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Determining Liability in Trucking Accidents

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Dec 22, 2020

Determining Liability in Trucking Accidents

Determining liability in trucking accidents can be anything but straightforward. Proving fault may require extensive research, technical expertise, knowledge of the applicable regulations, and testimony of expert witnesses. Moreover, the potential of having to hold several liable parties to account complicates matters further. If you or a loved one suffered injuries and losses related to a trucking accident, you might be facing a stack of medical bills, the loss of income, property damage, and other financial losses. Knowing who is responsible for your trucking accident, and proving liability, will be critical to help you recover compensation from the negligent party. Labrum Law Firm can determine whether you have a claim and help you navigate the entire legal process. Contact us today for a free case review with a member of our dedicated team at (615) 338-9500.

Trucking Accident Causes and Contributing Factors

Most accidents happen due to driver-related causes and human error, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fatigue, alcohol consumption, and driving too fast can all play a role in truck crashes. Vehicle defects and inclement weather or road conditions can also cause or contribute to trucking accidents. Driver-related causes in truck accidents can include:

Excessive Speed

Driving too fast for weather and road conditions or in excess of the posted speed limit can have devastating consequences. A large commercial semi-truck can be nearly impossible to maneuver at high speeds. Large trucks also require a long-distance and considerable time to come to a stop. A truck driver may lose control when driving around a bend at high speed or cause a rear-end accident when driving too fast and tailgating other vehicles.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

Impaired driving can play a role in trucking accidents. Truck drivers are under a legal obligation to follow stringent regulations, which includes not operating a large truck under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A truck driver may be driving impaired if they consumed alcohol or recreational drugs, which can result in a catastrophic trucking accident. It is important to note that even certain prescription drugs and medications can make operating a large truck unsafe.

Distracted Driving

A truck driver only taking their attention away from the road for a second can cause a tragic accident. Truck drivers often spend days and weeks on the road, sometimes driving long distances through monotone landscapes. Distractions can include eating and drinking while driving, playing loud music, texting, talking on a cell phone, and other activities.Distracted driving can be anything that takes a truck driver's attention away from the road, where it should be. As a result, distracted driving can cause serious accidents resulting in injuries or death.

Fatigued Driving

Truckers may spend long hours on the road. Tired and exhausted truck drivers are more likely to cause accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), truck drivers who have been behind the wheel for more than eight hours are twice as likely to cause accidents. Some trucking companies devise unrealistic schedules that pressure drivers to skip mandated rest periods or falsify driving logs.

Other Causes of Trucking Accidents

Some reasons for truck accidents are not necessarily driver-related and can include lack of vehicle maintenance and servicing or manufacture defects. Tire blowouts or faulty brakes, for example, can render a truck impossible to maneuver. In these cases, a victim may have the right to hold a manufacturer of a defective part or a trucking company liable for the trucking accident. If you have any questions regarding determining liability in your trucking accident, call an experienced attorney at Labrum Law Firm today.

Who Is Liable For Your Trucking Accident Injuries and Losses?

If you consider obtaining compensation from an insurance company or filing a lawsuit after suffering injuries and other damages, determining liability in a trucking accident will be critical for your claim. However, determining liability can be legally complex and challenging as several parties could be responsible for an accident, including a truck driver, trucking company, or third parties such as a vendor or truck manufacturer. A truck accident lawyer can help identify all liable parties and avenues for pursuing damages.

While we generally assume the truck driver behind the wheel is responsible for an accident, this is not always the case. A trucking company may be responsible for all operations, including the hiring and training of drivers. The trucking company will have to adhere to several state and federal regulations and ensure that all vehicles are roadworthy. A trucking company could be liable for a trucking accident for several reasons, including but not limited to: 

Negligent Hiring

Trucking companies should always check their truck driver's qualifications and driving records when hiring. Depending on the size of the truck and the nature of the cargo, a truck driver needs to hold additional qualifications or endorsements on their commercial driving license (CDL). When a trucking company fails to ensure that drivers hold the necessary qualifications for the job and have a clean driving record, they could be partially or wholly liable in the event of any trucking accidents caused by their truck drivers.

Lack of Truck Servicing and Maintenance

Some trucking companies put profit before safety, endangering the lives of their truck drivers as well as those of the general public. Trucking companies are under the obligation to maintain and service their vehicles in a timely manner. If a trucking company violated any regulations when it comes to replacing truck parts or servicing trucks, a victim could potentially hold them responsible for any injuries and damages.

Skipping Mandated Rest Periods

Truck drivers have a legal obligation to observe certain rest-periods as well as maintain hours-of-service documentation such as driving logbooks. However, trucking companies may pressure and rush drivers, encouraging them to skip rest periods and falsify records. This is illegal. If you can prove that a trucking company acted negligently in denying truck drivers adequate rest, you could hold the trucking company responsible for your losses.

Third-Party Liability

In some cases, the truck driver and trucking company did everything right and a third-party bears responsibility for a trucking accident. This can happen when a vehicle manufacturing defect causes an accident. In this case, a plaintiff could sue the truck manufacturer.  If the trucking company hired to maintain, service, and repair trucks, failed to do their job correctly, they may also be liable for an accident victim's damages.

Determining liability in a trucking accident can be highly complicated and require extensive knowledge of truck regulations, technical expertise, and tenacity. Having a dedicated truck accident lawyer from Labrum Law Firm by your side can help hold all negligent parties responsible.

How to Receive Compensation for Your Trucking Accident

Getting into a trucking accident with a large and heavy vehicle can result in catastrophic injuries for occupants of any passenger vehicles involved. Depending on your injuries, compensation could include:

  • Medical bills - Future expected medical bills
  • Lost income - Loss of future income due to a permanent or long-lasting disability or injury
  • Property damage - To the vehicle and/or the content insides
  • Pain and suffering

Going it alone, especially if you are still recovering from injuries from your trucking accident, can feel stressful and overwhelming. An experienced and passionate truck accident lawyer can handle all aspects of your claim, leaving you free to heal from your ordeal. Call the attorneys at Labrum Law Firm today at (615) 338-9500 to learn more about how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. 

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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