- February 28, 2022
- Attorney David Mann
- Truck Accidents
How Is Fault in a Truck Accident Determined?
Are you looking to hold someone accountable and receive compensation for your truck accident injuries? When an accident is someone else’s fault, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover money for your injuries. The complicated part is figuring out who can be liable for a truck accident.
Why Do You Need to Determine Liability in a Truck Accident?
When you file a lawsuit, you need to sue the right person or business. Sometimes, this can mean suing more than one party because multiple parties share liability, or a judge needs to determine which of those parties is liable. If you sue the wrong party, you may lose your lawsuit, and it could be too late to file a new lawsuit against the correct party.
There are many possible causes for a truck accident, ranging from things the driver did to problems with the truck. The trucking industry often has complicated legal arrangements where different people may own the truck, trailer, and load. In order to succeed in a truck accident lawsuit, you have to identify the party whose actions caused the accident.
Is a Truck Driver Liable for a Truck Accident?
As in a car accident, there are many reasons why a truck driver can be liable for a truck accident. This can include unsafe driving like speeding, improper lane changes, or failure to yield. It can also include failing to follow trucking regulations, like working too many hours or failing to take the required rest periods. Finally, the truck driver has a responsibility to ensure that their truck is properly loaded and properly maintained. Any single act of negligence by the truck driver could be enough to make the driver liable.
Is a Trucking Company Liable for an Accident?
Many truck drivers are part of a trucking company. The trucking company’s liability depends on its legal relationship with the truck driver. If the truck driver is an employee, the trucking company is generally liable for anything their drivers do while performing their jobs.
It’s also common for trucking companies to hire truck drivers as contractors. Often, the trucking company may just be a broker that hires independent drivers for specific trips. The trucking company can still be liable if they fail to properly screen the drivers that work for them to make sure they’re safe drivers. The trucking company can also be liable if they encourage drivers to engage in unsafe behavior such as when the company sets unrealistic deadlines that require drivers to speed or go over their driving hours limit.
Is the Owner of a Truck Liable for a Truck Accident?
You also need to figure out who owns the truck that caused your accident. The truck owner has responsibility for maintaining the truck in a safe condition. This responsibility is higher than that of a driver, because the owner should be bringing the truck in for regular inspections and maintenance. In contrast, the truck driver can only do a limited safety check and report problems they experience.
The owner of a truck might be a driver, a trucking company, or a business that ships goods. In some cases, a driver or company leases the truck from a truck manufacturer or other company. For a leased truck, you need to figure out who had what maintenance obligations under the lease to determine who can be held liable if the truck was in an unsafe condition.
Can the Shipper be Liable for a Truck Accident?
When a truck driver takes a shipment, the truck often gets loaded by employees of a factory or distribution warehouse. The truck driver should visually inspect the load to make sure it’s secure, but they may not be able to see things like the fact that the loaders left a gap in the middle of their loaded box truck.
When cargo shifts or moves, it can cause the truck driver to lose control. Improperly secured cargo can also fall off and cause an accident with injuries. In many of these situations, the company that loaded the truck will share liability for the accident.
Can a Truck Manufacturer be Liable for an Accident?
The manufacturer of a truck or of its parts can be liable if there was a defect in the truck or a part. Common examples include tires that are prone to blowing out or braking systems that are unable to maintain the expected braking power. It’s important to figure out whether the problem occurred because of how the truck was made or because of lack of maintenance.
The manufacturer is liable when the problem was because of a bad design or something going wrong in the manufacturing process. To prove this, it can often be useful to show that there were similar accidents, safety incidents, or needed repairs on the same type of truck or truck part.
Can Other Parties be Liable for a Truck Accident?
There may have been other parties involved in your truck accident. The truck may have passed a safety inspection or weight check that it should have failed. A dispatcher may have scheduled the driver for an unsafe number of hours. A background check company may have missed something or not done a required drug test.
Trucking operations are very complex, and sometimes a single company handles all operations, while other times, every piece of the job gets outsourced. Any party who takes an action that could affect the safety of the truck may be liable if their action or inaction leads to a truck accident.
Get Help from an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer
If you’re not familiar with the trucking industry, you may not even know where to start in figuring out how to get the information you need to determine who was liable for your accident. An experienced truck accident lawyer knows what questions to ask and how to legally compel the trucking company to give you the information you need. To get help starting your truck accident claim, call (478) 742-3381 to speak with the trucking accident lawyers at Mann Law Firm.