In 2013, there were 84 fatal commercial vehicle crashes (including trucks as a commercial vehicle) and 2,176 nonfatal commercial vehicle crashes in Missouri alone. This amounted to 99 deaths and 3,400 injuries.
When you are involved in a truck accident, there are many parties that can be at fault ranging from you to the other driver involved to the car manufacturer and more. When it comes to understanding who may be paying for your accident-related bills, assigning liability can get pretty confusing.
There are several different options for liability coverage after a truck accident and several different groups could be liable for the damage caused by the crash.
Workers’ Compensation Coverage
Regardless of fault, if a worker is injured while driving a company vehicle, including a truck, then there is a chance that workers’ compensation will cover the incident.
Workers’ compensation is no fault – meaning that unless certain rare exceptions are met, it pays whenever a workplace injury or illness occurs. Truck accidents are no exception.
When the accident injures a third party – i.e., a non-employee is injured – and the employee driver was at fault in the accident, the employer could be vicariously liable.
What this means is that because an employee caused the accident, the employer is liable for the third party damages. This often happens if the employer knew or should have known that the employer was acting unsafely or if the employer was encouraging the behavior.
Examples situations in which the employer might be liable include:
- If there are no rules in place about distracted driving.
- If the employer encourages their drivers to text while driving.
- Any failure to follow state and federal regulations regarding safety and maintenance.
All employers must have commercial insurance on their vehicles. Therefore, there is a good chance that ultimately the insurance company will be liable for the damages. However, there are times where the insurance company may refuse; for example, if the vehicles were being used in a manner that is not listed under the insurance contract.
While it is rare, there are times when the employee driver may be held liable for damages in an accident. This is most often the result of some willful act by the employee or if they are driving the vehicle off duty.
For example, say that a driver has been drinking and then gets in an accident while driving the employer’s vehicle. There is a good chance that the company will not be liable for any damages, but instead, the blame will rest on the driver.
Vehicle Defects – Manufacturer Liability
In certain circumstances, there may be something wrong with the truck itself that caused the accident or added to the damages in the accident (for example, a faulty air bag that did not go off, causing worse damages). In these cases, there may be a product liability case that can be made against the manufacturer.
Navigating the Liability Maze
If you have been injured by a commercial truck and are unsure who is at fault or what damages you can recover, talking to an experienced truck accident lawyer can help. Kevin J. Roach is a St. Louis truck accident lawyer and routinely handles truck and auto accidents throughout the state of Missouri. Contact us today online or by phone at (866) 519-0085 for a free consultation.