Who Pays for a Truck Accident in a Company Vehicle?
If you were injured in an auto accident in a company car, your first priority should be recovery. Afterwards, you may start to wonder about ways that you could get paid back for the debts you incur from medical expenses and other consequences of your injury.
If you were injured by a negligent truck driver, your case could involve at least six different parties who could possibly pay for your injuries. Many drivers are injured in truck accidents every year, especially on heavy commuter highways in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, such as I-35E, I-35W, or I-45.
The Dallas truck accident attorneys at The Queenan Law Firm will dive into these possibilities and help you understand who would pay for your injuries after a truck accident. If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a truck accident, take your case to a Dallas personal injury lawyer today. Call us to set up your free case assessment at (817) 476-1797.
Possible Parties to Blame for a Truck Accident
If you were injured in a car accident between two cars, the options seem simpler: either you or the other driver is responsible, so one of you pays for the injuries. Even in that case, things become more complicated because of insurance. Nearly every driver in Texas is required to have auto insurance. This insurance gives accident victims something to draw on if they’ve been injured. Standard rules in Texas mean that the at-fault driver’s insurance company usually covers injuries. However, this means we now have four parties to look at in any car accident: driver one, driver one’s insurance company, driver two, or driver two’s insurance company.
When you’re involved in a truck accident or an accident in a company car, there is an added level of possible lawsuit targets, since the drivers don’t own the cars. Truck drivers may be owner-operators, but in many situations, they are employed by a trucking company. Similarly, if you were hurt in an accident in a company car, your employer technically owns that car and could be responsible for injuries. However, since only a party who is at fault for an accident can normally be sued for injuries, this becomes more complicated.
Any time you are injured because of an employee’s negligence, you may be able to sue the employer as well. Normally, the employer wouldn’t come into the case. For example, if someone is on vacation or off-duty when they cause someone’s injuries, there is no expectation that their employer would be involved at all. Instead, you can only reach through to the at-fault driver’s employer if they were acting within the scope of their duties when the negligence occurred. That usually covers the truck driver, since the accident occurred while they were at work. If they were at-fault, you can usually sue the truck driver’s employer.
You may also be able to sue your own employer if you were injured in a company car. If you were “at work” when you were injured in the car, you might be able to sue the same as you could for any other work injury. If you were on your way to a meeting or driving was part of your job, your employer may need to cover your injuries. Alternatively, if the car your employer gave you was somehow unsafe, you may also be able to sue your employer to the extent that that unsafe car added to your injuries. If you were injured while off-duty in a car your company pays for, you might not be able to recover from your employer.
Are Employers Responsible When Their Employees Cause Accidents in Texas?
Texas law features a doctrine known as vicarious liability, which makes an employer liable for any damage that an employee negligently causes while they are working. Technically, in most situations where an employee is driving a company vehicle, they would be considered to be working.
However, there are a number of situations where an employee could be driving a company vehicle but not technically working. For instance, if an employee was using the company pickup truck on the weekend to help a friend move when they caused the accident in question, vicarious liability likely would not apply. If, however, the employee was coming from helping the friend move and on the way to bring the truck in to work, a court could determine that they were driving for work purposes, making the employer liable.
As you can probably tell from the above examples, this area can get quite complicated. This is why it is so important to have an experienced Fort Worth truck accident lawyer on your side to help decipher liability.
Do You Sue the Liable Party or Their Insurance Company?
When you are suing for damages from a car accident, you always name the party that was responsible for causing the accident, whether that be another driver, an employing company, the vehicle manufacturer, or some other person or entity. If that party has insurance coverage that kicks in to cover the damages you win in court, the policy will kick in when you win or settle your case, even if you do not name the insurer in the suit.
The only instance in which it would help you to sue an insurance company directly (yours or the other party’s) is when the insurance company has acted in bad faith. Insurance companies act in bad faith when they deny claims for erroneous reasons, use unfair tactics in negotiation and communication with claimants, purposely ignore key information, or consciously conduct inadequate investigations for the purposes of denying coverage.
Suing an insurance company for dealing in bad faith is a separate type of action than a traditional car accident lawsuit and can return additional damages on top of what you were already owed. If you feel that insurance representatives are being unfair to you while you try to secure the compensation that you are rightfully owed, contact our Texas truck accident attorneys as soon as possible.
Suing for Injuries in a Company Car
If you take your case to an experienced car accident attorney, they can guide you through deciding who you want to sue. Sometimes, you may be unable to sue your employer because of workers’ compensation rules. However, attorneys may still be able to find ways to bring your employer into the lawsuit to cover your injuries.
Often, the most important party to sue in a truck accident in a company car is the trucking company. There are many regulations and rules that govern truck drivers. Showing that any of these rules were violated can help you prove your case and may lead to even higher damages. Many times, trucking companies are also directly responsible for the crash if they hired untrained or unsafe drivers.
Whenever multiple parties might be responsible for an accident, attorneys usually try to bring them all into court. In many cases, one party may not be able to pay for your injuries. For example, a truck driver might not be able to compensate you for your injuries, so bringing his employer into the suit ensures there is money to pay for your injuries. The same is true for insurance companies, who usually cover any damages ordered against their clients, and may even pay for their Texas personal injury attorneys. Bringing another possibly responsible party into a lawsuit is called “joining” them in the suit.
Damages for Injuries in a Truck Accident in a Company Vehicle
If you have a valid lawsuit after suffering injuries in a company vehicle, you should be aware of what you stand to gain. This is because the compensation you can get from a lawsuit is much more substantial than what you stand to gain from an auto insurance or workers’ compensation claim.
In addition to the direct financial consequences of your accident, you can also recover for the more personal harms you suffered as a result of the crash and your resulting injuries, as well as possibly recovering punitive damages depending on the defendant’s behavior that led to the accident.
Economic damages are what you might commonly think of as the compensable harms from a car accident injury. These include medical expenses paid in connection to the injuries, such as fees for ambulance services, emergency treatment, necessary surgeries, physical therapy, and even hospital parking. You can also recover for lost income or missed opportunities for career advancement if your injuries prevent you from working for an extended period of time. While insurance claims do provide for some measure of economic harms, they are often limited by insurance caps, putting an arbitrary ceiling on how much you can get, even if you deserve more.
The area that really separates insurance claims from lawsuits is non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are calculated based on the victim’s pain and suffering after an accident. Though not as easy to calculate, these damages are substantial and only available through a personal injury lawsuit. Therefore, a lawsuit is the only way to obtain compensation for chronic pain, loss of enjoyment of life, or the onset of psychological conditions such as anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There is a third type of damages, called punitive damages, that are not always available in every case. However, when punitive damages are available, they are only available through a personal injury lawsuit, and not an insurance claim through workers’ compensation. Courts may decide to award punitive damages in situations where the defendant’s conduct was so reckless or malicious that it deserves additional punishment, which may also discourage future similar behavior in others. Examples of such situations might include accidents caused by drunk driving or where the vehicle had defects or issues which the manufacturer or owner knew about and did not disclose or fix. Discuss the potential for punitive damages in your case with your Frisco truck accident lawyers.
How Long Do You Have to Act to Get Compensation for a Company Truck Accident?
In Texas, vehicular accident victims that hope to recover compensation through a lawsuit cannot afford to wait too long to start the process of their legal action. That is because the state’s statute of limitations limits the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a car accident injury lawsuit to two years from the date of the accident. Lawsuits that are filed after this deadline will be thrown out in court, making it vital that the victim avoids putting off their case.
While two years may seem like an eternity, all accident injury victims should be aware of the additional benefits of acting early. For one, preparing your lawsuit can take a substantial amount of time. Your Texas truck accident lawyers will need to go through the details of the accident to assess fault, identify possible defendants, and estimate damages. Another benefit of acting early is that you avoid the possibility of evidence drying up or disappearing, which is common when plaintiffs wait too long to file their case.
The best step that you can take to secure your recovery after an accident is to reach out to a dedicated Texas truck accident lawyer as soon as you have had your injuries thoroughly evaluated and treated.
Dallas Truck Accident Lawyers
The Dallas personal injury lawyers at The Queenan Law Firm, P.C., have represented many truck accident victims in cases against the trucking company and their driver. Our principal attorney Kevin Queenan worked in the trucking industry, and, as an attorney, has achieved substantial compensation for multiple truck accident victims. For a free consultation on your truck accident case, call (817) 476-1797 today.