replacement of worn tires. An injured plaintiff may also bring a products liability action against the manufacturer of a defective or dangerous tire.

If an accident was the result of the driver being intoxicated, a plaintiff might sue the:

  • Driver
  • Owner
  • Business establishment that served alcohol to the truck driver   

If a truck driver is intoxicated and causes an accident which results in personal injuries because of intoxication, Florida’s Dram Shop laws allow an injured plaintiff to directly sue the business establishment that sold and served the alcohol.

Proving allegations related to any truck accident caused by driver negligence or intoxication may be a complicated and time-consuming process. It is a wise course of action to contact an attorney experienced in litigating personal injury lawsuits involving truck accidents. If you or a loved one has suffered any type of injury resulting from a truck, motor vehicle, or motorcycle, accident, call us at 941-748-2916, or contact us by e-mail. We have offices in Sarasota and Bradenton to serve you.