It only takes a split second for a devastating truck accident to occur. And those who are unlucky enough to find themselves harmed in these wrecks are often left with extensive injuries that can take a long time to recover from. Some are left with life-long injuries that are physical, emotional, and financial in nature.
If you or a loved one is in that situation now, then you might be wondering about what you can do to try to make things right. One option you have is pursuing a personal injury lawsuit. But should you just file a claim against the trucker who caused your accident?
Why you shouldn’t just sue a trucker
Although you certainly should levy a claim against a negligent trucker who caused you harm, you shouldn’t stop your legal action there. This is because truckers, in their individual capacity, oftentimes don’t have the resources to pay a judgment made against them, especially if that judgment is tied to catastrophic injuries and enormous losses. A trucker’s employer, on the other hand, is going to have deeper pockets that are much more capable of compensating you for your injuries.
Pursuing a legal claim against a truck company
If you decide to take legal action against a truck company, then you’re going to have to prove what’s known as vicarious liability. Essentially, this means that you have to show that the trucker was operating within the scope of his employment at the time of the wreck. In other words, the employer must have been deriving some sort of benefit from the driver’s activities at the time of the crash in order to impose vicarious liability.
Beware of truck company defenses
Although proving vicarious liability may sound simple enough, it can turn out to be quite complicated. That’s because truck companies sometimes have multiple defense options available to them, including the following:
- Frolic and detour: One-way truck companies try to avoid liability is by attempting to place all of the blame on the trucker. They can successfully do so if they can show that the trucker was operating outside the scope of his employment at the time of the accident. So, be prepared for the truck company to demonstrate that a trucker was taking a detour for personal enjoyment or was otherwise off his prescribed route.
- Comparative negligence: Also, be prepared for the truck company to argue that you’re to blame, at least partially, for your accident. That’s because Illinois has a comparative negligence law, which means that your ultimate compensatory recovery can be massively reduced if it’s demonstrated that you’re to blame for the wreck, at least in some fashion. So, be prepared to defend your own driving actions.
- Third-party liability: The truck company might also try to demonstrate that someone else was to blame for the wreck, so make sure that you’re bringing everyone into your case who may be responsible for your crash.
Develop the comprehensive legal strategy that you need on your side
There are a lot of approaches that you can take to your truck accident, but there are also several defenses that you’ll want to be prepared to rebut. To ensure that you’re putting forth the best legal strategy possible, you might want to consider discussing the facts of your case with an attorney who will know how to craft the compelling legal arguments that you need and want on your side.