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Who Is Liable In A Truck Accident?

liable in a truck accident 

Unlike in car crashes, there may be more than one person liable in a truck accident. With all the parties involved in truck management and maintenance, it is not enough to blame the truck driver alone. In other words, truck accident cases present another level of legal complications. This is why you need to consult a truck accident lawyer if you or your loved one were injured in one recently.

Truck Driver

Like any other driver involved in a crash, the truck driver is often liable in a truck accident. With the responsibility of operating a vehicle larger than others, truck drivers should be more cautious on the road. While there are drivers who follow the rules for road safety, there are those who become negligent due to several reasons.

Here are some of the factors that can make a driver liable in a truck accident:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) – Anyone who drives while intoxicated poses a grave risk for him and his fellow motorists. But when a drunk truck driver gets behind the wheel, he elevates that risk.

Alcohol, and worse, drugs, can impair a driver’s vision and concentration. DUI also slows down the driver’s reaction time, making it difficult to avoid dangers until it’s too late. Sometimes, intoxication also causes impulsive behavior, leading to speeding and disregarding traffic signals.

 

  • Fatigue – An extremely tired driver is a recipe for disaster. Truck drivers often work long hours, and their trips may even last for days. Hence, driver fatigue is one of the main causes of truck accidents.

The FMCSA defines fatigue as the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance. Lack of sufficient sleep, prolonged work hours, and strenuous activities all contribute to physical and mental exhaustion. Around 13% of commercial truck accidents were due to driver fatigue.

 

  • Distracted Driving – A truck driver loses his focus behind the wheel becomes a hazard on the road. Actions such as texting, eating, or holding audio devices while driving can lead to a crash. Most states, including Arizona, have already banned distracted driving as it is as dangerous as drunk driving.

 

The Truck Driver’s Employer

 The company which the driver works for may also be liable in a truck accident. The law provides safety measures that trucking companies and related businesses must follow to prevent accidents. Therefore, as an employer, the company is responsible for the following:

  • Conducting a background check on the employee’s driving history before hiring
  • Commercial truck driver training
  • Daily monitoring of work hours
  • Cargo securement
  • Fleet management
  • Drug screening
  • Truck maintenance

In a truck accident liability claim, there is a general rule called “respondeat superior”. This means that an employer takes responsibility for the negligent acts of its employee within the course of duty. Therefore, if an accident is due to the truck driver’s fault, his company will also share the liability.

As an example, one of our former clients filed an injury claim against a truck driver whose vehicle struck him while in a marked crosswalk. Upon probing the overall operations of the driver’s employer, we discovered a history of negative reviews. It appeared that the company regularly hired formerly convicted felons and drug users.

In that particular accident, the truck driver was distracted moments before hitting the pedestrian. We had sufficient reason to request additional records. Driving history, medical records, and similar items would help determine if the truck driver was indeed impaired. If proven, this would extend the liability to the company that allowed him to drive under the influence of a substance.

 

 

Truck Parts Manufacturer

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates that all commercial trucks should be frequently inspected and properly maintained. But what happens if the truck manufacturer supplied defective vehicle components?

Defective truck parts could make even a cautious driver lose control of the truck. According to an FMCSA study, vehicle failure caused almost 1/3 of truck crashes against passenger vehicles. This is an alarming figure since the reason is preventable had the manufacturer conducted stricter quality control.

An experienced attorney can help you determine if the truck’s parts manufacturer is liable in a truck accident. You can hold that company accountable for supplying a defective truck part, which ultimately led to your injuries. If one of these problems caused the truck accident, then a defective part could be the reason:

  • Broken steering wheel
  • Trailer failure
  • Faulty suspension system
  • Truck body failure
  • Engine and transmission issues
  • Lighting defects

 

If your lawyer suspects that the truck accident was due to a parts defect, he/she may request a court order. This will prompt the truck company or its owner to subject the vehicle to forensic analysis. This is why it is important to contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as you can after the incident. That valuable truck data may be destroyed or tampered with if you do not file a claim quickly.

 

Other Parties who may also be Liable in a Truck Accident

 

Truck Owner

There are cases where an individual instead of a company owns the truck. Hence, this holds the truck owner liable in a truck accident if the vehicle is poorly maintained. He/she is accountable for the damages caused by the truck due to negligence. Being a sole owner is not an excuse to overlook upkeep such as regular servicing and repairs.

 

Public Entity

While usually immune from lawsuits, there are times when a public entity may be held liable in a truck accident. This happens when the incident resulted from a roadway defect or an unsafe road condition. Who says you can’t file a lawsuit against a government office? If the city or municipality is the one in charge of highway maintenance, then you can.

If you were injured in a truck collision caused by a poorly maintained roadway. You may not immediately realize this, but you can demand compensation due to such negligence. A skilled truck accident lawyer can determine if a public entity is at fault. This may be possible if there are road defects during the time of the accident:

  • Substandard highway design
  • Lack of warning signs and incorrect signage
  • Road construction hazards
  • Absence of guardrails on elevated roads
  • Hazardous objects and road debris
  • Potholes and uneven pavement

 

So, you see, determining who is liable in a truck accident can be quite complicated. The lawyers of corporate and public entities may also intimidate you, forcing you to settle to less than what you deserve.

An experienced truck accident lawyer knows how to prove fault even in the most complex cases. With a skilled legal representative by your side, you do not need to face them alone. If you or any of your loved ones were injured in a truck accident, you can call us to assist you. We will fight for you to obtain maximum compensation for your injuries, so you can fully recover.

 

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