Truck Drivers Can Be Hurt in Accidents, TooTruck drivers don’t have it easy — and you don’t have to tell them that. Sure, there’s probably something soothing about hours on the open road with your own music and no one to judge you for it, but nothing is quite like we imagine it to be. Again, though, truck drivers already know this. They already know about their long hours and heavy loads and hectic schedules taking them away from home, and they (hopefully) also know about the dangers and hazards of their occupation.

If they get into an accident for some reason, for example, they probably know they might be held liable. At the very least, other parties will try to make a case for it. It’s not out of malice, but truck accidents often involve someone getting seriously hurt, and that the victims shouldn’t be on the hook for paying the massive bills that come with a catastrophic injury, or worrying about a future where they can no longer work. If a truck driver was injured in an accident caused by, let’s say, faulty truck equipment that they had no way of knowing about, they may find themselves fighting the law from multiple angles at once.

Why truck accident cases are tricky

As we know, trucks are used to transport goods and items all over the continent in almost every product-based industry there is. This is why they’re classed as commercial vehicles (as opposed to passenger vehicles driven by the average person). Now, because trucks are seldom privately-owned, this means that figuring out who is liable in the case of an accident is a bit more complicated than a typical car accident.

In Tennessee, any of the following parties may be held liable in a truck accident case:

  • The owner(s) of the truck, if it’s not the driver
  • The truck driver
  • The broker responsible for arranging delivery
  • The trucking company that hired the driver
  • The company that owned the loading/unloading docks

For truck drivers, this news can be bittersweet. They know they will be the prime suspect regardless of their actual fault, but they also know something can be done about it. Trucks, like any other mass-produced product, are privy to defects and unseen issues that can have dangerous consequences if they’re not caught in time, and it’s not always possible to do so. After all, truck manufacturers don’t exactly leap at the chance to announce a recall, meaning they may let certain issues continue for too long out of self-preservation.

Mack Trucks, we’re looking at you. They just had to issue a recall because an undetectable issue with the parking brakes was causing them to unexpectedly release on the roads, causing numerous accidents. Even though truck drivers were, indeed, driving those trucks, they wouldn’t be held liable for those accidents because it was due to the manufacturer’s error. That is exactly what needs to be proven in court if you are a truck driver facing a civil lawsuit for a truck accident you could not prevent, and that is also what you should use to seek your own worker’s compensation for the dangerous conditions.

Let’s talk about workers’ compensation for commercial drivers

If you drive for a living – a tractor-trailer, a delivery van, a box truck filled with goods that moves from store to store – and you are classified as an employee, then you can get workers’ compensation if you get hurt on the job. That doesn’t just mean if you get into a collision with another vehicle; you’re also covered for any of the day-to-day injuries that are common for truckers. Those injuries can include:

  • Strains and sprains associated with loading and unloading cargo
  • Injuries from slips, trips, and falls
  • Crushing injuries that can occur on loading docks or when you’re helping another truck backup
  • Repetitive stress injuries from being force to make the same movements over and over again
  • Chemical burns and toxic inhalation related to the cargo you carry – or the cargo that spills in the event of a crash or a rollover
  • Occupational illnesses
  • Acts of violence

Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, any eligible employee can make a claim even if they are partially at-fault for their own injuries. In return for this access to benefits, you agree not to sue your employer if someone else is responsible for your injuries.

What if a defective truck part caused you harm?

If the root cause of your injuries is a defective truck part (we see you, Mack), you have the option to file a product liability lawsuit. These can be tricky too, so don’t try to handle it on your own. A product liability lawsuit alleges that one of these three things caused your harm:

  • A manufacturing error. If something goes awry in the production of the part – say, a widget gets loose and it causes a defect in the brakes, which then causes the brakes to fail – the manufacturer can be held liable.
  • A design error. This type of claim says that the problem was rooted in the very design of the part or the truck as a whole. To use an older example, when the Ford Pintos were basically exploding back in the 70s, it was because the way the car was designed made it dangerous. For a truck, a design error is more likely to involve the fuel system or even the tires.
  • A failure to warn. You know how small tools and appliances have those tags that say “Don’t submerge in water”? those tags are there to warn you about the dangers of getting the machine wet. Truck manufacturers are held to the same standard: if there’s a potential issue, they have to tell you about it.

There are two things to note here. First, a company’s failure to issue a recall notice doesn’t necessarily count as a failure to warn, but that missing recall notice could be a part of your claim, so it’s worth looking to see if there are any recalls.

Second, you can file a third-party injury claim (like a product liability lawsuit) AND file for workers’ compensation benefits, but you may have to pay back some of that comp money if you win your lawsuit. We can talk about what the best option for you is.

If you manage to survive a truck crash or other incident that causes you harm, the very last thing you should need to worry about is getting the help you need for your own medical bills and lost wages. While the average person may be able to get by with a broken leg, a trucker could be out of work the entire time it takes that leg to heal. If it’s a broken collarbone, it could be even longer. The point is that even an injury that’s expected to heal with time could have some serious consequences for people that make their living driving around and loading and unloading goods.

The best way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to hire an attorney as quickly as possible to get to work on detangling the situations and building your cases. If you’re here in Knoxville, the truck accident attorneys at Banks & Jones can help you every step of the way so you’re able to focus on yourself. We’ll do the hard bits. For a free consultation, call us today at 865-546-2141 or use our contact form. We’ll get those mother truckers together.