What Happens If a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

What Happens If a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

If a truck driver leaves the scene of an accident, law enforcement officials and your truck accident lawyer will try to determine the identity of the fleeing driver.

Whether or not anyone can identify the truck driver who left your accident scene, your lawyer will seek compensation for your accident-related damages. If your lawyer or law enforcement officials can identify the liable trucker, you can sue the trucking company for damages. If not, you may get compensation through an insurance claim.

If a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident Guide

What to Do After a Hit-and-Run Accident Involving a Truck Driver

What Happens If a Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident

 You may have already alerted law enforcement officials, left the scene of your accident, and received some medical care.

If this is the case:

  • Secure any evidence related to your accident: You should already consider building a case against the at-fault trucker and their employer. You may photograph damage to your vehicle, write down your recollection of the accident (and any details about the truck or truck driver), and safeguard any other potentially useful evidence.
  • Document damages: You may take photographs of visible injuries, get an estimate for repairing or replacing your vehicle, keep a journal of your physical and psychological pain, and keep all medical records related to your accident.
  • Receive additional medical care as soon as possible: While you may have already received treatment for accident-related injuries, some injuries may not show symptoms until days (or even weeks) after your accident. You should receive a certain diagnosis for all of your injuries, get documentation of those injuries (including medical images), and have a clear recovery plan.
  • Hire a truck accident attorney to advise, protect, and fight for you: Many victims of hit-and-run accidents hire lawyers to seek fair compensation. Truck accidents are complex in their own right. The case may become exponentially more complex when a truck accident becomes a hit-and-run accident.
  • Hiring a lawyer may even be the first step you take. An attorney will ensure that you receive the medical care you need, and they will immediately seek out evidence and documentation related to your case.

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    Why Truck Drivers May Leave an Accident Scene

    Truck drivers may leave the scene of an accident for several reasons:

    • A drunk truck driver caused the accident.
    • The driver was under the influence of legal or illicit drugs at the time of the accident.
    • The driver feared that they had caused serious injury or the death of you or other accident victims.
    • The driver was not supposed to drive their rig at the time of the accident due to license-related restrictions (and may not have been working at the time of your accident).
    • The truck driver violated industry regulations, such as hours of service restrictions, that can expose them to termination and other sanctions
    • The driver might not have noticed the collision due to the size and noise from the rig.

    Truck drivers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and trucking companies generally carry substantial insurance covering their drivers. For these reasons, the truck driver may not have fled your accident scene due to lack of insurance. However, insurance-related issues may have contributed to the driver’s decision to leave the scene.

    What Makes the Driver’s Reason for Leaving Your Accident Scene Relevant to Your Case?

    Truck accident attorneys gather all relevant information about truck accidents, and the driver’s reason for leaving your accident scene can affect your case.

    As one example, say the driver left your accident scene because they drove under the influence of alcohol. This may indicate that the driver’s employer failed to adequately screen its drivers for impairment, which will make the company negligent.

    Your attorney may have a clear case of negligence by both the intoxicated truck driver and their employer. This is just one instance in which the driver’s reason for fleeing can affect how your lawyer seeks compensation and who they seek compensation from.

    Who Can You Hold Financially Responsible for an Accident When the Truck Driver Leaves the Scene of an Accident?

    If law enforcement officials or your lawyer can identify the fleeing truck driver, they, their employer, and their insurance company may be financially responsible for your accident-related damages.

    If authorities do not find the trucker who fled your accident scene, you may need to seek compensation through your own insurance.

    To be clear, your options for seeking compensation after a hit-and-run truck accident may include the following:

    An Uninsured Motorist Claim Through Your Auto Insurer

    Motorists in Texas (and other states) can purchase insurance coverage for accidents involving uninsured and underinsured motorists. When a motorist flees an accident scene and authorities never find them, insurers treat the situation like an uninsured motorist claim.

    If you cannot locate the at-fault motorist, filing an uninsured motorist claim may be the only way to seek compensation. However, an uninsured motorist claim will not be necessary if you find out who the fleeing motorist is.

    A Third-Party Insurance Claim with the Truck Drivers’ Insurer

    If your attorney determines who the fleeing truck driver is, they may file a claim with their (or their employer’s) insurer.

    Texas is an at-fault state when it comes to auto insurance, which means that:

    • The insurer for the at-fault motorist in a truck accident is responsible for the victim’s damages.
    • If the truck driver who fled your accident scene caused your accident, their insurer or employer’s insurer may be financially responsible for your accident-related losses.

    The cost of your damages may affect whether to pursue an insurance claim or file a lawsuit. If the liable parties’ insurers lack the coverage necessary to reimburse your damages, or their insurers refuse to provide fair compensation, you and your lawyer may file a lawsuit.

    A Lawsuit Against the Liable Trucking Company (or Other Liable Parties)

    Filing a lawsuit is a potential way to get compensation if authorities find the truck driver who left your accident scene.

    If you file a lawsuit:

    • You may hold the fleeing motorist and their employer fully accountable: Fleeing the scene of an accident puts victims in danger. The truck driver should have ensured you did not have life-threatening injuries but instead left the scene. A lawsuit is a way to hold the driver and their employer accountable, whether or not the truck driver faces criminal charges.
    • You can seek compensation for a wider range of damages: Truck accident victims can seek compensation for additional damages through a lawsuit, including punitive damages. A judge or jury can award punitive damages following a trial if the conduct that caused the accident was severe enough.

    An attorney will advise you on the most appropriate approach for your circumstances. Filing a lawsuit signals you are serious about getting full compensation and having an experienced litigator handling your claim can send a strong message to insurers.

    Why SHould Victims of Hit-and-Run Truck Accidents Hire Truck Accident Lawyers to Represent Them?

    You want to hire a truck accident lawyer for several compelling reasons:

    • The need to get evidence from trucking companies: Truck accident cases are unique because the liable party may have valuable evidence for your case. The truck involved in the accident, specifically the data in the truck’s black box, may be useful to your case. An attorney may need to take legal action to secure that evidence.
    • The complexity of truck accidents: Truck accidents can be complicated, so diagnosing the cause of a truck accident may require resources and effort. An attorney can work with transportation experts to diagnose the cause of the truck accident, whether it was driver error, truck defects, or otherwise.
    • The legal knowledge required to complete a lawsuit: Completing a lawsuit involves filing paperwork, dealing with courts, and understanding how to negotiate a settlement. If you are not a lawyer, it may be immensely difficult for you to complete a lawsuit. If you can’t complete a lawsuit, you may have no leverage when negotiating with insurance companies.
    • The financial cost of completing a case: Between filing costs, expert fees, and time costs, it can be expensive to complete a truck accident claim or lawsuit. Your lawyer and their firm will cover this cost if you hire an attorney. 
    • The physical and cognitive demands of completing a truck accident case: If you hope to put forth a strong case for compensation, you may exert yourself physically and mentally. This can cause stress that worsens accident-related injuries and negatively affects your mental health.

    If you suffered injuries during your truck accident, focusing on your health and recovery may be the responsible decision. By hiring an attorney, you can rest and recover while your lawyer handles your case.

    What Damages Will a Truck Accident Lawyer Seek Compensation For?

    Your attorney will seek compensation for any accident-related damages you’ve suffered. Those damages may include:

    Pain and Suffering

    Accident victims often experience pain and suffering, which can include:

    • Injury-related pain
    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Emotional anguish
    • Psychological distress
    • Lost quality of life
    • Depression 
    • Anxiety

    Your attorney will work with mental health experts to diagnose, understand, and value your pain and suffering.

    Medical Expenses

    Your attorney will seek compensation for all of your accident-related medical expenses.

    Injuries that cause long-term symptoms or disability may require extensive and costly care, including:

    • Hospitalization
    • Medications
    • Surgery
    • Rehabilitation
    • In-home care 
    • Ongoing visits with medical specialists 
    • Medical equipment

    Even if you recover from your injuries relatively quickly, you should get compensation covering your accident-related medical costs.

    Lost Income and Other Professional Damages

    Truck accidents can cause life-altering injuries.

    Your truck accident may prevent you from working, which may cause:

    • Lost income
    • Diminished earning power
    • Lost opportunities for promotions and bonuses
    • Lost benefits from your job
    • Lost progress in your career
    • Loss of fulfillment and enjoyment you derive from working

    Your pre-accident income and employment status may largely determine the professional and financial cost of your accident.

    Property Expenses

    A truck accident can cause several property-related expenses, including the cost of:

    • Repairing a damaged vehicle
    • Replacing a totaled vehicle
    • Repairing or replacing other property damaged during the accident
    • Temporary transportation 
    • Purchasing a disability-friendly vehicle 
    • Making disability-related alterations to your home

    If your attorney has to pursue an uninsured motorist insurance claim, they may be limited to seeking compensation for medical care, vehicle damage, and other covered losses. If they identify the trucker and their employer, they may file a lawsuit and seek compensation for all accident-related damages.

    How a Truck Accident Lawyer Will Fight for the Financial Recovery You Deserve

    Your truck accident lawyer will make it their mission to get the most compensation possible for you. The cost of your accident-related damages will determine how much compensation your lawyer seeks.

    Your attorney may fight for that compensation by:

    • Working with law enforcement to identify the truck driver who left your accident scene
    • Determining who the truck driver’s employer is
    • Determining whether to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit
    • Securing all relevant evidence related to your accident
    • Documenting your accident-related damages
    • Negotiating a settlement with those responsible for paying you (which may be an insurance company)
    • Taking your case to court if necessary

    Your attorney may take your case to trial if liable parties do not offer a fair settlement. However, your attorney should be persistent in seeking a settlement, as settling is a more efficient and cost-effective means of resolving a civil case than going to trial.

    Get Help From a Truck Accident Lawyer Today

    The sooner you hire a personal injury lawyer, the sooner you can focus on your recovery while your attorney pursues a financial recovery. Your lawyer may face a filing deadline for your case, so don’t wait to find and hire an attorney who you trust.