Depending on the facts and circumstances of the accident, the truck driver, the trucking company, or both can have responsibility for a truck accident. Additionally, there are some cases where a manufacturer or other third-party can remain responsible for the injuries and losses suffered by a victim of a truck accident.
Determination of Liability in Trucking Accidents
Trucking accidents have many more facets and components regarding the determination of liability as typically involved in passenger vehicle accidents. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) research indicates that many large commercial trucks weigh over 80,000 pounds, and when they have involvement in an accident, catastrophic injuries and fatalities often occur. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), accidents involving large commercial trucks are actually 10 times more likely to result in fatalities than passenger vehicle accidents. The determination of liability proves even more essential as there are often many more entities or persons who could remain responsible and liable to compensate a victim of a trucking accident.
Causes of Trucking Accidents
Making a determination regarding the cause of the trucking accident will help a victim determine whether or not the truck driver or the trucking company remains responsible for the truck accident. Some of the causes of trucking accidents include the following:
- Improperly Trained and Licensed. Every truck driver must have a commercial driver’s license issued by the appropriate state and also receive proper training under FMCSA, Title 49 §383.3. Failure to have this training can result in an accident on the roadways.
- Dangerous Driver. If a driver has a previous history of dangerous behavior on the roadways, and the trucking company fails to either discipline or remove that driver from the roadways, the trucking company may remain responsible for the failure to monitor the behaviors of their employees.
- Failure to Properly Maintain the Vehicle. In some cases, the reason for a truck accident rests with the failure to properly repair or replace certain parts or components of the commercial truck, as necessary. This failure to maintain a vehicle can result in serious accidents on the roadways if brakes, tires, steering mechanisms, or other equipment fails during the operation of the vehicle.
- Service Hours. There are federal guidelines that specifically detail the hours of rest that a truck driver must receive prior to operating a commercial vehicle under the Hours of Service regulations. Driving while drowsy often leads to catastrophic accidents when a truck driver makes poor decisions due to fatigue.
- Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol. Commercial truck drivers have a much stricter limit regarding blood concentration levels. If a truck driver had any type of alcohol or drugs within 8 hours of the operation of a commercial vehicle, or a blood alcohol concentration level above 0.02 percent, they remain in violation of federal guidelines.
- Cargo Loading. If the cargo remains secured incorrectly, or if too much cargo is in the truck, this can cause substantial weight imbalances leading to serious accidents on the road.
- Manufacturing Defect. In some cases, a trucking accident results from a manufacturing defect or product design error.
Truck Driver vs. Trucking Company Liability
Under the legal theory known as respondeat superior, an employer maintains liability for its employees while they act in the normal course of their duties during work times. Therefore, even if a truck driver operated a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or failed to obey the rules of the road, a victim may have the ability to hold both the truck driver and the trucking company responsible for the injuries and losses of a victim. In many cases, the victim will have the legal right to hold the trucking company liable and responsible to compensate them for their injuries and losses resulting from the accident, which may include medical costs, lost wages, loss of future wages, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering and more. In some cases, if the actions of the truck driver were exceptionally egregious or dangerous with reckless disregard for human life, a victim may also receive punitive damages which are often granted as a way to punish the negligent party or parties. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your truck accident, either the truck driver, the trucking company, or both may have a responsibility to pay for your injuries and losses.
Learn How a Trucking Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Case
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 223-5115 to speak with a team member who can help you understand your legal rights and whether the truck driver or trucking company is responsible for your truck accident. Learn how a trucking accident lawyer can help you determine liability in your case, and how to protect your legal rights.