Who’s Liable in a Truck Accident?

While multiple at-fault parties could exist in a typical car accident, truck accidents tend to be more complex. Trucks must be manufactured, loaded, and inspected before hitting the road, and negligence can occur at any part of this process if federal regulations aren’t followed. 

Many Parties Could Be at Fault for Your Accident

Any of the following parties could be at fault:

Truck Drivers

Truck drivers must operate 80,000-pound big rigs for long periods of time, some of which are loaded with hazardous materials. Inexperienced or improperly trained drivers might not understand how much distance they need to stop their trucks, or they might travel too fast on turns and cause a rollover accident.

Drivers should also be aware of the cargo they’re hauling. Tanker truck drivers must avoid sudden turns at high speeds to prevent sloshing—the back-and-forth motion of liquid cargo. Sloshing could result in a rollover accident, resulting in hazardous materials spilling onto the highway. Driving distracted, fatigued, or even drunk are also examples of truck driver negligence.

The Trucking Company

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lays out strict guidelines all trucking companies must follow to ensure everyone’s safety. For example, drivers have specific hours of service requirements that employers must enforce to lower the risk of a fatigued driving accident. Sometimes, companies put profits over safety and pressure drivers to work longer than they should.

Other regulations outlined by the FMCSA include the following:

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) requirement
  • Truck inspections and maintenance
  • Hazardous materials identification
  • Weight and length requirements for trucks
  • Cargo securement requirements

Equipment Manufacturers & Inspectors

Expert witnesses like accident reconstructionists might find that a defective truck part caused the crash. In that case, the company that manufactured the part could be liable for any damages. However, the FMCSA states that trucking companies and inspectors should always ensure that parts and accessories are in safe and proper condition.

So, if the employer receives a truck that later becomes defective, it’s the inspector’s job to report the defect and the company’s job to ensure the part gets replaced. If inspectors or the employer knowingly put a defective truck on the road, they could be found negligent.

Cargo Loaders

Trucks carry a variety of cargo. You might see them hauling logs, concrete piping, heavy machinery, or gravel. All of which have their own cargo securement requirements outlined by the FMCSA. The general rule is that cargo must be firmly immobilized or secured by structures of adequate strength.

If loaders don’t do their job, cargo could break loose on a crowded highway, putting everyone in the surrounding area at risk of severe injury or death.

You Must Establish Negligence to Prove Fault

To prove fault in your truck accident case, you must establish the four elements of negligence:

  • Duty of Care – The trucking company, driver, or other parties owed you a duty of care
  • Breach of Duty – The at-fault party’s action breached this duty
  • Causation – This breach of duty was the direct cause of your accident
  • Damages – Your accident resulted in monetary and non-monetary damages

The at-fault party could be found negligent for several reasons, depending on how the accident happened. For example, the trucking company owes you a duty of care to ensure all trucks on the road are safe and free of defective products.

Failing to report a defective part and forcing a truck on the road breaches this duty of care. Following this breach, the faulty part malfunctions, causing your accident. As a result of your accident, you’re left with medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses that require compensation.

What Evidence Could Help Prove Fault?

You shouldn’t have to pay the price for someone else’s negligence. Gathering as much evidence as possible to strengthen your claim is crucial.

This evidence might include the following:

  • Expert Witnesses – An accident reconstructionist could recreate your accident to determine the root cause, whether a defective part or driver negligence.
  • Black Box Data – A truck’s black box tells you how fast the driver was traveling at the time of the accident, their driving time, and other valuable information. Truck companies try to destroy this data, so you must obtain it quickly.
  • Trucking Logs – The truck’s logbook could tell whether the employer broke hours-of-service regulations.
  • Photos & Videos – Images of the scene and your injuries only improve your chance of recovering compensation.
  • Witness Testimony – Other drivers and bystanders might have seen the driver sleeping before the accident or witnessed cargo come loose. Gather their contact information in case their testimony is needed.

Find Who’s Liable. Call Us Today to Make it Wright.

Attorney Kyle Wright of Kademenos, Wisehart, Hines, Dolyk & Wright Co. LPA knows what it takes to prove liability in your truck accident case. He has significant experience handling truck accident claims throughout Ohio and continues to broaden his knowledge by attending the best truck accident seminars in the country.

No matter the accident’s severity, we’re determined to Make it Wright. Contact us today by calling 419-625-7770 for a free consultation.