Determining liability in an auto accident injury can be difficult. Between two drivers, there are conflicting stories and recollections of the event. Simply deducing fault can take a thorough investigation. Once a driver’s fault is determined, it’s easy to assign liability. They made a negligent error or broke a traffic law, and they are held accountable.
It’s easy to assume that the same standard would be held in a commercial truck accident. This is not always the case. There are other entities involved. The trucker works for someone else, and this employer could be responsible for the accident. Truckers also deal with companies that load and unload the trucks, and these companies may be at fault. The circumstances surrounding the accident determine who is liable.
A Commercial Truck Crash
The kind of vehicle doesn’t affect a driver’s liability. Whether it’s a commercial trucker, ice cream man, or rideshare driver, if they made a mistake, they can be held liable. Truckers are professionals, but they are only people. They can get distracted on the road, speed, take risks, or make any other common mistake.
At-fault drivers can be guilty of negligence, meaning they failed to do something. If, for example, a trucker was busy playing with the radio and caused an accident, they failed to pay attention to the road. Liable drivers could also be guilty of a strict liability, meaning they directly broke a rule and endangered someone. A drunk trucker, for example, is guilty of a strict liability.
It may be odd to consider that an employer, who wasn’t even present at the accident, could be responsible for the crash. Consider, however, the demands they place on their workers.
By law, truckers have a set amount of hours they can work. They cannot go above this limit because doing so can lead to serious fatigue on the road. We know through various studies that fatigue can have similar or worse effects on driving as intoxication.
If a trucker pushes themselves beyond their allotted hours, they are responsible for any fatigue and ensuing wrecks. If, however, they are pressured by their employers to overstep that limit, the employer can be held accountable for any damage the trucker causes.
Sometimes a wreck is not the fault of either driver. There could be defects within the vehicle itself. In such cases, it may be necessary to file a claim against the manufacturer.
Defective product lawsuits can be filed under three different conditions: mislabeling, defective design, and manufacturer error. Mislabeling happens when a product has an unexpected danger, the manufacturer knows about it, and they don’t properly warn the customers. Defective design means that there was a problem in the product’s engineering. There was an inherent danger that was overlooked, and all the products carry the same flaw. Manufacturer error occurs when something goes wrong during the production of the vehicle. Its wheels are not properly attached; the steering wheel is too loose, etc.
Truck Owner Liability
All vehicle owners are responsible for keeping their cars safe for travel. If, for example, a wreck was caused by bad, bald tires, that is the fault of the driver who failed to maintain their car. Trucking accidents are the same. Whoever owns the vehicle is responsible for its upkeep.
In a commercial trucking accident, ownership can be hard to track down. Perhaps the trucker is an independent contractor and owns their own truck. In that case, they are responsible. However, the vehicle could be owned by the trucking company, making them liable for its upkeep. Even this situation can become nebulous. Maybe the company owns its trucks outright, or maybe it rents them from another company. This makes the chain of possession harder to determine. The trucking company says the rental company must maintain the vehicles, and the rental company blames the trucking company.
Such confusion is intentional. It’s a way of avoiding liability in an accident. If a poorly maintained truck caused you harm, get help from a lawyer. They can use their investigative skills to identify both the owner of the vehicle and who is responsible for its upkeep.
A cargo spill on the road is highly dangerous. Big, heavy objects can smash down on the car behind the truck, causing serious harm. Sometimes, truckers haul hazardous materials, leaving deadly injuries in a cargo spill.
In a cargo spill, liability will likely rest on the last person to handle the cargo or the CARGO DOOR. If the cargo itself spilled over in the truck, breaking through the door, that is the fault of whoever loaded it. If the door or latch came loose, causing cargo to spill out, liability lies on whoever handled the door last.
Truckers are often barred from handling the cargo or the door for this very reason. They want to avoid liability. In that case, the loading company will be liable for the spill Once again, you will need your attorney’s investigative skills to hunt down the person responsible for this cargo spill.
If you’ve been hurt in a commercial trucking accident, contact our firm today for help. You can fill out an online contact form or call us at (937) 403-9033.