Determining liability in a truck accident is essential for establishing which party must cover the expenses associated with property damage and bodily harm. Here is a look at how the party responsible for the damage in these accidents is determined so victims can acquire appropriate compensation.
The Potentially Responsible Parties In A Truck Accident
Trucking accidents can involve several individuals, companies, or agencies depending on the type of trucker who was operating the vehicle at the time of the accident. For example, commercial trucks are sometimes driven by independent contractors, while other commercial truck drivers may have been hired through a company that transfers and ships items or equipment.
The type of driver is just one important consideration in determining who is ultimately responsible for the accident. In most truck accidents, several parties could be held liable.
Here is a brief overview of each one:
The Truck Driver
There are many reasons that a truck driver could be held fully liable for a vehicle accident. For example, they may have consumed drugs or alcohol prior to operating the vehicle. They might have broken the law or failed to follow proper traffic procedures, or they could have been distracted while driving.
In some cases, an operational issue in the truck may be behind the accident. In others, factors such as driving while drowsy or at night, driving for too many hours in a single trip without taking a break, or certain health conditions can contribute to an accident. In many of these cases, the truck driver will be the sole party held liable for injury or property damage.
The Trucking Company
In an accident involving a truck, the company that hired the trucker may be liable under certain circumstances. However, this can only be proven with the involvement of an experienced lawyer. Some of the issues that could lead to this type of liability include incomplete inspections or cutting corners related to safety.
In some cases, unrealistic expectations on the part of the trucking company may push a driver to drive in unsafe conditions in a desperate attempt to meet deadlines or quotas. Many times, investigations will reveal that both the trucking company and the vehicle’s manufacturer share liability in an accident. For example, an accident may be due to a combination of cutting corners to increase speed and faulty equipment.
The Truck’s Owner
In some cases, the trucking company that hires the driver may not own the truck they provide to them. In this case, the true owner of the vehicle could be liable in certain circumstances. For example, if they failed to properly inspect the truck, maintain the tires and the truck’s internal workings, or check the engine regularly, they could be held liable.
The owner of the truck is also responsible for maintaining parts such as brakes, tires, electronic systems, and fluids inside the vehicle. Those that fail to follow the inspection and maintenance steps outlined by federal regulations could be liable for damages.
The Manufacturer Or Cargo Loader
In accidents that involve the cargo on a truck, the loader could be held liable if they failed to inspect and secure the cargo properly. This may be a factor in instances where boxes or equipment have fallen off the vehicle and damaged another vehicle or led to some other type of injury.
Meanwhile, the manufacturer of the truck’s parts could also be held liable in events where a defect in these parts is found to have caused the accident. For example, a parts batch could malfunction and result in a tire blowout, faulty brakes, or a mechanical failure. In these cases, the manufacturer of the parts could be found liable and ordered to pay damages to the victim.
In some cases, other vendors who took on outsourced work could be held liable for some or all of the accidents. This may include those carrying out recruitment and administrative work in cases involving a failure to conduct proper background checks and drug and alcohol tests on drivers. Any third-party vendor whose negligence contributed to the accident could be held liable for damages.
Schedule A Consultation With The California Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a truck, an independent investigation of the accident will likely be needed to determine who will be held responsible for injuries and other losses.
At Lehr Law, APC, our experienced San Diego-based legal team is prepared to investigate and litigate commercial trucking accidents on behalf of those who have been injured or lost loved ones. Contact us today or call at (858) 240-9993 to learn more about your rights following a truck accident.