How To Sue a Trucking Company 

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The size and weight of commercial trucks make them particularly dangerous in accidents with smaller vehicles. In many cases, truck driver negligence causes these accidents. But the trucking company may also be responsible. 

Sorting out liability in truck accident lawsuits in West Virginia is critical to exercising your right to full compensation for your injuries. These cases are complex, and you need a law firm with significant experience handling these claims to help you file and argue your case. 

When Can I Sue a Trucking Company?

You can sue a trucking company when one of its drivers causes an accident through a wrongful act or negligence. Relying on the doctrine of respondeat superior, the Supreme Court of West Virginia has held that trucking companies can be held responsible when their drivers cause accidents while operating within the scope of their employment. Courtless v. Jolliffe, 203 W.Va. 258 (1998) (per curiam). The Court explained as follows: 

The universally recognized rule is that an employer is liable to a third person for any injury . . . which results proximately from [the wrongful] conduct of an employee acting within the scope of [their] employment. The negligent or [wrongful] act may be imputed to the employer if . . . done in accordance with the expressed or implied authority of the employer.” 

For example, you can sue a trucking company directly when a negligent truck driver causes an accident while hauling a load as part of their work duties. By contrast, the company may not be liable if the driver was using the truck for personal reasons. For example, citing Courtless, the Court has explained that “[t]he doctrine of respondeat superior is not typically applicable while [an] employee is coming or going to work.” Roof Serv. of Bridgeport, Inc. v. Trent, 854 S.E.2d 302 (W. Va. 2020). 

There are also many reasons negligence on the part of a trucking company may lead to a lawsuit, including: 

  • Failing to maintain their trucks 
  • Violating federal regulations, such as not having required braking systems 
  • Ignoring driver violations, such as driving too long without breaks 
  • Failing to conduct proper driving history and licensing checks on drivers 
  • Allowing truckers to be over-loaded 

If you want to file a truck accident lawsuit, you should partner with a law firm experienced in taking on trucking companies. You can count on the seasoned truck accident attorneys at Warner Law Offices to build the strongest case possible on your behalf. Our case results speak for themselves.  

How To Start a Truck Accident Claim

There are several steps to take after a truck accident to start building a strong claim against a trucking company: 

  1. Seek Medical Attention – Immediately after the accident, prioritize your health and safety. Seek medical attention for any injuries, even if they seem minor. 
  2. Report the Accident – Contact law enforcement to report the truck accident. They will document the scene, gather information, and create an official report. This report will be essential for your claim. 
  3. Gather Evidence – Collect evidence from the accident scene, including photographs of the vehicles involved, skid marks, road conditions, and any visible injuries. Obtain contact information from witnesses. 
  4. Notify Your Insurance Company – Inform your insurance company about the truck accident as soon as possible. Ideally, your truck accident attorney will do this for you. Provide them with basic details, but avoid admitting fault or giving recorded statements without legal guidance.  
  5. Preserve Evidence – Preserve any evidence you have related to the accident, such as vehicle damage, medical records, repair estimates, and receipts for expenses incurred due to the accident. 
  6. Investigate Liability – Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine liability for the accident. This may involve examining the truck driver’s logbooks, the trucking company’s maintenance records, applicable regulations, and examining the black box of the truck. 
  7. Negotiate a Settlement – Your attorney will negotiate with the trucking company’s insurance company on your behalf to seek fair compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. 
  8. Consider Litigation – If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, your attorney may recommend filing a lawsuit to pursue compensation through the court system. 

Most personal injury cases are resolved in out-of-court settlement negotiations. However, if necessary, we have the skills, expertise, and resources needed to take your case to court. Remember, it is critical that your case be filed before the West Virginia statute of limitations for truck accidents expires. The presiding judge will likely dismiss your claim if you miss this deadline. Do not wait to take legal action. 

Comparative Negligence Laws

West Virginia courts use a modified comparative negligence standard. This is a legal principle used in personal injury cases, including those involving truck accidents, to determine the extent to which each party involved is responsible for the damages incurred. Under this doctrine, the presiding court assigns a percentage of fault to each party based on their degree of negligence.  

In a modified comparative negligence system, an injured party can still recover damages even if they were partially at fault for the accident. However, their recovery is reduced by their percentage of fault. Further, if a plaintiff bears more than half of the responsibility for causing the accident, their damages are reduced to zero.  

For example, a judge or jury may determine you were 20 percent responsible for your truck accident. This means if you sustained $1 million in damages, your compensable damages are reduced to $800,000. Responsibility for paying your damages is split between the at-fault parties based on their levels of responsibility. 

Sorting out liability in a commercial truck accident is one of the critical functions of your attorney. You may miss out on compensation if you fail to name all responsible parties in your truck accident lawsuit. Naming the driver and the trucking company may not be enough. For example, a government entity responsible for road maintenance or the manufacturer of a defective truck part may also take on liability. 

After a truck accident, your priority should be to focus on healing and helping your family through this difficult time. Let our knowledgeable, compassionate truck legal team handle the complexities of your case while you focus on your recovery.  

Bobby Warner - truck accident attorney quote
Bobby Warner - truck accident attorney quote

What Types of Damages Can I Sue For In a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

You can sue a trucking company and other liable parties to recover compensation for your economic and non-economic harm caused by a truck accident. Economic damages cover your financial losses, while non-economic damages compensate you for the more subjective ways the accident affected your life. These compensatory damages may include: 

  • Current and future medical and rehabilitation costs 
  • Lost wages and future earnings 
  • The cost to modify your home or vehicle to accommodate your injuries 
  • Nursing assistance or other home care 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Emotional distress 
  • Loss of consortium 
  • Disfigurement 
  • Loss of quality of life 

If your loved one passed away in a truck accident, you can also file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking damages for funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and the medical expenses associated with your loved one’s fatal injuries.   

West Virginia courts may also allow you to pursue punitive damages. This form of damages is reserved for cases where your attorney can show through clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with “malice toward [you] or a conscious, reckless, and outrageous indifference to the health, safety, and welfare of others.” Cases involving intoxicated drivers or trucking companies with a history of hiring untrained drivers may present opportunities to seek punitive damages. 

How Long Does a Truck Accident Lawsuit Take to Settle?

The time it takes to settle a truck accident lawsuit can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent of the injuries and damages involved, and the willingness of the parties to negotiate a settlement. In general, truck accident lawsuits may take anywhere from several months to over a year to reach a settlement. 

It’s essential to be patient and allow sufficient time for the legal process to unfold properly while working closely with an experienced truck accident attorney to pursue fair compensation for your injuries and damages. Remember, though an early settlement offer from a trucking company’s insurers may seem tempting, chances are it significantly undervalues your claim. Do not accept before consulting with an experienced truck accident attorney. 

Contact Us for Help Suing a Trucking Company

If you have questions about how to sue a trucking company or are ready to file a claim, contact Warner Law Offices, PLLC, by calling (304) 345-6789 or completing our online contact form for a free consultation. We are a full-service personal injury law firm serving communities throughout West Virginia. Let us put our decades of personal injury experience and proven track record of success to work for you. 

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Attorney Bobby Warner
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Bobby Warner

Bobby has received many accolades throughout the years from both his peers in the legal community, as well as the media. The National Trial Lawyers association named Bobby a Top 100 Trial Lawyer and he has been selected as a Member of the Nation’s Top One Percent. Additionally, he has been named a Best Attorneys of America by Rue Ratings, which also named Warner Law Offices to its Best Law Firms of America.