Based on the details of the crash, the truck driver or the trucking company, or both the driver and the company, may be held accountable for a truck accident. Because a number of factors will have to be considered, you may want to enlist help from a personal injury lawyer to help establish liability in your truck accident case.
In What Circumstances Is a Truck Driver Responsible for a Truck Accident?
If a truck driver gets involved in an accident while within their scope of employment, they are usually not liable for any damages. Often, financial responsibility is placed on the trucking company due to vicarious liability. This term refers to the employer’s responsibility for the actions of their employees. Thus, the driver’s employer fulfills the role of compensating truck accident victims.
However, there are circumstances under which a truck driver may be held financially responsible for damages caused by a crash. Some of them are:
- If the driver is an independent contractor (then they must have their own insurance since he/she is not an employee of the firm)
- If the driver is the truck owner (here, the driver and trucking company are technically the same entity)
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In What Circumstances Is the Trucking Company Responsible for the Crash?
Trucking companies are required to adhere to state and federal legislation in regards to commercial vehicle maintenance, hiring personnel, training, and truck operation. When companies disregard the legislation, they are likely to be held responsible if one of their employees gets involved in a truck accident.
Some of the reasons that make a trucking company responsible for a crash include:
Substandard Maintenance of Trucks
Trucking companies must ensure that their trucks are well-maintained and safe for road use, per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The organization’s guidelines state that the trucking company must conduct recurrent inspections of its commercial vehicles.
If a company has poor maintenance regulations, they endanger their drivers’ and other road users’ lives. A crash may happen due to the truck’s mechanical failure. If it is established that the defect could have been evaded through adequate maintenance, the company will be financially liable for damages linked to the accident.
Breaching Hours of Service Regulations
The FMCSA has put in place laws regarding the number of hours the driver can operate a truck. The Hours of Service guidelines include daily time restrictions and compulsory breaks that drivers must take before they go on with the journey. Trucking companies have the responsibility of implementing these regulations.
The FMCSA has required companies to put in place electronic logbooks to help enforce compliance with guidelines regarding hours of service. However, some companies bypass the electronic logbook mandate.
These companies end up compelling their drivers to work for more than the legally required hours. They place tired truck drivers on the road, leading to accidents. Companies that compel or support drivers to breach hours of service laws can be held responsible for a truck accident.
Negligent Hiring Processes
Trucking companies must hire truck drivers that are sufficiently qualified to drive their particular trucks.
A company leaves itself vulnerable to liability if they:
- Hire a driver that does not have a commercial driver’s license
- Do not carry out proper pre-employment screening
- Hire someone who they know has a bad driving record
Problems With the Cargo
Every truck has weight regulations that it must observe. Plus, cargo must be correctly fastened such that it does not move during the journey.
There are workers whose job is to load the cargo. If the company does not adequately train them on how to load and fasten cargo, they may be liable.
Damages You Can Pursue from the Other Party in a Truck Accident Case
If you were injured in a truck accident, you may be able to recover these damages from the responsible party:
- Past and upcoming medical care costs
- Lost income and benefits
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage expenses
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
Wrongful death awards may be available to those who have lost their loved one to their truck accident injuries.
Reach Out to Our Firm for Help in Determining Liability for Damages
Don’t try to establish liability and work out a case on your own when you should be recovering from your injuries. A truck accident lawyer at our firm will gather evidence to determine who is liable for your damages.
Get in touch with Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury Lawyers today. Our team will offer you a free consultation when you contact us.