When a commercial driver is involved in an accident causing injuries, they are legally required to stop at the scene. They usually must assist any victims to the extent possible, in addition to providing information such as their driver’s license and proof of insurance. A “hit and run” is a crime under state laws, but unfortunately some truck drivers still leave the scene of an accident for various reasons. They might be concerned about a DUI charge if they have been driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, for example, or they may not want to add to a record of safety violations. If a truck driver does not have an appropriate driver’s license or insurance, they may not want to talk to the police.
Finding a Hit and Run Driver
If possible, victims should look for any logo, phone number, or vehicle identification number on the truck. They also should talk to any people who may have witnessed the accident. Cameras near the scene may provide photographic or video evidence.
Sometimes the police can track down a hit and run driver, but often they are never found. If this happens, a victim can bring a claim against their uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance provider if they have purchased this type of policy. They should remember that the UM/UIM provider is not on their side in this situation. To protect their bottom line, insurance companies try to avoid paying claims to the extent possible. Thus, a victim who has suffered catastrophic injuries should consult an attorney to help them navigate a UM/UIM claim.
Proving Liability for a Hit and Run Accident
Few truck drivers flee the scene of an accident if they were completely blameless. A hit and run thus usually indicates that careless or reckless behavior by the driver contributed to the accident. A thorough investigation of the events can reveal the details of what happened. A victim then can bring a negligence claim against the driver and any other party that may have been at fault, such as the trucking company that employed the driver.
A trucking company may be held liable for careless actions by an employee driver, even if the company did nothing wrong. This is known as vicarious liability, which applies whenever an employee causes an accident while they are on the job. Moreover, a trucking company may have shared responsibility for a hit and run accident. The company may have hired an unqualified driver, such as an unlicensed driver or a driver with a history of DUIs or serious safety violations. In other cases, a trucking company may have looked the other way as its drivers broke the rules. Trucking companies usually have much deeper pockets than individual drivers, which may allow a victim to recover more compensation.
A victim of a truck accident may recover both economic and non-economic damages. These may include:
Medical bills, including the costs of any necessary future treatment
Lost income and earning capacity
Household services and home modifications for permanent disabilities
Pain and suffering and emotional distress
Lost enjoyment of life
To protect their right to compensation, a victim must file a claim within the applicable statute of limitations. If they do not pursue legal action before this time window expires, a court may dismiss their case, even if the defendant was clearly at fault. Also, evidence may disappear quickly after a truck accident, complicating the process of proving liability. Victims thus have multiple reasons to file a claim promptly.