Injured in a Minnesota Semi Accident? Here’s How Liability Works
Semi-trucks are vital to our nation’s infrastructure and are a primary means for transporting essential goods all over the country.
Most semis are operated by skilled professionals, and the vehicles are well-maintained by either the vehicle’s independent operator or the driver’s managing company. However, semi-truck accidents can and do happen, often with devastating results.
In 2018, nearly 3,000 Minnesotans were involved in semi-truck accidents, and 44 were killed. Moreover, traffic deaths are currently increasing in Minnesota. Tragically, many of these accidents could have been prevented but for the negligence of the truck’s operator.
If you are a semi accident victim, you are entitled to monetary compensation to recover from your injuries. We’ve put together a guide covering how semi-truck accident liability works in Minnesota, and what compensation you can receive by filing a personal injury claim.
Holding Trucking Companies Accountable for their Actions
Trucking companies owe other motorists on the road a duty of care to operate their fleets safely and should be held liable for any damages resulting from breaching this duty of care.
In Minnesota semi-truck accidents, liability must be established at the state level and is subject to comparative fault legislation. In this regard, there are two important aspects of semi-truck liability, including proving negligence and the degree of fault.
Proving Negligence to Establish Fault
In Minnesota, trucking companies or truck operators can be held liable for semi-truck accidents if it can be proven that their negligence in some way contributed to the accident.
Negligence is defined as breaching a duty of care legally owed to the accident’s victim, and in the context of semi-truck accidents could result from a variety of actions or inactions, including but not limited to:
- Driver fatigue
- Driver intoxication or chemical substance abuse
- Overweight or improperly secured loads
- Improper maintenance
- Excessive speed
- Reckless driving
Minnesota is a comparative negligence state, meaning that two (or more) parties could share liability for the same accident.
Liability is divided proportionally to each party’s fault. For example, if a court determines that you were 25 percent responsible for the accident, you would be entitled to damages worth 75 percent of your total claim, as the truck operator is considered to be 75 percent liable for the accident.
In some cases, more than two parties could even be liable. This could include other motorists involved in the accident, or multiple contributing factors on the part of the semi, for example, both the trucking company and the truck’s manufacturer.
Semi-truck Accident Victims are Entitled to Compensation
After you have established liability on the part of the semi-truck operator, the case will move on to the stage of determining the appropriate compensation.
This is one of the most important aspects of a personal injury claim and is often overlooked by accident victims. Under the law, you can only recover compensation for damages that you can prove. This means providing documentation and in some cases expert testimony.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you could be entitled to damages for some of the following losses:
- Damage to your vehicle
- Medical expenses, including emergency and ongoing treatment for your injuries
- Lost income, including future wages that will be lost as a result of permanent or long-lasting disability
- Future medical costs for ongoing treatment
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological distress
- Loss of quality of life
Semi-truck accidents often cause devastating injuries and material losses. If the truck’s operator is liable, even in part, for the accident, you are entitled to damages to recover financially from your injuries.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated Attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.