Truck accidents can result in catastrophic physical, emotional and financial losses.
The first step in recovering those losses is to determine who is liable, and in a truck accident, there are multiple potentially at-fault parties.
The truck driver
The truck driver may seem like the obvious culprit. However, they are only liable under specific circumstances, namely if they violated a road law or drove the truck outside the scope of their employment.
If the driver is an independent contractor, they bear a more significant duty of care than a driver employed by a trucking company.
The trucking company
The trucking company could be responsible for a number of reasons:
- If they failed to properly train the driver before allowing them to operate the truck
- If they failed to vet a driver with a history of traffic violations
- If they did not perform proper maintenance or conduct routine inspections of the truck
Sometimes trucking companies encourage drivers to violate federal laws to pad their bottom line, which could also make them liable.
A third party
When the trucking company hires a third party to handle maintenance and inspections of its fleet, that company would be liable if an accident occurs due to mechanical issues with the truck.
If a flawed part or system caused the truck to malfunction and crash, the truck manufacturer could be liable. Similarly, if poorly secured cargo or cargo over the federal allotted weight limit caused the accident, the party responsible for loading it would be liable.
Truck accidents can quickly become complex, sometimes resulting in multiple lawsuits or one lawsuit with multiple defendants.