You or a loved one is hurt in a trucking wreck. You go to a lawyer. The lawyer determines that the truck driver was at fault, and because the trucker was working for a company at the time, the trucking company is liable. End of story, right?
A lot of lawyers treat trucking accidents as car wrecks, but in so doing, they are leaving potential recovery dollars on the table.
The good guys over at Miller & Zois had a blog post on this earlier this week. In the post, they noted one big difference that I’ve preached to clients before:
Injury cases involving trucks or commercial vehicles are different. That is because usually, the vehicle is either owned or being operated on behalf of a trucking company or some other type of corporate entity. The driver is driving it because that’s the job he was hired to do.
In these kinds of cases, experienced lawyers generally bring a claim for negligent entrustment, hiring, or retention. This is a claim made by the injured person against the owner of the truck or the driver’s employer. It alleges that the owner or employer was negligent because they knew or should have known that it wasn’t safe to allow the driver to operate their truck, but did it anyway.
This lets you get into the hiring and employment process to determine if the driver had a bad record and whether the employer knew about it or should have known about it if a proper invesitgation was done. Did the driver tell the truth about his prior record on the application? Did he notify the employer of accidents or traffic violations during the employment? Did the employer check his record? When? How often?
The negligent entrustment claim allows you to get discovery of all these issues, and to put them before the jury. This can make a huge difference in cases where liability is contested because the individual case can become part of a larger pattern of the driver’s conduct.
One more reason to make sure your lawyer has experience in the kind of case you have. Issues like this won’t make a huge difference in every case, but in the cases where it matters, it’s an advantage you don’t want to give up.
In Texas trucking cases, there are other issues that also distinguish trucking cases from car wreck cases so make sure your lawyer has the experience to know the difference.
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