Who Can Be Held Liable for Truck Accidents?
Posted on Thursday, December 1st, 2022 at 5:17 pm
When you’ve been injured in an accident with a commercial truck, you likely find yourself in pain and shock. It’s even worse if the accident wasn’t your fault. Because so many people and companies are involved in getting a commercial truck onto the road, there are many potentially liable parties.
In a truck accident, multiple parties may be held liable, including the truck driver, the trucking company, and the company responsible for maintaining the truck. If a defect in the truck or its parts played a role in the accident, the manufacturer of the defective equipment might also be held liable. Additionally, if a third party, such as another driver, contributed to the accident, they may also be held liable. Ultimately, the specific circumstances of the accident will determine who can be held liable.
Identifying All Liable Parties
Most people don’t have a lot of experience with the legal system or even with the insurance claims process. After you’ve been injured in a crash with a truck, it can be confusing to try to figure out what to do first.
Your best bet is to hire an experienced truck accident attorney. Your attorney will know how to identify the parties responsible for your accident and how to pursue compensation from those parties. Liability is not as simple as, “the truck driver was driving, it’s their fault.” A number of other factors must be evaluated to determine liability.
Employer Liability for Truck Accidents
Usually, truck drivers are in the employ of a company. When they are involved in an accident while working, their employer may be liable if the truck driver’s negligence caused a crash. The driver may have exceeded their allowed Hours of Service. Whether the driver drove more hours than required because they wanted to make more money or because their employer pushed them to do so to get more deliveries made in less time, the employer could be responsible.
The employer could also be responsible if they hired inexperienced or unqualified drivers or if they failed to check references that might have turned up poor driving records. Employers are meant to provide adequate training for drivers on the specific trucks they use, as required. If the driver was negligent while working for the employer, they were acting as an agent of the employer, and the trucking company could be found liable for the injured party’s accident-related losses.
Maintenance Company Liability
Trucking companies are required to frequently and adequately see to the maintenance of their fleet. Sometimes, trucking companies take care of this routine maintenance in-house, but many companies contract this work to maintenance companies. If a truck accident was caused by a recent repair or by a part or system that should have received maintenance attention but was overlooked, the maintenance company could be liable for the injuries and losses from the accident.
Truck Manufacturers’ Liability for Accidents
When a manufacturer produces a truck, and a trucking company buys it, the company expects the truck to operate as intended. Truck manufacturers have various layers of quality control, but sometimes a defective part falls through the cracks. If a faulty part or system on the truck causes an accident, the manufacturer of the specific part or of the truck could be held liable.
If another driver caused the crash that involved the truck and the injured party’s vehicle, that person could be held liable for the resulting costs. Whether the person pulled out in front of the truck and caused a pile-up or jackknife that impacted other vehicles or they took some other action that caused a crash, they could be liable.
Government Entities’ Failure to Maintain the Roads
Government agencies and municipalities have a duty to properly maintain streets and intersections. If, for example, the city failed to post signs at a dangerous turn or clean up debris that would result in a pile-up, the municipality could be liable for accidents that result. Other failures may involve:
- Unmarked detours
- Train track barriers
- Fallen electrical lines
- Broken streetlights
Contact Truck Accident Lawyers to Hold All Parties Liable
Thus, everyone from manufacturers to municipalities could be at fault for truck accidents. Your lawyer would conduct a thorough investigation, aided by police reports, witness testimony, and other evidence, to determine which parties were ultimately responsible.
If you were injured in a truck accident that wasn’t your fault, get help untangling the web of at-fault parties and their respective insurers. For decades, the Lakewood truck accident attorneys of The Law Offices of Briggs & Briggs have done just that, recovering multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for injured victims throughout Washington. Call (253) 588-6696 today for a free case evaluation.