Insurance Coverage Disputes

Liability in Trucking Accidents: Considering All the Options

Have you recently been in a trucking accident that you are confident was not your fault? While this is a good start for any subsequent personal injury claim you might want to file, it is actually not the most important part of your case. Instead, you have to become confident in knowing who is at fault.

When you act as a plaintiff in a truck accident case, you are not necessarily saying you are not to blame for the crash. You are saying the defendant is to blame, though. By backing up your words with strong evidence – like photographs, testimonies, and police reports – you can make your claim valid and convincing before a judge or jury, hopefully allowing you to secure ample compensation from the liable party.

But who is the liable party? Are you confident you know who played a part in the collision? Trucking accidents are infamous for making it difficult to pinpoint liability due to all the different parties that could share in the liability.

Five of the most commonly cited defendants in truck accident claims are:

  • Truck driver: When assigning liability in an accident claim, the most obvious answer is often correct, or at least mostly correct. That is to say, if you think the truck driver is partially or mostly liable for the collision, you are probably right. No one else but the trucker has direct control of their vehicle, so it is up to them to try to prevent a truck accident. Truck drivers may also illegally partake in alcohol consumption before hitting the road. A big rig is extremely difficult to safely drive under ideal conditions, but it is impossible to operate safely when its driver is intoxicated. The same can be said of truckers who are unreasonably exhausted.
  • Trucking company: While on the same vein as truck driver exhaustion, it is important to realize that trucking companies can play a significant role in how or why a trucking accident occurs. Each trucking company has the inherent responsibility to take care of its truck drivers and insist they always meet Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. When a FMCSA violation does occur, it often falls upon the trucking company for failing to uphold the utmost standards of safety and compliance. In turn, accidents caused by an FMCSA violation put liability onto the trucking company. For example, trucking companies that make their drivers stay on the road beyond the FMCSA daily limit of 11 hours behind the wheel in a single day will create trucker exhaustion and put everyone on the road at risk of a catastrophic crash.
  • Mechanics: All of the moving parts of a commercial truck are constantly under extreme stress and pressure. Most commercial trucks are limited to 80,000 pounds in total weight, and trucking companies like to keep them as near to this limit as possible; this ensures delivery efficiency is maximized by reducing the amount of trips needed to haul freight. All of this weight strains the brakes, axles, and so forth. Mechanics contracted by truckers or trucking companies are tasked with spotting any damage to the truck’s parts and making appropriate repairs or replacements. Failing to meet acceptable maintenance standards but allowing a truck to leave their shop could make that mechanic liable for damages in any resulting trucking accidents.
  • Load crew: Commercial trucks are primarily used to lug massive amounts of cargo from point A to point B. As aforementioned, the maximum weight of a truck, including cargo, is 80,000 pounds. However, the total weight of a truck is not the only aspect to consider when discussing freight. How cargo is loaded onto a commercial truck is just as important, even being outlined by FMCSA guidelines. Load crews that put freight into a tractor trailer or onto a large commercial truck bed have to stick to these guidelines. Poorly or incorrectly loading a big rig could cause it to become unbalanced, capable of being tipped over during sharp turns or strong gusts of wind. The brake system may also be put under incredible stress if the cargo is misloaded and puts an abnormal amount of weight over one set of wheels.
  • Truck part manufacturer: Do not forget that the manufacturer of the truck’s parts could be liable for any trucking accidents. Maintenance crews, truck drivers, and trucking companies alike all have the right to assume that the parts of a commercial truck are not defective. They might not even have any way to detect defects before they happen, even with regular and careful maintenance. If there is reason to believe a part gave out unexpectedly, then you need to consider how the manufacturer might be partly or mostly liable.

Determine Liability with Our Law Firm’s Guidance

Haffner Law Group and our Ventura personal injury attorneys can help you decide liability in your trucking accident case. With our decades of total legal experience and client-focused approach to casework, you can trust in us to take care of you. We want you to feel comfortable and confident as your case progresses. Ultimately, we are not satisfied until we deliver you the greatest outcome possible.

Get more information about how to file a claim by contacting our Ventura truck accident lawyers.