Identifying Parties That Could be Liable in a Trucking Accident
Trucking accidents can be devastating, resulting in severe injuries and property damage, particularly when tractor trailers and other big rigs collide with smaller passenger vehicles. Various parties may share in responsibility for the accident and could be answerable for paying damages. Determining potential liability for a crash is crucial to getting victims the compensation they deserve for the harm they have suffered.
Parties that could be at fault for a trucking accident include the following:
- Trucking company — The company that owned, commissioned and/or operated the truck can be liable for several reasons. If the driver was an employee, the company is vicariously liable for his or her conduct. The company might also be held directly liable for negligently hiring an unqualified driver, for failing to properly inspect and maintain the vehicle and for pressuring the driver to meet unrealistic deadlines that caused them to flout highway safety regulations.
- Truck driver — The driver may be held directly liable for his or her own careless or reckless conduct. Instances of breaking traffic laws, distracted driving, intoxication, drug impairment or operating an unsafe vehicle can make the driver accountable for damages. Factors such as long driving hours, drowsiness and health conditions can also be causes of an accident.
- Truck owner — If a separate individual or entity owned the vehicle, they may be liable for any negligence related to the truck’s maintenance and upkeep. Federal regulations govern the inspection and maintenance of commercial trucks, and failure to comply with such can result in the truck’s owner being held responsible for damages.
- Shipper or cargo loader — Accidents may also occur due to cargo being loaded or secured improperly. The shipper or other company that loads the truck can be held liable for their workers’ negligence.
- Manufacturer or maintenance provider — If an accident occurs due to a defective truck part, the manufacturer could be held responsible. Liability may also lie with a mechanic who installed the part or with any other maintenance provider whose negligence may have been a contributing cause of the crash.
If you were the driver of the other vehicle in a collision with a truck, you may be held partially to blame, but you still may be entitled to compensation. Georgia follows a rule of modified comparative negligence, which means that as long as you were less than 50 percent responsible for causing the crash, you can recover your actual damages, although they will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
An experienced truck accident lawyer can thoroughly investigate the incident, gather the evidence needed to establish each party’s share of liability and aggressively pursue claims for victim compensation.