When is a company liable after a truck crash?
Due to the sizable mass of commercial vehicles, truck accidents tend to be more severe than accidents involving other types of vehicles. Also, multiple parties may be involved, such as the truck driver, the truck owner, the trucking company, the person responsible for maintaining the truck, and those in charge of loading it. Sometimes, if defective parts were at fault, even the manufacturer may be liable. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, personal injury lawyers Wattel & York recommend you get legal representation as soon as possible. It may take time, and investigative efforts to determine who might be responsible for the accident can take a while.
Determining the Responsible Parties
In truck accidents, there can potentially be several parties who hold responsibility for the wreck. These may be:
The Trucking Company
A company that employs a driver to transport a load might be at fault if they fail to provide supplemental training to a novice driver. They may also have required the truck driver to drive beyond the maximum trucking hours without allowing for a rest period, or they may not have properly maintained the truck. Your truck accident lawyer will investigate these possibilities to determine whether the trucking company is at fault.
The Truck Owner
If the trucking company is not the owner of the truck but is just leasing it, the owner may bear some of the responsibility for having a well-maintained, roadworthy vehicle. They are also mandated by law to keep a record of the maintenance and upgrades that the truck receives. If the log shows a lack of maintenance, missed inspections, or failure to check the tires, the brakes, or the electronic system, the truck owner could be sued.
The Truck Driver
If the driver fails to obey traffic laws, engages in speeding or tailgating, or is too tired or distracted while driving, they may be held responsible for the accident. Furthermore, the truck driver may be held accountable if they were drinking, using illicit drugs, consuming prescription drugs, or doing anything that may impair their judgment or concentration.
The Cargo Loaders
The team or person who is responsible for loading the truck may also be at fault. They may have piled up more cargo than the truck can safely transport or failed to secure it adequately. Therefore, the cargo may shift around, break loose, fall on top of a moving vehicle, and injure people or damage property. This can also impede the driver's ability to brake, turn, or take evasive action.
The Maintenance Crew
There are individuals responsible for overseeing the proper maintenance of the truck to ensure it is roadworthy and safe. If the brakes are not checked regularly, or the tires are bald, the mechanics or maintenance crew may be held responsible for the crash.
The Truck Manufacturer
If the truck has a faulty brake system, issues with the steering wheel, or any other manufacturer defect, your lawyer can check to see if there have been other similar accidents or if there is a pending recall for any of the truck's parts.
Holding a Trucking Company Liable for The Crash
Legal liability in a trucking accident is not always clear. This makes it crucial for you to have an experienced truck accident lawyer working on your case. Otherwise, you may be facing a difficult case to win. If the judge views the actions of the truck company as particularly aggravating, they may go so far as to force the company to pay punitive damages as a way to punish the owners. These types of damages are rare, however.
Your lawyer will help identify whether the truck company cut any corners, pushed their drivers beyond the legal driving limits, or is in the habit of employing other practices that may have resulted in this accident.
To be successful in a claim against the truck company, your lawyer will have to help you investigate the actions of the company, even if you are still in the hospital recovering from your injuries. The process can be quite complicated, and there is a time limit for filing the claim.