Truck Accident Liability: Determining Who’s at Fault after a Trucking Accident

In 2014, large trucks and buses caused approximately 88,000 injury crashes, and 3,978 ended in death, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). When these truck accidents happen, injured victims and those who lost family members need to know who is at fault to recover fair compensation. If you are injured in an accident with a truck, it’s critical to know how an attorney can help you determine liability. 

There Are Many Potentially Responsible Parties in a Truck Accident

In the trucking industry, many individuals and entities come together to get the job done, and this makes determining liability in a truck accident more complicated. Fault in an accident may lie with one or more of the people involved in the entire process. The following are a few of those who might be held liable in a trucking accident and why:

  • The truck driver. Whether it’s because of an operational mistake, breaking the law, or driving distracted or intoxicated, a driver may be held accountable for the damages he causes. Because truckers drive long distances, drive at night, and maneuver difficult vehicles, they face special challenges behind the wheel—factors that may implicate them in liability.
  • The trucking company. Those who employ truckers have a responsibility to hire safe drivers and establish safe driving schedules. However, some companies place unrealistic expectations on their drivers when it comes to meeting deadlines, which can lead to unsafe driving and liability if an accident occurs. Additionally, a trucking company may be held liable on the grounds of negligence if it knowingly hired a driver who was unfit or unqualified for the job.
  • The owner. In some cases, the trucking company does not own its trucks. Thus, the owner of the vehicle is responsible for maintaining its vital parts such as brakes, fluids, and tires. Federal law mandates specific inspections for potential maintenance issues. Failing to inspect truck components and take action on problems found could result in a serious accident—for which the owner might be held liable.
  • The cargo loaders. A portion of truck accidents in the U.S. can be attributed to overloaded or improperly loaded cargo. Because cargo makes a large truck so heavy, whoever loads the cargo must ensure that a truck’s weight meets federal regulations and is distributed evenly. Otherwise, a lane change, turn, or sudden stop could result in an accident.
  • The parts manufacturers. A truck is made up of many moving and static parts, and all of these are essential to a safe shipping process. However, if a manufacturer produced a defective part, and that part contributed to the cause of an accident, the part-maker might be liable for damages in that case. For example, a defective connector rod might cause issues between the vehicle and the trailer, or a design mistake might contribute to an accident.

How an Attorney Can Help Determine Liability

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck, it’s helpful to find an attorney you trust. A lawyer with experience can help you recover fair compensation for injuries and damages by:

  • Investigating adherence to federal regulations. Because a certified federal or state inspector makes a report (in addition to the police report) to ensure all regulations were followed by all entities involved, an attorney can use that information to prove liability.
  • Retrieving data from a truck’s “black box.” Similar to the recording devices found in airplanes and trains, a truck’s “black box” data may point to the root cause of an accident—thereby establishing the responsible party.

We Can Help

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a truck accident, you may have worries about your medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning potential. The team at Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi can advocate for you, build a strong case, and help you recover damages to get your life back on track. To speak with a member of our team, call us at 877-652-1553 today.

 

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