Suing Insurance Companies For Trucking Companies: A Good Option in Georgia

When a trucking company is sued, typically it is sued on the basis of an employer/employee relationship. The truck driver/employee falls asleep due to fatigue and injures an innocent third party on a highway. A lawsuit can be filed in such a case against both the employee and the trucking company. Here in Georgia, there is a statute (O.C.G.A. § 46-7-12) which also permits the injured individual to file a direct action against the insurance carrier for the trucking company. The legislative intent here was to recognize that the insurance contract between the trucking company and the insurance carrier, was in reality, a contract for the benefit of the innocent member of the public injured by the trucking company’s employee. Thus, in an accident where an innocent member of the public is injured by a trucking company operating in interstate commerce, the injured individual may sue either the truck driver alone, the trucking company and the truck driver or all three or any combination thereof.

lawsuitFor strategic reasons, if the jury knows that there is insurance coverage available to provide redress for the injured victim, this may assist the jury in making sure that the injured individual is adequately compensated for their damages without worrying about the economic impact upon the driver and/or the company. Of course, defense attorneys would argue that the availability of such insurance coverage could drive jury verdicts upwards but, this was considered by the Georgia Legislature when this unique statute was passed. Thus, all practitioners should be aware that they have the right to name in a direct action the insurance carrier at the inception of a lawsuit. In Georgia, this rule is quite different from any other rule because by operation of law as a general proposition, one may never sue an insurance carrier until a judgment is first obtained against the insured covered by the insurance contract. The exception is in the trucking context and in that regard the injured victim does have a right to sue the insurance carrier at the beginning of the lawsuit naming the insurance carrier as a defendant. This option should be exercised in most all cases except where there are legitimate reasons to do otherwise.

Because of these unique provisions of Georgia law, again, an injured individual with a claim against an interstate trucking company should confer with experienced counsel as soon as possible to explore all available options.

If you need legal help for your accident please contact us today.


About Richard Hendrix

Richard W. Hendrix is a former state and federal prosecutor who has more than 30 years of experience in complex civil and criminal litigation. He has also served as a mediator in Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR).

Since joining Finch McCranie in 1985, Mr. Hendrix has built an extensive litigation practice focusing on wrongful death and serious personal injury cases as well as federal white collar criminal defense cases. He has successfully represented injured parties in personal injury cases throughout the state of Georgia. Mr. Hendrix has also effectively defended business and individuals, including a former US Congressman, against indictments and grand jury investigations. In 2006 and 2008-2012, he was selected to Georgia Super Lawyers.

He is admitted to practice in Georgia and South Carolina. Mr. Hendrix is licensed to appear before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia and the District of South Carolina as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, Fifth Circuit, and Eleventh Circuit.

From 1979-1985, Mr. Hendrix served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. He was also Associate Independent Counsel for the investigation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1991-1992.

Mr. Hendrix graduated with cum laude honors from Davidson College and he received his law degree from Emory University. Since 1992, Mr. Hendrix has been an Adjunct Professor of Litigation at Georgia State University College of Law. He is also a Master of the Bench with the Lamar American Inn of Court where he works to enhance the professional, ethics and skills of the legal community.

Mr. Hendrix has also authored numerous articles including: “High Speed Police Chases and Injured Innocent By-Standers,” The Verdict (Summer, 2015) “Tolling the Statute of Limitations in Tort Cases for Victims of a Crime,” The Verdict (Fall, 2007); “A Refresher On the Federal Tort Claims Act,” The Verdict (Winter, 1999); “Rule 16 and the Jencks Act: A Need for Legal Reform,” Calendar Call (Winter, 1996); “Corporate Criminal Liability: The Need for Effective Compliance Programs,” South Carolina Lawyer (March/April, 1993); “Crossing State Lines in Wrongful Death Actions: Traps for the Unwary,” The Verdict (Fall, 1990); and “White Collar Crime: New Tools for Prosecution,” The Atlanta Lawyer (Summer, 1986)