Who Is Liable in a Commercial Truck Accident?
One of the major differences between commercial truck accidents and the average car crash is liability, or who’s at fault.
Liable parties in a regular car accident are usually just the drivers of the vehicles involved. Determining liability in a truck accident is a far more complex process that could include multiple third parties beyond the person actually driving the commercial vehicle. In other words, the accident may not have entirely been the driver’s fault, even if it appears that way at first. Proving liability in cases like these normally requires an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Manufacturing, managing, and loading a truck is a long process that requires input from many different parties. There’s room for error along any one of these points in the process of moving goods from one location to the next. Because of that, the following groups, companies, and individuals could potentially be held liable for negligence in a truck accident:
Manufacturers: Companies that manufacture truck parts and equipment — anything from tires to brake pads — could share in the blame if their parts helped cause an accident. Some common examples of malfunctioning equipment include tire blowouts, faulty brakes, and mechanical failures. A thorough investigation should reveal such things after an accident. If found to be at fault, manufacturers would be required to pay at least part of victims’ damages.
The Trucking Company: The company that hires the truck driver is a frequent third party held liable in accidents. The trucking company is responsible for maintaining and inspecting the vehicle before every trip, ensuring that all equipment is working properly. But too often, these companies cut corners on inspections, increasing the risk of an accident. They may also push a driver to work longer hours than is safe in the name of meeting a shipping deadline.
Cargo Loaders: Cargo loaders are supposed to ensure a shipment is secured and balanced properly in the truck before the vehicle ever departs. Improperly packed cargo could spill onto the road or throw the truck off balance and hinder a driver’s ability to control the vehicle. An underloaded or overloaded truck can also cause problems for the driver and potentially anyone else in the nearby vicinity.
Truck Drivers: Often, the person behind the wheel of the commercial vehicle shares some responsibility in an accident. Drivers that speed, make reckless lane changes, or break other traffic laws are a danger to everyone on the road. Many truck drivers also struggle with substance abuse, while others work past their designated Hours of Service regulations and wind up exhausted and overworked. All of these factors increase the risk of an accident happening.
Because of the number of potentially responsible parties involved, truck accident litigation can get extremely complex very quickly. If the accident is catastrophic — which is often the case with commercial vehicles — proving negligence will get even more nuanced. Trucking companies and others on the above list do not have your best interests in mind and will often try to get out of paying what they rightfully owe. These companies are armed with attorneys and resources and will usually do everything they can to avoid paying you compensation.
Your best course of action after a major truck accident is to find an experienced truck accident attorney. Rodriguez & Associates has decades of experience handling truck accident cases, and our expertise covers not just engineering and legal issues but also the day-to-day details for truckers that can lead to accidents. We are skilled at identifying and acquiring crucial pieces of evidence, too, including driver logs and trucking company records.
Please reach out to us today to discuss your case and receive support by filling out our online form or calling (661) 323-1400.