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How Trucking Companies May Try to Evade Liability After a Crash

— December 2, 2020

The trucking companies do not negotiate fairly when they can avoid it. However, an aggressive accident professional can keep them honest to a large degree.

Trucking accidents are easily the most horrific mishaps on the U.S. highway system. Truck accidents almost always include multiple vehicles, and they can also endanger communities when the involved truck is a tanker carrying harmful chemicals. These chemicals sometimes release a toxic gas cloud, which has the potential for long term or immediate harm to anyone exposed.

Not only are those on the roadways in danger, but homes can also sometimes be evacuated depending on the cargo being carried. The number of potentially bad scenarios is extensive. Yet, even when big-rig accidents cause massive damage, the transportation company that has either contracted or owns the truck will attempt to get out in front of any upcoming financial damage and mitigate their losses.

This is standard policy even when a truck accident only includes one passenger vehicle. There are several similarities in how they attempt to reduce company liability.

Comparative Negligence Defense

One of the first defenses trucking companies use to avoid liability for a claim is to declare that the accident was caused by another driver other than the truck operator. This is the comparative negligence defense. All drivers are assessed for personal contribution to causation, and many times the trucking company attorneys will inflate the responsibility of other drivers.

Influence the Accident Investigation

All truck accidents are investigated by local law enforcement and the state DOT. The agencies then provide an official accident report that details what actually happened, according to an accident reconstruction officer. Transportation companies often send investigation teams out as well and attempt to influence the officials conducting the accident investigation with respect to causation.

Truck Operator Fault

Another tactic trucking companies use when deflecting liability for an accident is claiming the driver is an independent contractor, and they had no control over the situation. The truth is that transportation companies still treat contracted drivers as employees and make specific demands when loads must be delivered on a set time schedule. This is especially true when delivery bonuses are available. 

This defense is rarely effective for trucking companies attempting to avoid vicarious liability, and both insurance policies usually apply.

Contracting Shipper Liability

Many truck accidents occur due to overloading or shifted loads that are the result of improper loading and anchoring at the point of origin. While this is a common accident cause, it typically means that the contracting shipper is also liable to some extent when they do not follow state and federal regulations for loading cargo. 

This is also a possibility that many accident victims do not consider. This is why filing against multiple parties always requires the knowledge and experience of a truck accident lawyer.

Reduced Claims of Injury Severity

Another common defense that trucking companies use in obvious cases of fault is denying the injuries are as serious as claimed. This is done in a variety of ways, including requesting third-party physician opinions or even assigning a private investigator to watch the victim. This could actually be considered bad faith when an insurance company is involved as well.

Image of a Doctor Looking at an X-Ray
Doctor Looking at an X-Ray; image courtesy of via Unsplash,

As trucks are large and heavy vehicles, accidents can cause catastrophic damage. Potential damages for a truck accident include financial recovery for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • General damages for pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish

Mitigating General Damages

The most important component of any truck accident injury claim is pain and suffering. Pain and suffering cover intangibles like emotional anguish and inability to participate in previously enjoyed activities due to a disability. This is where trucking companies and their insurers work most diligently at limiting claim values. 

Experienced truck accident attorneys understand their tactics and always focus on this claim element in maximizing a settlement value. The victim only has one opportunity for economic justice, and it is vital to ensure it happens with solid legal counsel.

Always remember that the attorney chosen to settle a truck accident claim is crucial and can make a significant difference. The trucking companies do not negotiate fairly when they can avoid it. However, an aggressive accident professional can keep them honest to a large degree.

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