Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident Case?

When a truck accident occurs, there are many different individuals or organizations who could be considered liable for the injuries a victim sustains. These include the following:
  • The driver of the truck
  • The owner of the truck
  • The company that leased the truck or trailer form the owner
  • The manufacturer of the truck or various parts of the truck that contributed to the crash
  • The loader or shipper of the truck’s cargo
It is common for these parties to argue and disagree over who must compensate the victim. For instance, the trucking company could claim the accident was due to defective tires, but the tire manufacturer might go on to claim the leasing company should have properly maintained the tires or replaced them earlier.

Can a trucking company avoid liability in a truck accident case?

In the past, trucking companies would often try to escape liability for crashes by putting as much distance between themselves and their drivers as possible. They would hire operators (drivers) as independent contractors and lease their trucks and related equipment, so they did not technically employ any drivers or own any vehicles/vehicle components. For a long time, companies used this business model as a way to avoid being held accountable for negligent truck drivers or malfunctioning equipment that causes an accident, and to save them other costs as well. Now, however, both state and federal laws exist that hold trucking companies accountable for crashes involving any truck with their name displayed on the vehicle, regardless of leasing agreements or the driver’s employment status. These trucking companies also must follow and enforce all state and federal regulations pertaining to their vehicles and drivers. In Tennessee, for example, trucking companies must ensure that their drivers obey mandated limits on hours of service, which include a maximum of 14 consecutive hours on duty (only 11 of which may be spent on the road). To learn more about trucking regulations in Tennessee, talk to with a knowledgeable truck accident attorney. Call Massengill, Caldwell & Coughlin, P.C. today at 423-797-6022 to schedule your free initial consultation, or contact us online.