Question: Can I file a claim for personal injury following an accident while I was driving a company truck?
Question Detail: Workers Comp is working the claim now, but I'm wondering if I should trust them to protect my interests. Should I? The steer tire on my tractor blew out and the truck went into a ditch and where it then overturned. The tire on the right front was a retread. I had a concussion from the accident and had 2 surgeries and have another one in the works. I’m getting workers’ compensation benefits but wonder if I need to hire a lawyer to go collect otherwise. Attorney Lombardi, any help you can give me would be appreciated. Tell me, what should I do?
Answer: You should consider all options, but knowing if you have a separate suit is difficult. The first question is, who would you file suit against? This will be the primary question and one without a clear answer. I need more facts. In Iowa you would not be able to sue your employer; although, if there were evidence of gross negligence you could sue your supervisor or co-workers responsible for the defective equipment being in use. But that's a long shot and not one with a high rate of success.
Maintenance could be a window of legal liability that I would pursue. It will depend on where maintenance was performed and by whom. Many times your employer is a corporation and a separate corporation performs the maintenance on the trucks you drive. A separate corporation may also own the trucks. If in your situation this is true, then you may have a claim against the other company that maintained the vehicles for your employer. There is the remote possibility of a claim against the company performing the retreading, but again, that is remote.
So here is what to consider:
- Which company owned the trucks?
- Which company performed the maintenance?
- Which company was hired to perform maintenance?
- Which company was responsible for the retreading?
- Are these corporations different than the employer that paid you a wage?
Not an easy case, but if we can answer further questions give us a call.