If you have been injured in a truck accident, you need to speak to a truck accident lawyer immediately. An attorney will be able to tell you what your case is worth and will represent you in court. They will also tell you who is liable for your damages from your truck accidents. Liability is sometimes not obvious at first, but after an investigation, it is clear who should be held responsible for the accident.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 118,000 large trucks were involved in crashes that led to severe injuries in 2019. They also reported that large trucks account for 10% of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes, 4% of all registered vehicles, and 7% of total vehicle miles traveled. So who is held responsible for these accidents? It depends on the circumstances surrounding the crash.
When The Truck Driver Is Liable
In general, truck drivers are not liable for accidents if they are acting within the scope of their employment. However, truck drivers can be liable for damages when they have broken the law. Their violation caused an accident that led to another driver or any of their passengers being injured. Even so, liability will still likely be put on the trucking company unless:
- The driver was reckless, careless, or negligent while behind the wheel
- The driver was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the accident
- The driver was using the truck outside of the scope of their employment for personal purposes
- The driver was speeding
- The driver was texting or otherwise distracted while driving
- The driver is an independent contractor and thus not a trucking company employee. Typically, truck drivers who are independent contractors are required to have their own auto insurance.
When The Employers Is Liable
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry and sets mandatory regulations on how many hours truck drivers are allowed to work every day and every week. For example, property-carrying drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty, and passenger-carrying drivers have a 10-hour driving limit after eight consecutive hours off duty. Drivers may not drive more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Even though trucking companies can face fines and penalties for not abiding by these rules, they find ways to circumvent proper reporting in driving logbooks and force their drivers to drive for much longer than is allowed to rake in higher profits or make their customers happy. This means that drivers aren’t getting the proper sleep they need to stay alert.
The FMCSA also specifies weight and balance requirements for loading cargo on trucks. If the accident was caused by imbalanced cargo, the cargo loaders could be held liable for their contribution to the accident.
When The Truck Manufacturer Is Liable
If an investigation proves that the accident was caused by a defective part in the truck, like a brake system, then the manufacturer can be held liable for the accident and subsequent injuries caused by those defects. If the trucking company knew about the defect or design flaw and didn’t do anything about it, then they can be held responsible for paying all economic and non-economic damages to the injured victims, damages to the surviving loved ones if the accident led to wrongful death, and can even face criminal penalties. You should never go up against the large manufacturing companies by yourself. Hire a personal injury attorney with experience going up against these companies and getting the maximum compensation possible for their clients.