who is liable in a truck accident

Who is Liable in a Truck Accident — You, the Driver, or the Trucking Company?

We share the road with massive trucks and 18-wheelers every day, so you know an accident with one can happen fast. And if you thought figuring out fault with regular cars can be tricky, commercial trucks take it to a whole new level.

Between the driver, the company, and even the truck manufacturer, liability gets complicated.

In this post, our truck accident lawyers will give you a clear breakdown of who is likely to be held responsible in common truck crash scenarios. You’ll understand when the truck driver, the carrier company, or even you yourself could share some degree of fault.

Is the Truck Driver Liable?

Investigations start by scrutinizing the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver’s pre-crash actions. Did driver behaviors like distraction, impairment, or logbook cheating precipitate the collision? These behaviors are the beginning of finding out who is responsible for a truck accident.

Surprisingly, many long-haul truckers have minimal skill training. Truck drivers not only have to be licensed in the State of West Virginia and hold a commercial driver’s license, but they must also know and follow all federal laws.

The truck driver is ultimately the person responsible for a truck, even though other parties may be held liable as well.

Therefore, our attorneys dig into the driver’s background, looking for safety records, expired medical cards, missing endorsements, or manipulated logbooks. These pieces of evidence aid in showing the truck driver’s responsibility and help to strengthen injury claims.

Evaluating Driver Fatigue

Truck drivers who don’t follow “hours of service” rules often cause accidents by getting too tired. These rules limit how long drivers can be on duty without breaks or sleep. Exhausted drivers are slow to react, make poor choices, and even briefly fall asleep at the wheel for a few seconds.

Skilled lawyers use truck data like GPS records and fuel receipts to show if a driver broke the rules before crashing. For example, the records may reveal they drove three hours past the legal limit without resting. This rule-breaking proves negligence and helps victims recover damages.

Is the Trucking Company Liable?

Trucking companies can also share blame – not just individual drivers. As employers, trucking companies must properly choose, train and monitor their drivers. If companies cut corners on safety to save money, they could be liable, too.

For example, a trucking company might fail to do random drug tests or schedule too many deliveries for the time allowed. They might hire drivers with bad driving records or make them rush excessively.

Even though the company isn’t driving, their bad safety policies could leave them legally responsible. Good lawyers dig into the trucking company’s past conduct for negligence. This helps victims get fair compensation from all parties, not just the truck driver.

Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection Lapses

Trucking corporations must actively confirm all owned vehicles meet federal equipment standards and undergo timely repairs. Neglecting brake changes, bald tire swaps, or ignoring dangerous deficiencies like loose steering columns demonstrates negligence.

In addition to maintaining the trucks, the trucking companies must also be able to produce accurate records that show truck maintenance. Our lawyers secure vehicle maintenance records and mechanic testimony to reveal systematic maintenance program flaws after crashes.

Analyzing Dispatch Orders, Routes, and Schedules

Trucking companies can also force drivers into dangerous situations. For example, they may send trucks along steep mountain roads unfit for big rigs. Or they may demand too tight delivery deadlines that require speeding.

Improperly loaded cargo that shifts weight dangerously could also be their fault. If a crash results from the company directing unsafe truck operations like these, they share liability.

Skillful attorneys collect transmitted dispatch orders, telematics data, and driver accounts to highlight these egregious business decisions that put exhausted operators in harm’s way.

Is the Car Driver At-Fault?

Even when a large truck causes damage and injuries, the regular passenger vehicle driver can share partial or even full liability in some cases.

As the car driver, you could be deemed at fault if you:

  • Were under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Were distracted by your phone or by passengers
  • Made an unsafe lane change or turn in front of the truck
  • Sped excessively or ignored traffic signals
  • Failed to brake and collided with the back of the truck

Essentially, if police determine you were driving recklessly, not paying attention, or breaking traffic laws, you won’t be able to pursue injury or vehicle damage claims against the truck party.

The liability would fall completely on your shoulders for causing the crash. That’s why practicing attentive, lawful driving is so important whenever large trucks with limited visibility surround you.

Other Potentially Liable Parties

While drivers and carriers constitute obvious initial targets when assigning accident fault, they merely scratch the surface of potential accountability.

Other entities, owners, manufacturers, or brokers often contribute to crashes despite indirect associations.

Don’t Shoulder Complete Burden for Truck Crashes Alone

If you were injured in a truck crash, you need strong legal help on your side. Our truck accident lawyers at Miley Legal have years of experience specifically handling truck accident cases. We know how to navigate the legal and insurance claims process.

Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your crash, build your case, and fight to demonstrate negligence against any liable parties – whether that’s the truck driver, carrier company, parts manufacturer, or others.

Don’t shoulder the burden alone of maximizing the compensation you may deserve for your injuries, lost wages, vehicle damage, and other losses. Contact Miley Legal for a free consultation. Our entire legal team is dedicated to helping accident victims like you. With us as your fierce advocates, you can focus on healing while we handle the legal battle. Reach out today.

Author Bio

Tim Miley is the Founder of Miley Legal Accident Injury Lawyers, a West Virginia personal injury law firm he formed in 2006. With more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of personal injury cases, including car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, brain injuries, wrongful death, and other personal injury matters.

Tim received his Juris Doctor from Duquesne University and is a member of the West Virginia State Bar and the Harrison County Bar Association. He has helped his clients win more than $10 million in personal injury verdicts and settlements and has further served the people of West Virginia by filling legislative roles in the state’s government since 2004.

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