Who is Liable in a Trucking Accident?
Once the shock of an accident has worn off, liability in a trucking accident is a major concern for all parties. Unfortunately, trucking accidents can be expensive ordeals because large vehicles often cause extensive damage and injuries. Holding the right party responsible will help ensure that you get the payout you deserve.
It’s not always clear which party is responsible. It’s never just black and white - sometimes the trucking company is the liable party, while in other cases the driver is responsible. If the truck had a defect that caused the accident, the truck manufacturer or mechanic may be held accountable. If the driver is an independent contractor, the liability changes. There may even be a culpable third-party in some cases.
It’s best to consult a lawyer before filing any paperwork in a trucking accident case, they’ll be able to best identify the liable party.
When the Truck Driver is Liable
Usually, a truck driver works for a company that is legally responsible for them, but in an increasing amount of cases truck drivers are working as independent contractors. In these cases, the truck driver may be liable. Truck drivers are only human - they may have gotten distracted, encountered a mechanical error, or been under the influence, in which case they are held accountable in all monetary disputes.
When the Trucking Company is Liable
The company that hired the trucker is usually the liable party. The difficulty comes in finding proof, which is why it’s best to have a lawyer in an injury case. The truck could have a number of defects, or the company could have been cutting corners, neglecting to properly maintain the vehicle. There are many reasons the trucking company could have caused an accident but it is difficult to obtain records that would prove this.
Truck Owner or Mechanic Liability
Not all trucking companies own their trucks, sometimes there is another individual involved. The person who owns the truck is responsible for maintenance and inspections. A mechanical error can cause the trucking company to blame the owner of the truck.
If the accident happens because of an error or malfunction with a truck or vehicle the manufacturer could be responsible. If your lawyer can prove it was a mechanical error on the part of the maker, that company can be held accountable.
Cargo Load Problems
The cargo itself can be responsible for an accident. All cargo has to pass through an inspection to make sure it is sealed and safe and the driver should be informed of any safety protocols. Sometimes the cargo includes hazardous materials, like fuel, items containing mercury, nitrate-rich fertilizers, and other risky equipment. These items can contribute to the severity of the accident.
Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney
Seek help from a local law firm experienced with these types of cases. They can explain the steps you need to take going forward. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, you deserve fair compensation. Insurance companies and trucking companies will have a law team on their side. It’s important that you have someone represent you. Call the Alexander Law Group, PLC at 804-271-1969 to speak to an attorney that can help.