What if the Vehicle That Hit Me Was an 18-Wheeler?

If you’ve been in an accident involving an 18-wheeler truck, you need to understand that your claim will be handled much more-aggressively—and with much more scrutiny—than a “normal” (passenger-car-only) wreck.

While regular cars generally have around $60,000 in liability coverage, 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks are usually insured for well over $1 million. As such, commercial insurance companies will aggressively defend their drivers, and will use any reason (valid or not) to either deny your claim or deflect liability elsewhere (often back onto you). Commercial insurance adjusters are seasoned, ruthless, and often unscrupulous in their methods. They’ll look into your criminal history, your medical history, and even your social media—all in an effort to discredit you or paint you as an unsafe driver.

Settling an accident injury claim involving an 18-wheeler truck will not be quick or easy, as the insurance company’s only goal is to deny, delay, and defend at every turn. These adjusters have worked their way up from handling small (low value) car accident claims to now defending multimillion-dollar policies, and they know every single trick in the book.

Most people don’t know this, but truck drivers are also subject to additional regulations set forth by the FMCSA. If it can be shown that the truck driver who caused your accident was violating any of these rules (e.g., hours of service [HOS], mobile phone use, vehicle maintenance, drug testing violations, etc.), you stand a much greater chance at a successful claim. In order to determine this, though, you or your attorney must act quickly to obtain the truck’s ECM (black box) data and driver logbooks.

Another unique factor to consider is that the transportation company who hired the truck driver may also share in liability under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior.” This is particularly true in situations where the trucking company either failed to perform a background check on the driver, failed to drug test, or ignored FMCSA rule violations.

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