Who is Liable in a Commercial Trucking Accident?
July 13th, 2023
A collision with a commercial truck can alter the course of your life and livelihood. Due to the size and weight of a big rig, semi, or tractor-trailer, a crash can result in catastrophic injuries to the occupants of vehicles involved. There are various factors that can lead to truck accidents and determining liability in these matters can be complex. In some cases, more than one party may be liable for a commercial truck accident — and it is important for a victim to ensure the responsible parties are held accountable for their negligence by filing a personal injury action.
Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident
In order to recover compensation for your truck accident-related injuries, you must show that someone’s negligence caused them. Specifically, you will need to establish that another party breached the duty of care owed to others on the road — and that violation caused your injuries. While truck drivers owe the same reasonable duty of care as other motor vehicle operators, the Federal Motorist Carrier Safety Administration imposes a duty to exercise “extreme caution” on truck drivers when they are operating their vehicles in hazardous weather conditions.
There are many different types of evidence that can be used to prove negligence in a truck accident case. This can include black box data, electronic logging device data, repair records, maintenance logs, inspection documents, weight tickets, and eyewitness accounts. Additionally, cell phone records, dashcam footage, and photos of the accident scene may all be useful in demonstrating truck accident liability.
Possible Liable Parties After a Truck Accident
Although the truck driver is often the party many people might initially blame in the event of a commercial truck accident, these types of crashes are legally and factually complicated. In fact, there are various ways truck accident liability can arise and there may be multiple parties who might be held liable. Possible liable parties after a truck accident can include the following:
- Truck driver — Careless or reckless driving can be a major cause of commercial trucking accidents. If a truck driver operated the vehicle while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, was speeding, or exceeded the number of hours they were legally permitted to drive, they may be found negligent.
- Trucking company — There are many ways a trucking company may incur liability in the event of a crash. If a company implemented policies that prioritized profits over safety, they may at fault for a collision. Truck accident liability may be incurred due to failure to hire qualified drivers, perform routine maintenance, provide proper training to drivers, and inspect vehicles before use.
- Truck owner — Sometimes, a driver or trucking company may not own the vehicle. If the truck is owned by another party who failed to take measures to ensure the vehicle’s safety, they may be held accountable in a truck accident lawsuit.
- Cargo company — A cargo company may be responsible if the truck accident was caused by overloading or materials escaping from the truck due to improper loading.
- Truck parts manufacturer — A vehicle or parts manufacturer may be at fault for an accident if the component that failed and caused the accident was produced or designed with a defect. Common examples where a manufacturer may be liable can include accidents caused by faulty brakes, steering wheels, and other truck parts.
- Maintenance company — The work performed by a truck maintenance company is vital to the safe operation of the vehicle. If a truck maintenance company fails to make repairs or is careless in their maintenance, it should be held liable if such factors caused the crash.
- Municipality — A municipality has a responsibility to ensure the roadways within its jurisdiction are maintained in a safe condition. In some situations, a municipality may incur truck accident liability if its failure to make repairs or faulty design led to the collision.
Determining who should be held accountable for a commercial truck accident often requires an in-depth investigation. In cases where more than one party is responsible for the accident, and the victim is free from fault, a court will apply the doctrine of joint and several liability. This can ensure a victim obtains full compensation if one party does not have enough insurance coverage to cover the cost of all damages.
Recoverable Damages After a Truck Accident
A truck accident can often result in devastating injuries that may require extensive medical care — and in some cases, lifelong treatment. You might also lose a significant amount of time from work or be unable to work at all. Importantly, recoverable damages in a personal injury action for a truck accident can include unreimbursed medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs related to your treatment, and lost wages. You may also be entitled to a monetary award for your future medical expenses and future loss of earnings.
In addition to recovering your economic losses by filing a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party, you may also be able to recover your non-economic damages. This category of damages compensates for the physical pain, mental suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life you experienced in connection with your truck accident-related injuries. Due to the severity of the injuries that can be sustained in a truck accident, the non-economic damages awarded in such cases are often substantial.
Contact an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney
If you were injured in a trucking accident, it is essential to have a knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side who can identify the liable parties and ensure they are held accountable for their negligence. The Bellingham personal injury attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide experienced representation to truck accident victims throughout Washington State and work relentlessly in every case to obtain the best possible outcome. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.