Big truck accidents are often among some of the scariest types of accidents. The sometimes hazardous loads, heavy weight, and sheer size of commercial trucks make these accidents especially dangerous. Unfortunately, when the accident is over, the fear and struggle often don't end there. Accidents with large trucks may cause severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment that result in large bills. Additionally, fighting truck companies and their insurance companies and legal teams may also be a hard-fought battle. Within this battle, liability could be a particularly difficult question; in truck accidents, one or multiple parties may be responsible, and proving liability can be a challenge. In this blog, we're addressing this big question.
If you've been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, we highly advise you to consult a semi-truck accident lawyer. Typically, truck companies come with multiple insurance adjusters and even more lawyers. This makes protecting your right to recover even more difficult. Our semi-truck accident lawyers at Impact Legal will fight for you – give us a call or text at 602-345-1818 or fill out our convenient online form, and we will reach out to you to schedule your free initial case review.
When the Truck Driver is Liable
Liability in a truck accident can be complex and tricky. Multiple parties may turn out to be liable. Commonly, the truck driver is among the liable parties in a truck accident. In these cases, driver negligence is often the contributing factor. Examples of driver negligence include:
- Not following the rules of the road, such as observing traffic signs
- Distracted driving
- Driving while tired
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Other driver errors
Federal regulations are in place to ensure drivers operate and maintain trucks as carefully as possible. These regulations include things like limitations on the number of hours a trucker is allowed to be on the road, cargo inspection procedures, and more.
When the Truck Company Is Liable
Another common liable party in a semi-truck accident case is the company that employs the driver. Your semi-truck accident lawyer will carefully assess the working relationship between the driver and the truck company to determine if the trucking company can be held liable for the accident. Often, truck companies try to claim that drivers are independent contractors in an effort to relieve the company from liability. However, sometimes, truck companies that hire truckers who call themselves “independent contractors” can be held liable. Your lawyer will use his or her experience and gather specific evidence to determine if employer liability exists in your case.
Some examples of factors that may make the truck company liable for an accident include:
- Poor truck maintenance - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that truck companies maintain their trucks to meet specific conditions. These conditions include keeping up with regular, specified inspections, ensuring that parts and accessories are safe and operable, and that records on such repairs and inspections are maintained.
- Hours of service (HOS) breach - The FMCSA also mandates how many hours a driver can operate his or her truck per day and per week, as well as enforces driver breaks. Some truck companies try to get around these mandates and persuade drivers to ignore them by implementing various quota obligations and logbook workarounds.
- Bad Hiring Practices - Truck companies have a duty to hire qualified and safe drivers, however, sometimes employers have negligent hiring practices. Some examples of bad hiring practices include hiring a driver without conducting a background check, hiring someone with no Commercial Drivers' License (CDL), or hiring someone with a negative driving record.
When the Shipping Company Is Liable
Sometimes the company shipping the load is liable. Typically, in these cases, the shipping company has improperly loaded the truck. Common loading issues include:
Some common loading mistakes include:
- Using the incorrect size, strength, and number of tie-downs
- Using old or worn tie-downs
- Improper blocking and bracing
- Uneven distribution of cargo
- Obstructing the operator's view with the cargo load
- Loading cargo above legal limits
- Failing to confirm appropriate cargo-loading work upon inspection
Note that improperly loaded cargo may be the fault of parties other than the shipping company, such as the driver of the truck, the trucking company, or loading supervisors.
Other Potentially Liable Parties
Many people are involved in the process to ensure that a commercial truck operates safely and according to federal regulations. As a result, many people may be liable when preventable accidents happen. Some additional potentially liable parties not yet mentioned in this article include the truck mechanic, the truck or trailer manufacturer/designer, the owner of the truck (sometimes the owner is not the truck company or the driver), or the company leasing the truck. Multiple defendants come with multiple insurance adjusters and attorneys. This makes hiring a semi-truck accident lawyer extremely necessary. If you've been in an accident with a large commercial truck, don't wait – call our lawyers at Impact Legal today.
Consult with a Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer Today
At Impact Legal, our accident lawyers are waiting to help you recover after an unexpected injury. Don't let your medical bills and other expenses pile up. Call or text us today at 602-345-1818 to reserve your free initial consultation where we will review your case and advise you on your available legal options. You may also fill out our online contact form to request a consultation. To calculate your potential settlement, use our injury settlement calculator here.