You head out on the road every day—whether to work or on a family road trip—trusting that other motorists will not put your life in danger by driving recklessly. As nervous as you may be to share the road with massive commercial semi-trucks, you have the same trust that their drivers are trained, focused, and able to control their vehicles. So, when you are obeying traffic laws and driving safely and are hit by a tractor-trailer, who will pay for your damages? That all depends on who is determined to be at fault—and it could be more than just the truck driver.
Liability in Commercial Truck Crashes
Like any accident, a number of things can cause a semi-truck crash. A collision could be the fault of a careless motorist who cuts the truck off or fails to yield to a merging truck. When the cause of the crash rests with the truck, however, there are a few potentially liable parties. These include the following:
- The driver. In many crashes, the action of the truck driver is the primary cause of the accident. Actions that could cause a serious crash include speeding, reckless lane changes and merges, or following too closely. If the driver is fatigued, impaired, or distracted, he will be more likely to make these kinds of fatal mistakes and will be found at fault for the crash.
- The trucking company. The driver’s employer may be found at fault if he knowingly hired an unqualified driver, sent an unlicensed driver out on the road, failed to conduct regular health exams and drug tests, or pushed a driver to work beyond allowable driving hours. The company or owner of the truck could be liable in the crash if they failed to inspect the truck and maintain it in good working condition.
- The shipper or cargo loader. Loads that are unbalanced, unrestrained, or too heavy can make a truck hard to handle and lead to a loss of control that the driver is unable to correct. Improper handling of hazardous materials could also be the fault of the shipper and not the driver.
- A parts manufacturer. When mechanical systems—such as the brakes, trailer coupling, or electrical system—fail despite regular inspection and maintenance, the manufacturer of the part or system may be liable for the resulting damages.
- A mechanic or repair shop. If the truck was properly inspected by the owner but sent to an outside mechanic for safety repairs, the mechanic or repair shop could be responsible for a crash that is the result of an unrepaired mechanical issue.
In some cases, more than one of these parties could be found at fault in an accident that leaves other drivers injured. Each of these entities carries his own insurance and could be responsible for paying an injured driver’s damages.
You Will Need an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney
Determining all of the parties who may be at fault in a commercial truck accident is vital to recovering a settlement that will meet your needs when you are seriously injured. While the driver may be ticketed at the scene, it is not likely that anyone will investigate further to determine if other parties contributed to the cause of the crash. When you hire a truck accident attorney from Keller & Keller, you can be sure that we will pursue every potentially liable party in order to get you the maximum possible settlement. Was the driver qualified? We will obtain his employee file and licensing information. Was the driver reckless or impaired? We will get his driving record and results of his drug tests to look for a pattern. Was the truck improperly loaded? We will find out who loaded it and whether it was done to legal standards. Was the truck in good working order? We will get copies of inspection and repair records for the truck.
Commercial truck crashes can result in significant settlements for injured motorists, but it is an uphill battle and one you need to be prepared for. If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial truck crash, call us to schedule a free consultation. You don’t pay us unless we win for you, so you have nothing to lose. Connect with us today!