Who Besides the Driver May Be at Fault for a Truck Accident?
Truck accidents are among the most serious personal injury accidents. Because tractor-trailers and semi-trucks are so large and heavy, catastrophic injuries can result to occupants of other vehicles involved in crashes. If you or a family member has been hurt in a truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses. However, litigation of truck accident claims can be quite complex, as there are often several potentially liable parties.
The truck driver is often the main focus of fault after a truck accident. There are many ways a driver might cause a serious accident, including excessive speed, reckless driving, alcohol or drug impairment and distractions while behind the wheel. Fatigue can also play a role in truck accidents, especially when drivers violate federal and state laws requiring a certain amount of rest between stretches of driving.
Besides the driver, there may be other liable parties, such as:
- Trucking companies — The company that owns or leases the truck may share responsibility for a truck accident. If the driver is an employee, the company may be sued under the legal doctrine that holds employers liable for the harm caused by their workers. Even if the driver was an independent contractor, the company may shoulder blame for its own misconduct. This includes imposing delivery schedules that put drivers under pressure to violate hours-of-service rules. Trucking companies may also be liable for failing to make sure drivers are qualified and trained and for failing to conduct regular drug and alcohol testing. In addition, trucking companies may be liable for poor maintenance of their fleet, since faulty tires, worn brakes and other malfunctioning components can cause trucks to be unsafe on the roads.
- Shippers and loaders — Overloading or improperly loading a tractor-trailer or semi-truck can cause an imbalance that in turn leads to a rollover, jackknife accident or other type of crash. The shipper of the cargo, along with its employee or contractor that did the actual loading, are potentially liable.
- Truck and parts manufacturers — In some cases, accidents are caused in part by defective parts and components in a truck, such as brakes, steering, transmission and electrical systems. The truck itself also may be defectively designed. In these cases, it may be possible for an accident victim to recover damages in a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the truck or part.
- Other drivers — In multivehicle accidents, other drivers may share in the fault, such as when a car veers into a truck’s path in a way that make it impossible for the truck to avoid a collision.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries and other losses in a truck accident, you deserve full and fair compensation. The experienced truck accident lawyers at Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. in Bristol, Tennessee are here to help. Call us at 423-797-6022 or contact us online to schedule your free introductory consultation.