Establishing liability is crucial to getting compensation if you have been injured in a trucking accident. Doing so can involve looking at different parties, from the driver at the wheel at the time of the accident to an employer who did not maintain their truck or a mechanic who did shoddy work on it. Knowing which connections exist and who is liable is something your lawyer can help you with, so you should contact them immediately following a truck accident and getting medical attention.
The Parties Who Could Potentially Be Liable
Several parties could be considered liable for a truck accident. The first party is the driver who might have been negligent on the road or not paying attention and thus the cause of the accident. Next, we have their employer who might not have ensured their drivers are experienced enough to ensure the safety of other road users or who did not take any measures after the driver was proven unreliable.
A lawyer will also look into vehicle manufacturers that create trucks with a known defect and do not disclose it or attempt to correct it. If the vehicle is hired through an agency, it may be responsible for ensuring the truck is in good condition and safe on the road.
Lastly, we have third parties such as other road users whose reckless actions could have caused the truck driver to perform erratic actions that led to the accident.
Establishing Liability: The Truck Driver
What did the driver do before the accident to potentially cause it? If the driver was distracted, speeding to meet a delivery time, not using turn signals at an intersection, or was drunk, they are liable for the accident.
Other factors to consider include how long they had been on the road at the time of the accident and whether they were driving at night, drowsy, tired, or have a health condition.
Because they are in the middle of the accident, the truck driver is often held liable alone.
The Trucking Company or Employer
Proving that the trucking company or driver’s employer is liable is often challenging unless a lawyer can expose certain issues. These issues include incomplete inspections, not adhering to safety regulations, hiring inexperienced or incompetent drivers, pushing drivers beyond their capabilities, and overloading making a truck more difficult to stop.
Some cases in the past have also exposed companies for tampering with trucks to increase speed. An experienced lawyer and an expert will uncover these issues after a truck accident if they exist.
The Truck’s Owner
The other party that could be liable is the truck’s owner. This situation arises when the trucking company does not own the truck but instead, a different company provides it. The other company has a responsibility to service and maintain its trucks including changing the oil, checking the engine, changing the tires, and ensuring all systems work as expected.
The federal government already has regulations that govern how trucks should be inspected and maintained. Failure to follow these guidelines makes the owner liable.
Many truck accidents involve cargo where it falls off the truck during transportation. If there is nothing else wrong with the vehicle, the loader could be held liable. The reason is that they are responsible for ensuring all cargo is secure and remains so for the whole journey.
The Vehicle Manufacturer
Just like establishing whether the employer or truck owner is liable, determining if a truck’s manufacturer is the liable party can be complicated. An expert and a lawyer have to prove that the vehicle had defective parts that are the main cause of the accident. Typical issues include blown tires, faulty brakes, and mechanical failure.
If any of these issues as well as others with the truck occur, the manufacturer will be liable for the accident and for paying damages to the victim(s).
Determining liability in a truck accident is not as easy as pointing at the driver. Many parties could be responsible including the manufacturer, their employer, the cargo loader, and other parties. An experienced lawyer will look at the facts and circumstances of the accident to help you determine who is liable.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with us so we can look into your case.
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- Tupelo office: 2005 West Main St. Tupelo, MS 38801
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Or contact us via phone for a free consultation on (883) 626-2587.