Who is Responsible in a Commercial Trucking Accident?
While any auto accident can result in difficulty proving fault, if you are involved in a commercial trucking accident, the issue becomes much more complex. This is because, unlike a car accident where there is usually only one at-fault party, there can be many different liable parties in a truck accident. The vast majority of trucking accidents involve a large commercial truck and a smaller passenger vehicle.
A typical commercial truck can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when loaded, and the average passenger vehicle weighs between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds; this disparity is very significant when an accident occurs. Those in the smaller vehicle almost always suffer extremely serious injuries or even death. If the commercial truck happens to be carrying hazardous cargo, or more than one passenger vehicle is involved, the number of serious injuries and deaths can multiply exponentially.
What are the primary causes of commercial trucking accidents?
There are many different causes of commercial truck accidents. The truck driver could be fatigued, distracted, driving carelessly or recklessly, or could be driving while impaired. There could be hazardous road conditions, faulty equipment, or a poor manufacturing design associated with a commercial truck accident.
Trucking companies may not properly maintain their trucks, which can lead to issues that cause an accident, particularly when poor maintenance of tires or brakes is involved. Poorly secured cargo can be a factor in truck accidents, when the cargo slides, or even falls from the truck into traffic. The drivers of passenger vehicles can also be responsible for an accident, particularly if the driver stays in the “blind zone” of the truck driver.”
How is fault determined in a commercial truck accident?
In many cases, as soon as a commercial truck accident occurs, the trucking company will gather forces quickly in an attempt to place blame for the accident on the other driver. This is one of the reasons why those involved in a truck accident should speak to an experienced personal injury attorney as quickly as possible. The primary legal theory regarding liability in a trucking accident is negligence; to establish negligence on the part of the trucking company—and, by extension, the truck driver—it must be shown that the truck driver failed to exercise reasonable care, given the circumstances.
An investigation should be instigated quickly since evidence can disappear following a commercial truck accident. It is important that the maintenance records from the trucking company and the driver’s logbook be examined. If there were witnesses to the accident, the attorney will want to speak to them, as well as to police officers and first responders to the accident. A critical piece of evidence can be the truck’s “black box,” or data recorder, which records data from before, during, and after the accident. These records will likely need to be subpoenaed by your personal injury attorney before the crucial evidence disappears for good.
Who are the parties who could potentially be held liable following a commercial truck accident?
There are a number of potential defendants following an accident involving a large commercial truck. The truck driver may be held liable for the accident if he or she was driving in an unsafe manner, if the mandated number of driving hours was exceeded, leaving the driver fatigued, or if the driver was distracted or impaired. The trucking company could be held liable if it was aware the driver had exceeded his or her allowable hours, if a thorough background check was not done prior to allowing the driver to deliver loads, or if the driver was not properly trained.
If the accident was the result of mechanical failure, the trucking company could be held liable, or, if the trucking company uses a separate maintenance company, that company could share in the liability. If the truck accident was caused by improper loading of cargo, the loading company could be held responsible, or if the accident was the result of a defect on the truck itself, the manufacturer could be held at least partially responsible. It is almost certain that each entity will deny responsibility. Therefore, it is necessary to have the assistance of a personal injury attorney who has a clear understanding of the complexities of trucking accidents is essential.
How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help Determine Fault?
Having an experienced Louisiana personal injury attorney from Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers by your side from beginning to end can make a huge difference in the outcome of your commercial truck accident. It is likely you have extensive medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering; our attorneys will work hard to ensure you receive an equitable settlement for those losses. Contact Lee Hoffoss Injury Lawyers today!