Colliding with a big rig is, perhaps, one of the scariest accidents a person can be involved in. If you are passenger in a vehicle, however, you may have an easier time collecting compensation for injuries and losses you sustain than if you were the driver, because you don't have to prove liability for the accident; you just have to know who to sue. Here are the various avenues for recompense available, and what you need to do to collect.
Suing the Driver of Your Vehicle
If the person driving the vehicle you were in was responsible for the accident, then you can file a claim for damages against the individual's insurance. You would essentially treat the situation like any other accident, and request the person's insurance information and file a claim.
However, there are two hiccups you may run into in this situation. If the driver of the vehicle doesn't have sufficient insurance or any insurance at all, then you'll have to file a claim under your own policy's uninsured/underinsured coverage or sue the person directly for the damages if the individual has sufficient assets.
Being closely related to the individual (e.g. spouse or child) and living in the same household will also present a problem. Typically, you may not be able to submit a claim against the insurance company because you may already be covered by the policy, and you cannot submit a liability claim against your own insurance company. You'll only be able to use the same recourse for compensation as the driver of the vehicle.
Suing the Other Driver
If the driver of the other vehicle is liable, then you can tap his or her insurance policy for your damages. Like before, you would simply get the insurance information and submit a claim or take the person to court (if he or she doesn't have insurance).
If you live in a comparative negligence state, though, you'll only be awarded the percentage amount the person was found liable. For instance, if the court or insurance company finds the person was only 60 percent liable for the accident, the individual will only have to pay 60 percent of your bill.
The good news is, as a passenger of the vehicle, you can file claims against both drivers and recoup the full amount owed. So if the driver of your vehicle was found 40 percent liable, then that person would be liable for paying the 40 percent of your bills still owed.
However, you cannot collect more than what's due. If you are hit with $10,000 in medical bills, you cannot submit a $10,000 claim to both insurance companies and expect to get paid the full amount by both ($20,000). The insurance companies (or drivers) will only be jointly responsible for paying their share of the $10,000.
Suing the Trucking Company
You may have a lawsuit against the trucking company as well if the driver of the big rig was acting on behalf of his or her employer at the time the incident occurred. Employers can be held vicariously liable for employees' acts if those acts occur while the employees are performing their job duties. For instance, if the truck driver was making deliveries for the company and caused the accident, you can hold the employer responsible for the damages the employee caused.
If the driver of the vehicle you were riding in is also suing the trucking company, you'll need to decide whether you will join that person's suit or launch your own. Joining up with the driver can lower the cost of litigation since you'll be using the same attorney and only have to worry about getting through one trial. At the same time, testimony and other factors in the case may hurt your chances of recovering the right amount of compensation.
For more information about getting compensated for injuries and losses you sustained in a vehicle accident with a truck, contact a personal injury lawyer from a firm like Gabrielson Law Offices, Ltd.