Determining liability after a truck accident is complicated. Depending on the root cause of the problem, multiple parties may even be held liable. Truckers and truck companies often try to avoid liability, as being the party responsible for a major accident comes with expensive bills, a negative reputation, and in extreme cases, criminal charges.
Let’s go over the different parties that may be held liable after a truck-related accident and what your options are to seek justice.
The Truck Driver
Driver error is one of the most common reasons, not only for truck accidents, but for all motor vehicle accidents. Because of the size of a commercial truck or big-rig, truck drivers have an extra responsibility to drive safely to protect others on the road. The driver may be found liable if they engaged in dangerous behavior that led to an accident.
Unfortunately, it is not a rare occurrence that truck drivers get behind the wheel after drinking. Alcohol affects drivers in numerous ways, including:
- Blurry vision
- Delayed reaction time
- Lack of concentration
- Decreased ability to calculate risk
If a truck driver is feeling these effects of alcohol while driving, it can lead to a major accident.
Additionally, if the accident results in someone’s death, the driver could be charged with criminally negligent homicide.
With all of our handheld technology, vehicle features, and advertisements along roadsides, it can be easy to get distracted. However, it is crucial that truck drivers give their full attention to the road.
Common distractions for drivers include:
- Texting while driving
- Talking on the phone
- Adjusting the radio
- Eating while driving
- Observing surroundings rather than focusing on the road
If the truck collides with another vehicle because the driver was distracted, the driver can be held liable for injuries and damage.
Truck drivers are often on the roads for an extended period of time. This leads to extreme fatigue for drivers. In an effort to decrease this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates that truck drivers can drive for a maximum of 11 hours per day. Still, this is a lengthy period of time to be traveling. Additionally, at the end of the long day, truck drivers tend to get low-quality sleep in their truck beds.
After numerous hours of driving with poor sleep in between, fatigue can negatively impact the truck driver’s ability to safely operate the vehicle. While this is a real struggle for truck drivers, it does not excuse them from liability in a fatigue-related truck accident.
The Truck Company
Even if the accident was caused by driver error, the truck company who employed that driver may be held partially responsible.
When truck companies hire drivers, they are expected to:
- Conduct background checks: This is to ensure the driver has a clear record with no history of reckless driving or DUI offenses.
- Provide training: Technically, truck drivers can get their CDLs with no mandatory prior training. Truck companies are expected to provide adequate training to their drivers and ensure that they are experienced enough to operate the truck safely.
- Conduct drug tests: Because truck drivers are operating such large vehicles, truck companies should be routinely drug testing their employees.
Companies should be paying close attention to the employees they choose to hire. A legal principle called ‘respondeat superior’ states that ‘a party is responsible for the acts of their agents.’ Under this framework, truck companies take on liability when they hire drivers.
The Truck Parts Manufacturers
When truck parts are defective or malfunction, it can lead to a serious accident.
- Tire blowouts can cause a trucker to lose control of the vehicle.
- Brake failure will leave trucks unable to slow down.
- Defective fuel tanks can potentially catch fire and cause an explosion.
Once it has been determined that faulty truck parts were the cause of the accident, it can be tricky to track down the at-fault manufacturer. Many are located overseas and are hard to contact. A personal injury attorney will know the necessary steps to find the manufacturer and hold them responsible.
When Multiple Parties Are Held Liable
It is not uncommon for multiple parties to be held responsible after a truck accident. If multiple of the factors described above were part of the reason for the accident, then more than one party is liable. For example, if the driver was speeding and the brakes failed.
Filing A Personal Injury Claim
You can sustain incredibly severe injuries after a truck-related accident. Some common injuries include:
- Head injuries
- Rib injuries
- Broken bones
In the most extreme cases, these accidents can be fatal.
After a traumatic truck accident, you have the right to seek compensation for your damages.
You could receive payment for:
- Medical bills
- Anticipated medical costs
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
By hiring a personal injury attorney to work on your case with you, you maximize the amount of compensation you receive. On average, people who work with a personal injury attorney get three times more compensation. Not only are there financial benefits to hiring an attorney, but they can also help you keep your claim organized. Talking to insurance companies, organizing documents, researching, and collecting evidence can be overwhelming. When you work with an attorney, they can handle all of that.
At Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., our Pittsburgh injury attorneys are ready to take your call. We offer free case consultations so we can learn more about your situation and begin planning the next best steps. You can reach our team at (844) 383-0565.