When you get injured in a car accident, recovering just compensation usually involves dealing with the auto insurance companies. Ohio law requires all drivers to carry liability coverage for their personal vehicles, and in most cases, driver negligence is to blame.
But what happens when the other vehicle involved in an accident is a commercial truck?
Asserting your legal rights after a commercial truck accident is a very different process. While many of the same basic legal principles apply, there are additional challenges involved in recovering the financial compensation you deserve. As a result, while it is important to hire a lawyer after any serious accident, it is especially important to hire a Columbus truck accident lawyer after a collision with an 18-wheeler or other commercial vehicle.
Filing a Claim After a Truck Accident in Ohio: A Brief Overview
So, how does insurance work after a truck accident? The good news is that insurance coverage should be available to you. Unless the accident was primarily your fault, you can file a liability claim—or possibly multiple liability claims—to seek just compensation for your accident-related losses. This includes your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other financial or non-financial losses you incur as a result of the collision.
The claim (or claims) you can file after a truck accident in Ohio depends on the cause (or causes) of the accident. With that said, most commercial truck accidents are the result of driver negligence. Driving a large commercial truck requires skill and constant attention, and even minor mistakes behind the wheel can have drastic consequences. If the truck driver is to blame for your accident, you will most likely have a claim against either:
- The Truck Driver’s Insurance Company – Some commercial truck drivers are owner-operators. This means that they own their own trucks, and they use their trucks to make deliveries for other companies. All owner-operators should have liability insurance. So, if the truck driver who caused your accident is an owner-operator, recovering your losses will most likely involve dealing with his or her insurance company.
- The Truck Driver’s Employer (or Its Insurance Company) – Truck drivers who aren’t owner-operators are typically employees of larger companies. These can include trucking companies, delivery companies, moving companies, big-box retailers, grocery store chains and a wide range of other businesses. Under Ohio law, employers are liable for their employees’ negligence within the scope of their employment. So, if the truck driver who caused your accident is an employee, his or her employer should be liable, and the employer’s liability insurance policy should apply.
While truck driver negligence is the leading cause of commercial truck accidents, various other factors can lead to these accidents as well. If truck driver negligence wasn’t the cause of your accident (or if it wasn’t the sole cause of your accident), then you may have a different type of claim. In this scenario, recovering your accident-related losses may involve filing a claim against:
- The Truck’s Manufacturer – Truck defects can cause (or contribute to causing) accidents in some cases. If the truck’s brakes failed, if the truck suffered a tire blowout, or if any other issue with the truck played a role in your accident, you may be able to file a claim with the truck manufacturer’s insurance company.
- A Governmental Entity – Issues with the road can contribute to causing truck accidents in some cases as well. These issues can range from potholes and low shoulders to missing signs and poorly timed traffic signals. If an issue with the road is to blame (or even partially to blame) for your injuries, you may have a claim against the governmental entity that is responsible for its construction and maintenance.
- Another Driver’s Insurance Company – Other drivers’ negligence can also play a role in causing serious commercial truck accidents. If someone else cut off the truck driver, was too distracted to avoid a collision, or made any other mistake that led to your injuries, then that driver’s insurance policy should still apply.
- Another Third Party – There are several other possibilities as well. For example, if your brakes failed or your airbag exploded, then your vehicle’s manufacturer could be liable. Or, if the truck’s brakes failed because of a faulty brake job, then the shop that performed the work could be liable. Companies have insurance coverage that applies in these scenarios as well, and, again, the key is knowing which claim (or claims) you need to file.
However, while insurance coverage may be available to you, obtaining the financial compensation you deserve can still prove challenging. Insurance companies will fight to avoid liability for serious truck accidents, and they will often try to shift blame to other parties. As a result, recovering your losses requires clear evidence of liability, and it requires the ability to deal with the insurance companies effectively. This means that you need an experienced Columbus truck accident lawyer on your side.
Protecting Your Right to Insurance Coverage After a Commercial Truck Accident
Given the complexity of commercial truck accident cases, it is important to do everything you can to protect your right to insurance coverage. For example, one of the most important things you can do is prioritize your medical care. Seeking treatment promptly will help prove that your injuries are accident-related, and it will also help prevent the insurance companies from blaming you for your own losses.
Seeking legal representation promptly is important as well. Once you hire a lawyer, your lawyer can launch an investigation and preserve any evidence that is available. Your lawyer can also walk you through your next steps and deal with the insurance companies on your behalf. When you have a commercial truck accident claim, mistakes can be costly, and you need to ensure that you are making informed decisions based on sound legal advice.
Contact a Columbus Truck Accident Lawyer at Malek & Malek Law Firm
If you need to know more about protecting your legal rights after a commercial truck accident in Ohio, we encourage you to get in touch. Call 888-444-7440 or request a free consultation online to speak with a Columbus truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.