When you are the victim of a trucking accident, you may have a more difficult time figuring out who is liable for the accident. While the truck driver may be partially liable, there may be various other issues to consider.
Commercial trucking accidents can be particularly dangerous due to the size and nature of such vehicles. They are considerably larger than normal passenger vehicles, and may often be carrying or towing large cargo loads.
As such, they are more difficult to stop, and have longer braking distances compared to other vehicles on the road. Trucking accidents can therefore be very serious and may result in major traffic accidents that cause severe injuries and much property damage.
What are Some Common Trucking Accident Injuries?
Trucking accidents can vary depending on the circumstances. Common injuries that can result from a trucking accident may include:
- Whiplash injuries (for instance, if the truck is unable to stop and rear-ends the car in front of them);
- Broken bone injuries;
- Head, neck, and spine injuries;
- Injuries resulting from fires or explosions; and/or
- Injuries connected with exposure to chemicals or toxic substances (for instance, if a truck is hauling dangerous chemicals).
Trucking accidents can also cause accidents in ways that are not typical for smaller passenger vehicles. For instance, many trucking accident cases can involve car flip-overs or roll-overs, crushed vehicles, and accidents involving multiple vehicles. Even at slower speeds, large trucks can cause serious injuries and major accidents.
Who is the Responsible in a Trucking Accident?
When the truck is at fault, many different parties may be liable for the accident. This is due to the respondent-superior relationship that the parties have, making them liable for the driver’s accidents. Thus, potentially liable parties include:
- Truck driver (who drove in a negligent manner, such as jackknifing at an inappropriate time);
- Owner of the truck (who hired the negligent driver);
- Owner of the trucking company that employs the driver; and/or
- Company who loads the truck’s cargo.
Since so many parties are involved, the parties may attempt to escape liability and force the other parties’ insurance companies to settle.
Can the Non-Driving Parties Escape Liability for a Trucking Accident?
In some cases, the non-driving parties will try to escape liability by creating distance between themselves and the driver and the equipment. They may argue that the driver was not an employee of theirs and that they do not own the equipment.
Nevertheless, under new federal legislature, the government holds the trucking company and truck leasers liable even if they created a more distanced relationship between themselves and the driver. But this does not guarantee that the parties are financially liable as they can escape liability if they have a good argument.
What are Other Possible Causes of Trucking Accidents?
In some cases, a trucking accident may not be the fault of either the truck driver or the trucking company. In some instances, the accident may actually be caused by a defect with the truck or one of the truck’s parts (such as a defective brake pad).
In such cases, the manufacturer of the truck or truck part might be held liable under product liability or defective product laws. Some common defects that can contribute to a trucking accident may include:
- Defective engine components;
- Problems with the braking or stopping mechanisms of the truck;
- Defective tires (can lead to a tire explosion or blowout, which can result in an accident);
- Defects with the truck’s signals or horn; and/or
- Various other types of defects.
Generally speaking, trucking defects can fall into three main categories of defects. These are: manufacturing defects (issues with the way the truck or truck parts were assembled); design defects (errors in the way the truck or part was designed or engineered); and warning defects (defects that have to do with the safety or hazard warning associated with the truck or truck part).
In other cases, defective mechanic work can also contribute to a trucking accident. In that type of situation, it may be possible to hold the mechanic or mechanic company liable for injuries stemming from a defective repair. An example of this is where a mechanic knowingly uses a part that is defective and has already been subject to a recall.
Are there any Legal Remedies for a Trucking Accident Lawsuit?
Trucking accident lawsuits may be needed in order to resolve any legal issues or conflicts associated with an accident. In such lawsuits, the legal remedy will likely be a monetary damages award that is issued to the non-liable party. The damages can cover a broad range of losses experienced by the injured party. These can include:
- Medical or hospital costs;
- Costs of repairing damaged property;
- Lost wages or loss of future earning capacity;
- Pain and suffering damages; and/or
- Various other costs.
Do I Need to Hire an Attorney for Help with a Trucking Accident Claim?
If you are involved in a trucking accident, you may wish to hire a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can help you discover the chain of responsibility and help you maximize your personal injury award. They can also defend you in the event that the court finds you are liable for the accident. On top of that, your attorney can provide guidance and representation during the court process.