Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

2/28/2020 By Andrea Gold Read in 3 minutes

About 500,000 truck accidents take place every year in the United States. Injuries can be severe, leading to long recovery time. Find out who is liable.

About 500,000 truck accidents take place every year in the United States. Injuries can be severe, leading to a long recovery time, lost wages, expensive medical bills, and more. 

You’re driving home on the highway, and you notice an 18 Wheeler swerving slightly. You continue to drive with caution. All of a sudden, the truck cuts in front of you sideswiping your car. As your car stops, you’re hit from behind by two other vehicles. 

You don’t seem to have any severe injuries, but your car is totaled. You realize you’re lucky to be alive. Getting into an accident with a truck can be scary and life-threatening. You will have medical bills to pay, and you’re probably going to need a new car. 

Who is liable for the damages in a truck accident?

Truck Driver

 A truck driver may be found liable if he or she is under the influence of drugs and alcohol or driving recklessly. In most cases, the truck company is responsible for the damages. There are a few instances when a commercial truck driver can be found liable for the accident.

When is a Truck Driver Liable?

  • Accident is deliberate-if a truck driver is angry and takes it upon his or herself to deliberately crash into another truck or car the truck driver will most likely be found liable for the accident.
  • Independent contractor-some truck drivers are independent contractors. They are responsible for their truck, gas, truck repairs, and all commercial driver’s license fees. These drivers generally have a contract with a trucking company. If the driver is in an accident and it’s his or her fault, they will most likely be the liable party.
  • Acting outside the scope of employment-if the truck driver is doing something outside the scope of their job when the accident occurs, they could be held liable for the accident.
  • Improper cargo loading-there are strict laws and regulations on how to load cargo based on weight, size, length, width, and height limits. This falls under the responsibility of the truck operator and the cargo loading team. If the cargo isn’t properly loaded onto the truck, it could fall off the truck and into traffic, causing a serious accident.
  • Truck Company

    In most cases, the truck company is responsible for the damages in a truck accident. If you have been in a collision with a truck driver, see below to find out when the company is liable. 

    • Negligent Hiring-the company is required to hire truck drivers that are trained and have a commercial driver’s license. It’s the company's responsibility to make sure the driver is adequately trained and has all the necessary qualifications for the job.
    • Negligent Maintenance-the company is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the vehicle. They are required to perform routine maintenance and inspections. If an accident is caused due to a lack of maintenance upkeep, the company will most likely be held liable.
    • Mandatory hour violations-truck drivers are required by law to drive only a certain amount of hours a day. If they go beyond this set number of hours, an accident can take place. If the trucking company is requiring its drivers to go beyond this set hour, the company may be held liable for the accident.
    •  

    Truck Manufacturer

    The truck manufacturer may be held liable for damages if certain conditions take place. 

    • Defective vehicle
    • Defective lighting
    • Brake failure
    • The use of aftermarket parts
    • Tire failure
    • Steering system failure
    •  

    Truck accidents can be devastating for you and your family. In most cases, there will be doctor’s bills and property damage to pay. There are varying circumstances in determining who is liable. Once a thorough investigation of the accident takes place with evidence from both sides, a decision is made. 

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