If You’ve Been Involved In A Tractor Trailer Accident, Who Will Be Responsible And Who Will Pay Your Bills?

An accident with a tractor trailer can mean devastating consequences if you are in a small vehicle competing with a much larger truck.  If you’ve been injured as a result of a tractor trailer accident, you may have suffered serious injuries that will take a while to heal.  Besides having to worry about healing from your injuries, you are likely also concerned about who will be responsible for paying for your medical bills.  In the case of a tractor trailer accident, there are several possible avenues for recovery, depending on your circumstances.

Employer Liability

A tractor trailer driver is usually an actual employee of the trucking company, which is often called a “company driver.”  When this happens, whether the trucking company is liable or responsible for your medical bills and pain and suffering will usually be based on the laws of the state where the accident happened.  In this situation, the trucking company is responsible for the actions of its truck driver as long as the driver was acting “within the scope of his employment.”

A truck driver acts in the “scope of his employment” if what he or she is doing at the time of the accident serves to further the trucking company’s business in any way.  Usually, a truck driver who is violating a trucking company’s policies can still be acting within the scope of his employment as long as his actions are related to the business of the trucking company.  So, when a truck driver who is driving a commercial vehicle has been using drugs or alcohol has an accident, that would not necessarily take him or her out of the scope of the employment.

Lease Liability

Some trucking companies lease drivers and their vehicles.  This is frequently called an “owner/operator” lease.  In this type of situation, the trucking company usually has “exclusive possession, control and use” of the leased vehicle.

When the trucking company has “exclusive possession, control and use” of the vehicle, courts have often used this phrase to hold the trucking company responsible for accidents caused by the driver’s negligence

Determining who is liable when a truck has been leased can be very tricky.  For example, when a truck is under a permanent lease to one trucking company but then is “trip leased” to another trucking company, both companies can be held responsible for any negligence that occurs.  Even though the federal regulations require a trucking company to have a written lease, not having a written lease does not always get the trucking company off the hook when an oral lease exists.

Talk to a Lawyer First!

Determining who is responsible for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of future earnings can be complicated in the case of a tractor trailer accident.  If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck or tractor trailer, you might be contacted by the trucking company’s insurance representative very quickly.  Sometimes, insurance companies will try to call you as soon as the day after the accident.  Before you talk to any insurance company, you should get the advice of an experienced truck accident lawyer.  Most lawyers will give you a free consultation to talk about what you might be entitled to receive.  At the Ritchie Law Firm, you can talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer for free . . . NO STRINGS ATTACHED!!

Whether the insurance company contacts you quickly or not, the faster you seek legal advice from a lawyer who knows truck accidents, the better.  With a tractor trailer crash, prompt investigation is critical to successfully recovering money damages in your case.  Because accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating, making sure that things like skid mark measurements and impact marks are preserved are often essential to a good recovery.

Experienced Tractor Trailer Accident Lawyers

The five lawyers at the Ritchie Law Firm have more 145 years of combined experienced handling truck accident cases.  See our tractor trailer accident Case Results here.  Throughout the nearly half century history of the Ritchie Law Firm, our lawyers have handled thousands of devastating crash cases involving serious and complex injuries such as spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, internal organ damage, multiple bone fractures, and even death.

You should not have to bear the financial burden of a wreck that was caused by a negligent truck driver.  Accidents involving tractor trailers are devastating. At the Ritchie Law Firm, we can help you hold the other driver accountable and help you get the compensation you need to pay your bills and recover.

Talk with a Virginia and West Virginia Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one suffered significant injuries in a truck or tractor trailer accident in Virginia, Ritchie Law Firm is here to help.  The experienced, certified attorneys at the Ritchie Law Firm has helped thousands of injured victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve after an accident. Contact us by phone at 800-277-6124 or by using our online contact form.

Ritchie Law Firm is a personal injury law firm devoted to helping individuals who have suffered serious and catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligence. Ritchie Law Firm serves all of Virginia, while helping clients in cities and surrounding areas of Harrisonburg, Charlottesville, Staunton, and Winchester also serves clients in West Virginia, including Martinsburg, WV.