Trucking companies are well-known for vigorously defending accidents involving their rolling stock, and they often defend their drivers as well. Even when the truck is leased from an owner-operator, the drivers are still company employees. And, this is not to mention insurance provider input into settling any accident claims. Here are a few factors that make Tennessee truck accident injury cases unique when it comes time to negotiate a settlement.
The first issue in a truck accident is the investigations conducted by the DOT and local law enforcement. Truck accidents can be complicated reconstructions, and the official report is not always the final say in fault. Plus, trucking companies dispatch their own investigation teams to the scene in hopes of impacting the final results, and especially in Tennessee where the 50% comparative negligence rule is applied when accident injuries are claimed. Injured drivers can be denied claims if they are at least 50% at fault for the accident even when passenger injury claims are allowed.
The next serious concern is vicarious liability in independent owner accidents. Trucking companies often attempt to use the leasing contract as a method of claiming no responsibility for causation, but the truth is that companies require certain actions by their drivers that can result in accidents. Requiring shortcuts regarding truck inspections or other rules and regulations due to meeting delivery schedules can expose the company for liability as well as the driver. Fatigue and overwork are often major factors in proving company liability.
Another issue is the fact that Tennessee law caps the amount of general damages that may be awarded to accident victims. Truck accidents commonly create catastrophic injuries that require extensive financial recovery in making the victim whole after the fact. However, the limit in the state is set at $1 million for catastrophic injury and $750,000 for lesser general damage claims. All Tennessee personal injury attorneys understand these limitations and adjudication problems, and they work diligently in maximizing truck accident claim awards.