Whether you’re a professional long-haul driver or a typical passenger vehicle driver, getting into an accident with a large vehicle like a semi-truck can be very traumatic. Moreover, understanding who can be held responsible for such an accident can be complicated at best.
Most truck accidents require a thorough investigation to find out what happened and why, but a thorough review of the evidence may show that one or more parties were responsible for the crash. With a variety of unique crash circumstances, your situation may be handled differently from the next. To learn more about trucking accident liability, keep reading.
Depending on the cause of your trucking accident, here’s what you need to understand about liability.
- Truck Driver
- Trucking Company
- Cargo & Loading Company
- Other Vendors
- Trucking Manufacturer
When it comes to getting into an accident with a large trucking vehicle, sometimes the truck driver may be at fault. While a malfunctioning truck may be the real cause of the issue, there are times when it can just be due to the fault of the driver. Due to negligence such as speeding or distracted driving, a trucker may have caused an accident.
Depending on where the accident investigation leads, there may be criminal charges pending or even a conviction, also based on the severity of the incident. As a truck driver, said driver is responsible for inspecting the rig to ensure proper maintenance or loading of cargo before embarking on a trip. When cargo shifting or maintenance problems cause truck accidents, the trucker may still be responsible for part of the accident.
Every case is unique, and liability will be determined accordingly. However, in some instances, the truck driver will be held accountable for damages.
In other cases, the trucking company can be held liable in the course of a major accident. A trucking company is responsible for the trucks and truck drivers it puts on the road. This includes accountability for hiring and training practices, which may be a problem if the company employs drivers who did not receive proper training.
For businesses who cut corners, overwork their drivers, lead with a lack of training, and even employ poorly maintained trucks, the probability of a horrible accident on the road increases exponentially. If an accident has occurred, and evidence determines the trucking company to be at fault, that company will be held responsible for the course of your accident.
Cargo & Loading Company
Some carriers, or cargo and loading companies, will work as contractors to ship, store and package cargo for other companies. In a scenario like this, all parties, including the originator, shipper, loader, and transporter, are subject to federal and state regulations, and can be held liable if negligent.
In the event of a truck accident caused by shifted cargo, records from all parties involved with the cargo, including the carrier, should be examined. If such problems do cause a truck driver to get into a bad accident, the cargo and loading company may be held responsible for the damages.
In other instances, many trucking companies will outsource a lot of their carrier operations. This can include anything from administrative work, such as recruiting drivers or conducting background checks and alcohol and drug tests, or truck maintenance, repair and dispatching work, or any other part of fleet operations.
If an accident is caused due to a faulty driver hired by an outsourced recruiting company who cuts corners, or due to poor truck maintenance, those outsourced parties will need to be identified and evaluated. In the event that any third-party vendor contributes to a truck accident, they may be held liable.
Keeping that same notion in mind, when it comes to the literal truck manufacturer, there are often some accidents caused by a malfunctioning truck. Whether due to failing component parts, such as tire blowouts, brake failures or problems with the steering or coupling (kingpin) systems, or a maintenance issue, accidents caused by a malfunctioning truck will need to be professionally evaluated.
In cases where a part or system failed because of a defect that was present from the start, manufacturers and distributors may be held responsible for damages.