Truck accidents involving commercial vehicles don’t just cause severe injuries and property damage: they are also complex to navigate from a legal standpoint. It can be challenging to determine liability, and trucking companies will always look out for their truck drivers first. Attempting to file a truck accident claim while rebuilding your life after an accident can be overwhelming.
If you are in a truck accident, you’ll want to contact a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. An experienced truck accident lawyer can help you pursue an insurance settlement and compensation for your medical bills while ensuring the liable parties are held responsible for their actions. Keep reading to learn who is commonly liable for a truck collision.
Potentially Liable Parties
Numerous parties can be liable in commercial truck accidents. The truck driver, trucking company, leasing company, cargo loaders, and even other vehicles may be held liable for damages the victim suffered.
The Truck Driver
The truck driver is often found liable when a truck accident occurs, even if they work for a truck company. When truck drivers break the law, drive distracted, or consume mind-altering substances, they are not acting within the regulations of their job.
Even if they work for an employer, the driver may still be legally responsible if the truck driver’s actions were illegal or reckless. Trucking company employees can be held liable for injuries and expenses truck accident victims receive due to their actions.
The Cargo Loader
Loading cargo is typically performed by other third parties, not the driver. Since commercial trucks travel across the country, shipments may be loaded by multiple cargo loaders.
If cargo loaders do not adequately secure the items being shipped, they could end up liable for damages if a truck accident lawyer can prove that their negligence caused the truck to lose control when cargo shifted during travel. A cargo shipper must take care to properly train all staff responsible for loading cargo to avoid becoming one of the potentially liable parties in a truck crash.
The Trucking Company
Although trucking companies are often at least partially liable for commercial truck accidents, proving their legal liability is nearly impossible without an experienced truck accident attorney. In most truck accident cases, the trucking company will try to blame the driver or claim that the driver is an independent contractor. However, while it is common for a commercial driver to be classified as an independent contractor, many are employed by companies in the trucking industry.
Determining legal responsibility in commercial truck accidents can become even more confusing when the driver and truck owner are not the same individual. An accident involving multiple parties, such as a truck owner, leasing company, and truck driver, will require an experienced attorney to navigate.
The Truck Manufacturer
Sometimes a semi truck crash will occur due to mechanical failures, such as faulty brakes or a defective steering wheel column. For the truck manufacturer to be held liable, the truck crash must have happened because the parts were defective.
Large truck accidents that occur because the truck owners or other trucking companies neglected routine truck maintenance would not be blamed on the manufacturer. To pursue a legal claim against a vehicle or part manufacturer, the lawyer must prove that the item was defective and that the defectiveness led to the truck accident.
Local Government Agencies
Local government agencies might be liable for a truck collision if poorly maintained roadways or incorrect signage contributed to a trucking accident. For example, if a road is badly deteriorated, which causes a truck driver to lose control of their vehicle, they may be held liable.
Agencies responsible for maintaining road conditions aren’t found liable as often as other parties, but it does occasionally happen. Examining your situation’s details, including the state of the roads and any wrong or missing signage, will help your lawyer determine whether a local agency might be at fault for the accident.
What If Multiple Parties Caused the Truck Accident?
When more than one party is involved in the truck accident, the accident victim may be able to pursue more significant compensation for their injuries. However, the average individual will not be able to negotiate a fair settlement when going up against a trucking company and the insurance company for the at-fault driver.
A trucking accident victim’s injuries can leave them with enormous medical bills and significantly impact their life. By ensuring all responsible parties are held liable, victims of commercial truck collisions can seek the compensation they deserve.
Do Drivers of Passenger Cars Contribute to Trucking Collisions?
Sometimes drivers of passenger vehicles are responsible for accidents. While no driver intentionally collides with a semi, choosing to practice reckless driving can increase the chance of a collision.
Drivers can avoid dangerous situations by being aware of some common factors in accidents caused by passenger vehicles. Errors that can put you at risk for an accident include the following:
Merging onto a highway can be challenging for many drivers. To safely merge into traffic, individuals must be able to gauge the speed of approaching traffic.
Due to their size, sometimes semis can appear to move more slowly than they are. Therefore, instead of accelerating and attempting to overtake a semi and risk running out of lane, drivers should play it safe and merge behind semis if there is any doubt over their speed.
Driving in Blind Spots
Passenger vehicles may have some angles where visibility is compromised, but the blind spots on commercial vehicles are plentiful. For example, a car can be entirely inside a semi’s blind spot when directly behind or in front of the vehicle.
There are also blind spots along the side of the semi; these areas span several car lengths, so it’s easy to inadvertently put yourself in a dangerous situation if you travel alongside a semi. However, you can lower your chances of getting in a crash by not lingering next to semis and giving them an appropriate distance when moving in front or behind them.
Why Are Trucking Accidents a Serious Issue?
Trucking accidents are a serious issue due to the size of semi trucks. An accident involving a commercial hauling vehicle will usually cause more damage than a collision between passenger cars.
Semi trucks are also extremely heavy, especially when they are carrying freight. The mass of the vehicle means that the truck driver cannot brake quickly, and the impact of a semi colliding with a commuter car can result in a horrific crash scene.
Determining Liability After a Commercial Truck Accident
Determining who is liable for a truck accident will sometimes require calling on experts. For example, accident reconstruction specialists will reenact an accident scene to help determine the at-fault party.
Experienced truck accident lawyers will also help establish liability. They will talk to witnesses, review the accident report, and collect evidence proving who is legally responsible for the accident.
Proving Fault in a Trucking Accident Claim
Proving fault following an accident will usually require your lawyer to review various pieces of evidence to determine what happened. In some cases, additional experts will be necessary, while more straightforward collisions may not require the expertise of anyone beyond your attorney.
Types of evidence your lawyer will examine may include crash scene photos, information from the commercial vehicle’s black box, trucking company records, and driver activity logs. You will want to work with an attorney specializing in commercial collision cases because they can use their experience to improve your odds of getting a lucrative settlement.
Recoverable Damages for a Trucking Accident
Victims can face debilitating injuries following an accident, and their medical expenses often significantly strain their finances. However, victims who work with a skilled accident lawyer have greater success receiving fair compensation for their losses than individuals who don’t have legal representation.
Each case will have different damages that can be recoverable. Some damages commonly collected by semi accident victims include:
Pain and suffering
A Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Build Your Case
Sorting through the aftermath of a collision with a commercial vehicle is a daunting undertaking. Hiring legal representation during this challenging time will ensure truck accident liability falls on the correct party and that you are not held liable for a collision you didn’t cause.
Don’t let trucking companies or commercial truck drivers dodge their legal obligation to compensate you for your losses. Schedule a free consultation with Wendt Law Firm P.C. by calling 816-542-6734, and know that your rights are being defended.