A central concept in personal injury law is that someone who causes another person injuries is liable – that is, legally responsible – for compensating that person accordingly. Truck accidents present a unique challenge, though, as they often involve several liable parties, high compensation figures, and multiple insurance carriers. Let’s explore who is liable in a truck accident and how that can affect your case.
The Truck Driver’s Role and Responsibility
Truck drivers play a vital role in the safe operation of their vehicles and in adhering to traffic laws. They are also responsible for following hours-of-service regulations, which limit the number of hours they can drive to prevent driver fatigue. Other ways that truck drivers can help prevent accidents include:
- Avoiding distractions while driving like cell phones
- Maintaining a safe distance from other vehicles
- Following speed limits
- Checking before changing lanes or turning
Reckless driving, speeding, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can significantly increase the risk of truck accidents. Truck driver negligence – that is, their failure to act in a way that reduces the risk of harm to others – can make them responsible for the consequences.
Trucking Company Liability
Trucking companies are often liable parties in truck accident cases. They can reduce their risk of liability and accidents if they:
- Hire qualified and licensed drivers who meet safety and background standards
- Provide proper training to their drivers, including testing and continued education
- Comply with state and federal regulations, including those set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
- Maintain accurate records
- Use a reliable maintenance provider for regular inspections and timely repairs
If a trucking company fails to fulfill these responsibilities or encourages unsafe practices, it can be responsible for accidents caused by its drivers. Companies are also liable for the actions of their employees under the legal concept of vicarious liability.
Maintenance Providers and Manufacturers
Maintenance providers and manufacturers can also bear liability in truck accidents caused by mechanical failures, brake malfunctions, and other problems stemming from poor repair. Maintenance companies and contractors must provide the following:
- Proper maintenance from trained and qualified repair personnel
- In-depth inspections to check for worn or damaged equipment
- Prompt communication with the truck company about any potential safety issues
Additionally, truck manufacturers can be responsible for accidents resulting from design defects or production errors.
Contributory Factors and Comparative Negligence
Truck accidents are often the result of multiple factors and can involve shared liability among several parties. For example, if the truck driver was speeding and also couldn’t slow their vehicle in time due to faulty brakes, both the driver and the company responsible for maintaining the vehicle could be liable.
Crucially, Virginia allows for joint and several liability, which means each tortfeasor (the party that committed the personal injury) can be held responsible for the full extent of the damage that all the tortfeasors collectively caused. This dynamic can make it easier for injured parties to get the fair compensation they deserve.
Truck Accidents and the Role of Experienced Attorneys
Commercial trucks’ massive size and weight increase the likelihood of severe or fatal injuries in a crash. Compensation in a truck accident case can be higher than in a regular car accident because the consequences are so severe. There could be multiple liable parties and several insurance carriers. However, recovering full compensation from powerful businesses armed with teams of defense lawyers can be challenging.
An experienced truck accident lawyer is a crucial ally in these circumstances. They know how to gather evidence, assess truck accident liability, and negotiate with insurance companies. Truck companies and insurers know they can’t push around an accident victim whose lawyer is willing to take them to court.
Contact Our Skilled Truck Accident Lawyers
If you were hurt in a truck accident someone else caused, the skilled truck accident lawyers at Kendall Law Firm want to help you at no upfront cost. Contact us today for a free consultation and learn more about liability in a truck accident.