Most of our everyday items are delivered to us through ground shipping. The trucking industry accounts for 12 percent of all registered motor vehicles in the US, and there are over 8 million people who work in the truck driving industry in some capacity. An increase in the number of online orders during the COVID-19 pandemic also led to more trucks on the road making deliveries.
When an accident happens, it is vital to determine who should be held liable for your damages. Huntington Beach lawyer Timothy J. Ryan recommends working with an experienced personal injury attorney with a successful track record of proving liability in truck cases so that you can get the maximum compensation possible.
Table of Contents
Who is Liable for a Truck Crash?
Negligence in Hiring
Trucking companies have a duty to conduct background checks and only hire qualified drivers with valid commercial driver licenses (and endorsements when applicable). They should never hire drivers who have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), speeding, or other traffic violations. If a driver has a history of reckless driving, then the trucking company should turn down that prospective employee.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires employers to obtain at least three years’ worth of work and driving experience for potential employees in order to meet compliance requirements. If trucking companies do not complete their due diligence, then they can incur hefty fines and penalties.
They must also check a prospective employee on the FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, an online database that provides real-time information about a CDL driver’s prior drug and alcohol program violations if any. The background check can reveal whether or not the driver has ever tested positive for the list of specified drugs, refused to submit to a required alcohol or drug test, or if they’ve ever used alcohol within eight hours of an accident.
Trucking companies are expected to regularly monitor their drivers and their driving logs, conduct random drug and alcohol tests and ensure that they are not violating any laws. When managers are negligent in supervising their drivers, then drivers can be held liable. Trucking companies can be held liable if an investigation turns up that the managers:
- Failed to report truck accidents
- Failed to report safety violations to the federal government
- Failed to provide adequate education and training to lower-level management and drivers
- Encouraged truck drivers to work longer hours than legally permitted
The Hours Of Service Regulations were created by the FMCSA. For property-carrying drivers, there is an 11-hour driving limit following ten consecutive hours off duty. They must also take a 30-minute break when they have driven for eight cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption. Passenger carrying drivers have a 10-hour driving limit after eight consecutive hours off duty.
Improperly Maintaining Vehicles
The average trucker will drive over 100,000 miles per year, which equates to approximately 40 trips across the US. Therefore, truck maintenance is extremely important. Truck drivers are required to continuously inspect their vehicles and fill out accurate inspection records daily. If they put off maintenance inspections to save time, they risk missing a potential hazard.
Trucking companies can also be held liable for a truck crash caused by negligent employees due to a legal doctrine called respondeat superior. Victims of truck accidents where the driver used poor judgment can file a claim against both the individual driver and their employer. Because trucking companies typically carry much larger insurance coverage than individuals, the plaintiff could receive more in damages when they file a claim against the trucking company.
Contact Crash Attorney
Establishing liability takes time, resources, legal knowledge, and persistence. When you have suffered a personal injury in California, then you need a guide with knowledge of the state laws to protect you and help you get what you deserve. Truck accident attorney Timothy J. Ryan has helped victims of accidents just like you to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. Call 714-908-9069 to schedule your free consultation.