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Co-Driver Trucking Accident: A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

If you were an off-duty trucker injured in a co-driver truck accident, it is important that you know what your legal rights are for compensation. As a second driver, even though you maintained an on-duty status at the time of the collision, you have a legal right to be compensated for your damages, such as medical bills, lost wages from missed work, surgery costs, permanent disabilities, and property damage due to the accident. In this blog post, we provide comprehensive insights into the laws and legal rights linked to co-driver injury truck accidents so you can be armed with knowledge when seeking just compensation from insurance companies.


The personal injury attorneys at Sneed & Mitchell LLP provide assistance and legal counsel as they specialize in aggressively pursuing damages for b-seat drivers in semi-truck accidents. Co-driver accident claims are complex and involve overlapping factors, including worker's compensation policies held by the involved parties, independent contractor laws, and the trucking companies or fleet operators responsible for the resulting damages. If you need assistance in pursuing a claim, contact Sneed & Mitchell LLP today for a free no-obligation consultation to discuss your rights and options.


Co-Driver Trucking Accident: A Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

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What Is Co-Driving?


Co-driving in trucking accidents refers to a situation in which two drivers are in the same truck when a collision or other such accident occurs. It is not uncommon for one driver to be relatively inexperienced and for them to share the responsibility of navigating their route with a more seasoned driver. The co-driver usually provides guidance, assurance, and safety measures that reduce the risk of mishaps happening while both are behind the wheel. This technique can often reduce the likelihood of an accident occurring due to inexperience or fatigue by having two sets of eyes monitoring the road and keeping an eye on other vehicles around them. Co-driving presents a layer of accountability and responsibility that often shows positive results when it comes to avoiding collisions while hauling freight.


Who Is Liable For The Injuries To Co-Drivers?


It is important for co-drivers to understand who may be held liable in order to determine what legal recourse you may have. Trucking accidents can involve significantly more layered issues than other motor vehicle collisions since many parties can potentially hold responsibility, from the driver and their employer’s insurance providers to cargo owners and maintenance crews.


The entities commonly held responsible in co- trucking accidents include;


Truck Driver


The truck driver may be held liable for the victim's damages if it is determined that the driver was negligent in operating the truck. Truck drivers holds vast responsibility when they get behind the wheel; not only must they maintain a safe speed, remain alert and well-rested while driving but also conduct routine maintenance of their rig to ensure everything is in working order. However, negligent behavior such as speeding or distracted driving can lead to tragic accidents where criminal charges may be pending -or even convictions later on. In some cases too, cargo shifts that arise due to improper loading techniques could mean the trucker bears part of the blame for any crash caused by such negligence.


Trucking Company


The trucking company may be held liable for negligent hiring, training, or violations of a regulation issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation.


Cargo Loader


The cargo loading business is a complex web of responsibility imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, with many parties involved in the handling and shipping process. Each individual stakeholder – such as shippers, loaders and carriers – are all accountable for abiding by federal and state regulations regarding transport safety.


Manufacturer


A parts or product manufacturer may be held liable for the victim's damages if it is determined that a defective truck or part caused the accident. Unsafe or defective protections can implicate the manufacturer under the principle of strict liability.


Owner


The owner of the truck may be held liable for the victim's damages if it is determined that the owner was negligent in maintaining the truck or in hiring, training, or supervising the driver.


A Governmental Entity


Sometimes a local city or municipality is held responsible for designing, constructing, and maintaining the road on which the accident occurred may be held liable for the victim's damages if it is determined that a dangerous condition on the road caused the accident.


Multiple Parties


If multiple parties are found to be at fault for an accident, they may all be held jointly and severally liable for the victim's damages. This means that each party will be responsible for 100% of the victim's damages, and any one party can be required to pay all of the damages if the others are unable to do so.


What Legal Rights Does A Co-Driver Have After A Trucking Accident?


After a trucking accident, the co-driver or passenger in the truck may have legal rights depending on the specific circumstances of the accident. Here are some potential legal rights that a co-driver may have:


Workers' compensation benefits


If the co-driver is an employee of the trucking company or the owner-operator of the truck, they may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other related costs.


Personal injury claims


If the accident was caused by the negligence of another driver, the co-driver may have a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver to recover damages for their injuries. A truck driver can be held liable for a crash in several ways, including:

  1. Unsafe driving: If the truck driver was driving recklessly, speeding, or engaging in other unsafe behaviors on the road, they could be held liable for any resulting accidents.

  2. Violations of federal regulations: Truck drivers are subject to numerous federal regulations, including hours-of-service rules and weight restrictions. If a driver violates these regulations and causes an accident, they could be held liable for any resulting damages.

  3. Driving under the influence: Truck drivers sometimes operate semi trucks under the influence of drugs or alcohol and can be held criminally and civilly liable for any accidents that occur.

  4. Failing to maintain the truck: Commercial drivers are responsible for ensuring that their vehicle is safe to operate. If the driver fails to maintain the truck or identify and address any mechanical issues, they could be held liable for any accidents that occur as a result of equipment failure.

  5. Negligent hiring: Fleet operators sometimes hires a driver who has a history of reckless driving or other red flags, and the driver causes an accident, the company could be held liable for negligent hiring.

  6. Improper loading: If the truck is not properly loaded, it can cause the truck to become unstable and cause an accident. If the driver failed to properly load the truck or ignored warning signs that the truck was improperly loaded, they could be held liable for any accidents that result.

It's important to note that liability in truck accidents can be complex, and multiple parties may be responsible for the accident. It's always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.


Claims against the trucking company


Co-drivers can sometimes have claims against the trucking company for a crash that occurred during their employment. This is particularly true if the accident was caused by the trucking company's negligence in hiring or supervising drivers. For example, if the company failed to conduct adequate background checks or hire qualified drivers, they may be held responsible for any accidents caused by the driver's incompetence or recklessness. Co-drivers may also have claims against the trucking company if they were required to work long hours without adequate sleep, which could have contributed to the accident. Additionally, if the company created a culture of pressure that encouraged drivers to break traffic laws or drive unsafely, they could be held liable for any resulting accidents. In these cases, the co-driver may seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


Product Liability Claims


Truck drivers may sometimes have product liability claims for dangerous or defective parts that caused or contributed to a trucking accident. This is because manufacturers have a legal responsibility to ensure that their products are safe for use and free from defects. If a manufacturer produces a faulty part or fails to adequately warn about potential dangers associated with their product, they may be held liable for any resulting injuries or damages. In the case of a trucking accident, if a defective part such as faulty brakes or steering system contributed to the accident, the truck driver may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the part. This claim could seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.


Wrongful death claims


If the co-driver was killed in the accident, their surviving family members may have a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver or the trucking company.


It's important to note that every case is unique, and the specific legal rights of a co-driver after a trucking accident will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident. It's always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options.


Forms of Compensation Available In A Settlement or Jury Award


Personal injury lawsuits that result in a settlement or jury award can include several forms of compensation for the victim, including:


Medical expenses


This includes compensation for all medical expenses related to the injury, including hospital bills, doctor visits, medication costs, and rehabilitation expenses.


Lost wages


If the injury caused the victim to miss work or required them to take time off to recover, they may be entitled to compensation for their lost wages.


Property damage


If the injury resulted in damage to the victim's property, such as their car or home, they may be entitled to compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement.


Pain and suffering


This includes compensation for the physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by the injury, including mental anguish, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.


Punitive damages


In cases where the defendant's actions were particularly egregious or reckless, the victim may be entitled to punitive damages, which are intended to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.


The amount of compensation available in a personal injury lawsuit will depend on the specific circumstances of the case, including the severity of the injury, the impact on the victim's life, and the degree of fault of the defendant. It is important to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options and work to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.


When If I'm Partially Responsible For Causing The Crash As A Co-Driver?


There are situations in which a co-driver is responsible. When truck drivers and their co-driver are on the road, they often share responsibility for safety during trips. If a crash occurs, it may be difficult to determine who was truly at fault. Attorneys often have to examine all scenarios, including the possibility that the truck’s co-driver played a role in causing the crash. Perhaps they were distracted by texting or talking and missed an obstacle in the road that could not be avoided, for example. Or maybe fatigue caused them to become unresponsive or doze off momentarily. Regardless of how subtle their contribution might be, any negligence from either driver can endanger those around them and lead to tragic consequences. To avoid these situations, both the primary truck driver and co-driver need to remain highly alert at all times while on duty.


Motorists should be aware that if their co-drivers contribute to an accident through negligence or recklessness, they can be held accountable for any of the damages incurred as a result of the collision.


What If I’m An Independent Contractor?


Your status as an independent contractor does not in itself prevent you from being able to pursue compensation against the driver of the semi-truck. However, an attorney that regularly handles trucking accident claims is needed to help determine how liability would be determined in your circumstance.


While the primary responsibility of a co-driver typically involves helping out with navigation and paperwork, certain company policies also require the person occupying the outboard seating position to have various other roles that contribute to safe operation - including maintaining communication with dispatch and making any necessary stops along the way. After filing a bodily injury claim the insurance company and their defense counsel often attempt to place a proportionate responsibility on the driver, partially blaming them for what occurred.


No legal claims made against trucking companies are easy, even for passenger cars struck by 18 wheelers. All claims require meticulous analysis and strategic handling. It is essential that those injured in an auto accident speak with a qualified attorney as quickly as possible in order to navigate these complex legal issues.


What If I Was Off-Duty At The Time Of The Truck Crash?


Off-duty drivers in trucking accidents are protected under laws that hold the driver or company responsible for any injuries resulting from the crash. Essentially, off-duty drivers share the same rights as passengers in standard motor vehicle crashes and have the right to seek compensation against their driver or the at-fault responsible for the collision.


Driver’s not on duty are able to assert claims against the liability insurance policy purchased by the company. The Department of Transportation requires trucking companies to maintain insurance coverage ranging from $750,000 to $1,000,000, or more, allowing off-duty drivers access to a sizable coverage for their injuries and damages.

Common Injuries Co-Drivers Experience in 18 Wheeler Crashes


Co-drivers in a trucking accident can suffer a wide range of injuries, some of which can be severe and life-threatening. One of the most common injuries sustained by co-drivers in a trucking accident is fractures. These can occur due to the force of the impact or as a result of being ejected from the vehicle. Fractures can range in severity, from minor fractures that require a cast or splint to more serious fractures that require surgery.


Another common injury sustained by co-drivers in a trucking accident is a traumatic brain injuries. This occurs when the brain is jostled inside the skull due to the impact of the accident. Concussions can result in symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, confusion, and memory loss. In severe cases, they can also lead to long-term brain damage.


Burn injuries are also a common injury sustained by co-drivers in a trucking accident. These can occur if the truck catches fire or if hazardous materials are being transported. Burn injuries can range from mild to severe, with the most serious burns requiring extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.


Spinal cord injuries are also a common injury sustained by co-drivers in a trucking accident. These can occur due to the force of the impact or as a result of being ejected from the vehicle. Spinal injuries can result in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and paralysis. In severe cases, they can also lead to long-term disability.


In conclusion, co-drivers in a trucking accident can suffer a range of injuries, broken bones, concussions, burn injuries, and spinal injuries. It is important for co-drivers who have been injured in a trucking accident to seek medical attention immediately and to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to understand their legal rights and options for pursuing compensation.


Should I Accept Workers’ Compensation Benefits After Being Injured As A Co-Driver?


No. You should consult with legal counsel before deciding to quickly accept worker’s compensation benefits after the truck accident. Every situation is different and should be handled with care. However, generally, employers often act quickly to dissuade truckers from taking legal action against them, as a successful lawsuit could cost the company much more than if they were simply encouraging filing for workers’ compensation benefits. While this may initially bump up the employer's premiums, it ultimately protects their business interests in the long run and avoids the legal costs associated with a civil lawsuit.


Personal Injury Lawyers Specializing in Holding Trucking Companies Accountable In Co-Driver Accidents


Were you a passenger or in the sleeper cab when the co-driver caused your trucking accident? Sneed & Mitchell LLP can help you establish co-driver liability and pursue maximum compensation from the trucking company's insurance policy.


The experienced trucking accident attorneys of Sneed & Mitchell LLP attorneys help nationally and will conduct a comprehensive investigation, analyze your medical records, and hold all responsible parties accountable for your damages. Contact us today for a free consultation by calling (866) 434-0014 or using our online form. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay us if we successfully secure compensation for you. Learn the value of your claim today!





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