When a truck is involved in an accident, it doesn’t automatically mean the truck driver is at fault. Anyone can be liable for an accident, including a farmer whose livestock crossed the road at the wrong place. What you need to know is that each truck accident case has unique facts. Investigations have to be done to determine fault before victims can file their compensation claims. Here is a list of everyone that can be held liable for a truck accident:
The Truck Driver
While truck drivers are not always at fault, many truck accidents are as a result of their negligence. A truck driver can be held liable for a collision if they drive under the influence, run a red light, use their phone while driving, rear-end another vehicle, or generally don’t drive safely. Basically, the truck driver gets the same treatment as any other driver involved in the accident.
The Trucking Company
A trucking company could be at fault for an accident if a defect on the truck caused the collision. They may also be held responsible for their drivers’ actions based on the principle that an employer is liable for what an employee does in the scope of their employment responsibilities. This is known as a strict liability; it doesn’t point towards company liability in any way.
Sometimes the trucking company is assigned liability because of direct negligence. For example, if an under-qualified driver causes an accident, the company can be held liable for their reckless hiring methods. Vehicle defects may also signify direct negligence on the trucking company’s part.
The Vehicle Manufacturer
This type of liability is not common, but it occasionally happens when an accident is attributed to a defective part or poorly designed truck. Essentially, it is the manufacturer of the part in question that victims have to pursue. Most of the time, this happens to be the truck manufacturer. When it is not clear who the at-fault party is, you should hire a truck accident lawyer to conduct independent investigations for you. Note that insurance companies are notorious for using these confusions to deny liability, so facing them with a legal eagle is your best bet to expediting the damage recovery process.
Just as the truck driver, another motorist’s actions could be the reason a truck accident happens. For instance, if the truck slams into a vehicle that just made a wrong turn at an interception, it is the other driver who will be assigned the liability. Drowsy driving, drunk driving, distracted driving, speeding, and reckless driving can all have liability transferred to a motorist other than the truck driver.
It is also worth noting that if the vehicle directly responsible for the accident had a defective part, the car or part manufacturer would be held responsible, not the driver.
Cargo or Loading Company
When a company outsources cargo loading services, any accident that occurs due to improper loading of the cargo is blamed on the service provider. Loading companies are responsible for ensuring cargo is secured correctly, the truck doors are locked, and the truck isn’t loaded beyond its capacity. If the truck jack knives or tips over because of uneven distribution of cargo, victims will submit their personal injury and property damage claims to the loading company.
Sometimes the accident cannot be attributed to the direct actions of anyone involved in the collision. Investigators can put the blame on the state if poor road maintenance caused the accident or if the at-fault driver worked for the state or local government and was in the scope of their employment responsibilities at the time of the crash. If an accident is caused by a vehicle belonging to the fire or sanitation department, the state will be held responsible.
In the case of a leased truck, the blame can be assigned to the leasing company if there was negligence on their part. If you are leasing a truck, make sure to check it first to avoid getting into an accident.
In some states, the fault is shared among various parties depending on the percentage of their contribution to the accident. For example, if a truck driver rear-ends a passenger vehicle, but the driver and his or her passenger weren’t wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident, both drivers will be responsible for the injuries sustained by the driver of the passenger car. Their contributions to the settlement may, however, not be the same.
Truck accidents are complicated and often lead to severe injuries and immense property damage. As a truck driver, you should know basic truck driving basics and the laws involved. If you are involved in one, make sure to involve a lawyer for independent fault-determination and a quicker and more seamless claim-filing process.