After a truck accident, figuring out who is liable for your damages is crucial for filing a successful personal injury claim later on. You will obviously want to blame the truck driver for hitting you or otherwise causing your crash. But did you know that many other parties could be partially liable for your trucking accident, including but not limited to the parent trucking company, mechanics, and load crews?
How Other Parties Become Liable for a Truck Crash
A truck driver is responsible for their actions behind the wheel, just like any other motorist on the road. However, truck drivers are rarely working for themselves or completing a personal errand when they cause a truck accident. Instead, they are acting as a representative or a worker for a parent company. With this involvement, liability can become clouded and split among one of several parties.
Parties other than the truck driver that could be liable for your crash include:
- Parent trucking company: At the root of many trucking accidents, there is trucker exhaustion. Truck drivers are often scheduled completely unreasonable hours by their parent companies, either as direct employees or as contracted drivers. Trucking companies need to be aware of the dangers they create by demanding too many hours out of a single trucker, and they should be held accountable when their unreasonable demands contribute to a crash. For example, did you know that a truck driver can be scheduled for 14 hours of service in a day?
- Truck mechanic: Truckers who either rent or own their tractor are rarely the same people who service them. When a commercial truck needs to be inspected and tuned-up, which is at least once a year according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSA), a third-party mechanic is usually the one to do it. Any failure to adequately replace, repair, or install parts as needed can put some liability on that mechanic or their shop.
- Load crew: Whenever a big rig picks up or drops off cargo, a load crew will handle that task. Many truck drivers are barred from assisting load crews entirely, and so they have to trust that the load crews are doing their job well. If the cargo is misbalanced or poorly loaded, it could come loose on the highway, tip the truck, cause brake failure, and so forth. The liability in this circumstance could partially belong to the load crew and their employer for doing an unsafe, inadequate job. For example, a commercial truck driver who delivers freight to a retail store might not be employed by that retail company, but the load crew that adds or removes cargo is.
- Truck part manufacturer: Don’t forget that truck part defects can be just as problematic and difficult to predict as auto part defects. A trucker and their parent company might be careful to get routine maintenance to their vehicles, but a manufacturer’s defect can still spring up without warning, resulting in a serious crash. In such a situation, the part manufacturer could be deemed the party most liable for your accident.
How Can You Find Out Who is Liable?
As can be seen, the odds of there being more than just the truck driver behind the liability of your trucking accident are high. Does that mean you need to be able to dive into the details of your truck wreck and conduct interviews with multiple parties to find out who is liable? Does it mean you shouldn’t consider filing a truck accident claim simply because of its complexity?
Absolutely not. The key to making certain your truck accident claim is created effectively and filed against the correct parties is working with an experienced truck accident lawyer. Oftentimes, your attorney will already have a list of usual suspects they may need to contact for more information, allowing them to pinpoint liability much easier than you can. They may also opt to file a lawsuit against the parent trucking company and await any responses that argue that liability belongs elsewhere, such as a mechanic shop that is revealed to your lawyer at that point.
The underlying idea is that you should be allowed to rest after a trucking accident. All of the legwork for your injury claim should be entrusted to a personal injury attorney.