Determining Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident
One of the reasons why truck accident cases are more complicated than other types of motor vehicle accident cases is that the trucking industry consists of many different parties. Several parties may ultimately be responsible for a trucking accident and be responsible for fairly compensating the accident victims. Because all of the potential defendants may represent different entities and have their own insurance companies and lawyers who are paid to protect their interests, it can be difficult to sort out who is liable for a truck accident. The defendants may all try to blame someone else to try to avoid being financially accountable for the harm they caused. An experienced truck accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for the accident.
Potentially Liable Parties
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, potentially liable parties may include:
The first party you may turn to for accountability following a truck accident is the truck driver. Driving a commercial truck is serious and the job is heavily regulated. Commercial truck drivers have to follow various rules, including those about:
- When they must take breaks
- How they must record their time
- How they operate the vehicle
- Pre- and post-trip inspections
The trucking company can be held responsible for the harm their drivers cause because of the legal principle of respondeat superior, which holds employers responsible for the negligence of their employees. The trucking company can also be held responsible for its own negligence, such as:
- Negligent hiring or retention
- The failure to properly train their driver
- The failure to properly maintain their vehicles
- Encouraging drivers to violate safety regulations
In many cases, particularly those involving delivery vehicle accidents for drivers delivering for Amazon or gig economy companies like Uber Eats, companies attempt to classify their drivers as independent contractors to avoid liability. Especially in these types of cases, an attorney can help untangle the complex liability issues.
Sometimes, trucking companies outsource the maintenance of their fleet to a third party. If an accident is due to poor maintenance, the company responsible for maintenance may be responsible for it.
Cargo Loading Company
A third-party cargo-loading company could be responsible for accidents caused by shifting cargo. Cargo loading companies must properly balance and secure loads so they do not shift or fall out of the vehicle during transit.
If a truck accident is due to a problem with a defective auto part, the manufacturer of the part or truck could be held responsible for the accident.
How to Prove Liability for a Truck Accident
Proving who is responsible for a truck accident can be challenging. However, an experienced truck accident lawyer can gather and compile evidence to help support your claim, such as:
- Accident reports
- Reports from governmental agencies regarding the wreck
- Evidence collected at the crash scene
- Damage to all vehicles
- Data from the truck’s black box
- Photos or videos of the crash
- Activity logbooks
- Receipts that show when the truck driver stopped for gas or a break if this information contradicts the official logbook
- Witness statements
- Medical records, including drug and alcohol test results
- Cell phone records
- Maintenance records and inspection records
- Reports from accident reconstruction specialists
An experienced truck accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation and pursue fair compensation from all liable parties.