In Legal Terms, How Are Trucking Accidents Different From Motor Vehicle Accidents?
Crashes that involve commercial trucks or buses present legal challenges that generally do not arise from other kinds of collisions. These difficulties can loom even larger when the tractor-trailer, construction equipment, or bus is owned or operated by a government agency.
People who got injured or lost a family member in a crash with a commercial or government vehicle in central Ohio should definitely consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer in Columbus. Figuring out insurance issues and receiving adequate settlements or jury awards for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering can be impossible without receiving advice and representation from a dedicated legal advocate.
Determining Cause and Liability
In Ohio, truck crash victims can only receive insurance settlements or civil lawsuit awards if they share less than 50 percent of the blame for causing the wreck. For instance, a truck driver and trucking company may be able to avoid financial liability by arguing that the injured driver cut off the tractor-trailer while changing lanes. Similarly, a bus driver could argue that a pedestrian was crossing the street against the light.
Partnering with an experienced Columbus personal injury lawyer can make it easier to answer questions about which driver bears most of the responsibility for causing a crash. The attorney will know how to access and interpret all the evidence collected by police, and the law firm will have the resources needed to conduct an independent investigation.
Figuring Out Insurance Coverages
Federal and state regulations require tractor-trailers, charter buses, and construction vehicles like dump trucks to carry multiple forms of insurance. Typically, separate policies will cover the driver and the vehicle. Cargo, especially hazardous and flammable materials, will often be covered separately, as well.
Because many commercial drivers are independent contractors, the trucker who caused a wreck may hold a policy that does not cover negligence by the company that owns the vehicle. Further complicating matters, a truck crash may result from improper maintenance or defective equipment. When that happens, the garage that serviced the vehicle can be found at fault, or the company that manufactured the failed part could have a duty to compensate victims.
Simply figuring out which individuals and companies owe legal duties to the victims of a truck or bus crash can become so complicated that the victim stops trying. Hiring a Columbus personal injury lawyer will give the victim an ally whose main job is not to walk away from the case.
A Note on Sovereign Immunity
Getting hit by a city bus or public works vehicle introduces yet one more complication into the insurance mess. Government agencies can sometimes invoke sovereign immunity, which means victims cannot file claims or sue for compensation and damages in the same way they would had the truck or bus been privately owned.
Determining when sovereign immunity applies is always a legal issue, as is finding a way to hold a government agency financially accountable when the protection from lawsuits is invoked. A Columbus-based personal injury lawyer will have experience working through such issues on behalf of a crash victim.
Attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman offer free consultations to injured victims of truck crashes and to families who lost loved ones in wrecks involving trucks. Appointments are available by calling (614) 678-3318 or by completing this online contact form.