Truck accidents are common on the nation’s highways — but their capacity for devastation far outstrips that of an accident involving two ordinary-sized vehicles.
One of the hardest things to sort out in any truck accident is liability. Even when the trucker is clearly at fault for the accident, the question of actual liability doesn’t end there because other parties may share some of the responsibility.
For example, the truck driver may clearly be at fault for making a bad decision while driving — he or she may have cut into traffic too quickly, changed lanes without warning or forgotten to give the truck enough room to make a safe turn.
However, the truck driver’s employer may also be subject to vicarious liability for the his or her employee’s actions. Employers are expected to do their homework before hiring someone who could potentially endanger the lives of others. When they don’t, they can be found negligent for hiring a driver with a history of bad decisions, alcoholism, drug addiction or medical issues that led to the accident.
If a major corporation controls the trucking company’s schedule, it could also be partially liable. Corporations have been found guilty of pushing their delivery drivers to go without adequate rest and encouraging them to falsify logs so that they seem to be in compliance with safety laws.
There are additional entities that may also be partially responsible for a truck accident. A lot of accidents are caused by mechanical failures. If the trucks were serviced by a company that failed to catch an impending issue with the truck’s brakes, for example, that opens the door to a lawsuit against the maintenance company. Similarly, if a mechanical defect in some part of the truck led to the accident, whether it was a faulty tire or a defective anti-lock brake system, that opens the possibility of a lawsuit against the manufacturer or distributor of the defective piece.
Because the issue of liability is so complex — and the need for compensation is often great in order to provide for the future expenses of the victims involved — an attorney’s advice is invaluable. Don’t assume that the liability for the accident is limited to the driver of the truck alone until you’ve fully discussed the situation with an attorney. For more information on how our firm can help you, please visit our page.