Truck accidents are a different beast than your average automobile crash because they involve much larger vehicles and, in turn, much more destruction. Additionally, truck accidents have a commercial component to them, which means higher safety standards and levels of responsibility. Although who will be responsible for the truck accident liability?
Sadly, truck accidents are not rare, according to the United States Department of Transportation. In a recent year, individuals reported over 400,000 truck accidents to police agencies across the country. Even more devastating is the fact that over 100,000 of those accidents led to injuries, and nearly 5,000 caused fatalities.
With so much destruction, it is hard not to wonder who should face truck accident liability for these devastating wrecks. Unlike automobile accidents between private individuals, the answer often encompasses more than just the driver.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?
Understanding who you can hold liable for a truck accident depends on the specific circumstances of the incident. The truck driver is likely the first person who comes to mind. However, many parties may also face truck accident liability after a crash.
Commercial truck drivers have an enormous responsibility to their employers and the public when operating big rig trucks. Hence, they must comply with various requirements and regulations, including licensing and vehicle operation requirements.
For example, truckers must obtain and maintain a commercial driver’s license as well as specific endorsements for the type of vehicle and cargo they will be transporting. Additionally, drivers must obey detailed out-of-service requirements that prevent them from driving too many hours in a certain period.
Drivers must also perform safety inspections of their vehicles and maintain a logbook detailing their inspections. The logbook must also demonstrate that they comply with out-of-service requirements.
Failure to meet any trucker requirement puts the public at risk and directly exposes a driver to truck accident liability.
The Trucking Company
Commercial trucking companies are directly responsible for the drivers they put on the highway. They must ensure that their drivers have the proper training, licensing, and endorsements, and they must also make sure that their drivers do not have histories of violations that make them more likely to be a threat on the highway.
Sadly, some trucking companies put profit above safety and take risks with untrained drivers and drivers with histories of regularly violating trucking industry safety regulations. Trucking companies can also face truck accident liability if they negligently service the trucks their drivers use.
Another way a trucking company might be held liable is through the doctrine of respondeat superior vicarious liability. This theory of liability holds that an employer can face liability for the acts of its employees if the employee was engaged in the normal discharge of their business duties.
Hence, the liability of a trucker who causes an accident while on the clock can also be placed at the foot of the trucking company that employs them. However, if the trucker is self-employed or an independent contractor, it may be more difficult to hold the trucking company liable for this truck accident liability.
Cargo and Loading Company
Some truck accidents occur due to problems with the cargo. Perhaps the loaders failed to tie or strap a load down correctly. Or maybe they overloaded a trailer beyond its capacity. Whatever the reason, some of the blame for an accident in this context may lie squarely with the cargo company and its loaders.
Vehicle and Equipment Manufacturers, Distributors, or Suppliers
Commercial truck drivers depend on their vehicles and associated equipment to function safely. However, accidents can result when certain parties know about trucking parts and equipment defects, such as problems with tires, engines, and brakes, and fail to address them.
In these situations, numerous parties could be on the hook for compensating the victim. Parties that might be held to pay for truck accident liability could include:
- The designer
- The manufacturer
- The distributor
- The retailer
A truck or equipment rental business may also be on the hook if they supply a trucker with a vehicle or equipment they knew or should have known to be defective.
Many trucking companies have in-house fleet operations that take care of their big rigs. However, many use third-party truck mechanic businesses, as do truckers who are independent contractors. If a truck mechanic fails in their duty to service a truck safely, they can be held to pay for the losses resulting from a crash caused by their failure.
Government Entities and Contractors
Government agencies and contractors are responsible for keeping the road safe. If a road construction project contains defects, or if construction professionals did not complete it in a safe manner, then the government agency or a contractor may face truck accident liability for resultant wrecks. If you are hurt by government actors, you deserve compensation just like other injury claims. Know about the Virginia tort claims act.
Multiple Parties Are Responsible for Truck Accident Liability
Frequently, more than one party is responsible for a trucking accident. When this is the case, each of the potentially liable parties will likely put up a vigorous defense against any allegations of negligence. It is also not uncommon to see these parties accuse one another of negligence.
The complexities involved with multiple parties make it important for victims to seek skilled representation from a law firm experienced in truck accident cases. Without a truck accident attorney, a victim can expect to recover far less compensation than they truly deserve to get. They may even see an outright denial of their claim.
If you are from Maryland, you can contact the Baltimore Truck Accident Lawyer to understand your case better.
Next Steps – Truck Accident Liability
If you have been in a truck accident, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for your suffering and losses. The Joel Bieber Firm can potentially help you recover a valuable settlement or verdict that will help you absorb your losses and plan for the future. Call our office today for a free consultation and complimentary case review.