Is the Truck Driver Liable In a Truck Accident?

May 15, 2021

Collisions involving large trucks are highly destructive as the size and momentum of semi-trucks are easily enough to crush most vehicles that come in their way. The physical damages incurred upon the victim are also devastating; many have to contend with catastrophic injuries for the long term.

The victims of truck accidents also have to suffer emotionally and facing a financial drain. The economic and non-economic damages for such accidents are thus staggering.

But who can you blame for these losses and who will be liable to pay up?

In this article, we will explore the possibilities regarding liability in a truck accident case, whether only the negligent truck driver will be the sole bearer of responsibility, and how can there be more than one liable parties in commercial truck accidents.

In any case, you should not delay calling a competent lawyer when disaster strikes if you wish to secure a higher ground in your truck accident claim.

Determining Liability In Truck Accidents

Truck crashes can happen in any number of ways and thus it is not always certain who’s at fault and whether there is one responsible party or more. Of course, the best way to understand this is to check into the details of how the accident happened.

You will come across valuable clues there, the cause always describes how someone’s negligence created the possibility of an accident. Even if you can’t investigate this part on your own, you can learn about the full picture by hiring a team of experienced personal injury lawyers to dig into the matter on your behalf.

In the case of commercial vehicle accidents, the company owning the truck will also be liable as it was their responsibility to ensure that road safety protocols were followed.

To cut to the chase, the following parties, or a fraction of them can be liable for a truck accident:

  • The truck driver
  • The trucking company
  • The truck loading party
  • The truck maintenance & repair crew
  • The truck manufacturers
  • The party that leased the truck

The fault of the truck driver (if they caused the accident) is pretty clear but that of other parties demands some scrutiny.

One or more of the aforementioned parties may be liable for the damages you had to sustain because of the accident. Thus you must never rush through the settlement negotiations and instead explore the full extent of the case before seeking compensation.

Let’s discuss all liable parties individually to explore how they can have a share in the fault.

Truck Driver

Most vehicle accidents, of all types, happen due to negligence on part of the driver. Even if the driver averts their eyes from the road for a couple of seconds, the results can be disastrous. All drivers are required to stay eternally vigilant on the road and follow safe practices to avoid collisions.

Thus texting while driving, fumbling with the GPS, eating, drinking, talking, looking elsewhere, and all other forms of reckless driving are unacceptable for any driver, let alone someone who’s handling something as massive as commercial motor vehicles.

While some of these may be a bit hard to prove, others can be easily documented.

For instance, if the commercial truck driver was busy on a phone call or texting when the accident happened, your lawyer can simply bring up their phone records to prove that this was indeed the case. This way, their negligence will be established without doubt.

In other cases, surveillance footage or photographs may be of help, but you should never lose hope, even if the insurance adjuster tries to intimidate you. Instead, contact professional truck accident lawyers as soon as possible to get compensated fairly.

Your personal injury attorney will see to it that no page is left unturned in your case and all the liable parties who violated federal trucking regulations and road safety protocols are made to pay up, i.e. if truck driver fatigue was the cause, then the case will take a completely new form.

Trucking Company

Every employer is responsible, at least partially, for the actions of their employees. The same applies to trucking companies who must ensure that they’re giving the job to someone dependable, and not someone prone to negligence and misconduct.

For instance, if the driver had a record of accidents or negligence (alcohol consumption, speeding, etc.) in the past then it made no sense for the truck owner to offer them employment. You can factor this into your case as well. Similarly, any recklessness on the part of the driver will reflect directly on the company’s policies.

However, commercial truck companies have ways of evading such blames, for instance, they may claim that their truckers are not employees but rather independent truck drivers (or contractors). Of course, you can counter such claims (your lawyer will), by probing into details such as:

  • Could the driver decline carrying certain loads?
  • How much control does the company exercise over its drivers’ performances?
  • Are there fixed hours of service for the drivers?
  • Does the company select the routes for its drivers?

And so on…

The idea here is to establish the extent of control exercised by the company and if that exceeds the threshold then the driver will be considered an employee no matter how the company tries to picture things. And this way, they too will be liable for compensating you.

The full extent of the details may only be unveiled after a thorough investigation.

Truck Loading Crew

Was the truck loaded beyond the safe capacity?

Or was there a lack of adequate safety for the cargo that led to the collision?

In such cases, the cargo loaders will also be held liable for the losses for their failure to ensure road safety. There is also the possibility of the load falling off the truck and causing the accident, in which case, the truck loading crew will be held at fault without any doubt.

Maintenance & Repair Crew

Perhaps some technical issue made the accident unavoidable, no matter how vigilant or responsible the driver was. Let’s say the brake system failed to stop the vehicle in time as it was supposed to or there was some other maintenance/repair problem with the vehicle.

The crew responsible for ensuring that the truck stays in peak shape will be thus brought under charges of negligence and will be considered liable for the damages.

Of course, if the company failed to get the semi-trailer trucks inspected for maintenance and repairs, then they will be the ones to blame in this case.

Truck Manufacturer

If a manufacturing defect in the truck led to the trucking accident the manufacturer will also be held liable. Defective trucks are also among the leading causes of traffic accidents, i.e. a defective braking system can prevent the truck from stopping safely and thus cause an accident.

Mechanical failures and brake failures are the most common technical issues leading to accidents with fleet vehicles.

Of course, a safety inspection can reveal such problems beforehand, and thus the truck accident liability of the trucking company does not end here.

The Party That Leased The Truck

Third-party businesses that lease trucks may also be held liable in such cases if their vehicles were not inspected for safety deficits beforehand.

Michael Kelly Have Got Your Back

Truck collisions can cause huge financial problems (medical bills, property damages, etc.) in addition to the massive physical pain and emotional agony. No one should have to go through such perilous times on their own, instead, you should always take a step back and rest as much as needed while a team of experienced truck accident attorneys handles your case.

Many truck accident victims hold back from the idea of hiring an attorney for their personal injury claim, fearing that the lawyer fees might be a bit too much to handle amid such a financial crisis. However, you need not worry about a thing because we, at Michael Kelly, won’t ask for anything (not even for consultation) until you’ve won your claim.

This is called a contingency fee basis plan and it exists to facilitate the clients and to encourage them to exercise their legal rights. Remember, the first offer from the insurance company is not even close to being the best they can offer. You will have to push a bit harder to get compensated fairly.

Luckily, you’ll have all the help you need, just give us a call, and your worries will be over!

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Michael D. Kelly has a diverse background that provides a breadth of legal knowledge that he draws upon in serving his clients. Kelly compiled an excellent academic record during his three years at New England Law in Boston.