Q: Who determines fault in a truck collision case?
Financial responsibility for your injuries is determined by a judge or jury if your case goes to trial; or through negotiations in the event of a settlement. There are numerous parties involved in a commercial trucking operation, and they're all responsible for the safe operation of the vehicles.
Truck Accident Liability
In a truck accident, parties that may be liable include:
Driver error is the primary cause of most commercial truck accidents. This is often the result of the driver:
- Operating the vehicle while fatigued.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Engaging in aggressive or reckless driving.
- Being distracted and failing to focus on the road.
- Violating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s hours of service regulations.
Trucking companies are responsible for hiring competent drivers, providing training, and using drug and alcohol testing to prevent substance abuse. They may be held liable for an accident if they:
- Hired a driver with a history of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Hired an unqualified or unlicensed driver.
- Failed to properly train the driver.
- Permitted or encouraged the driver to violate hours of service rules.
Truck maintenance crews
Maintenance crews are responsible for maintaining and inspecting vehicles prior to putting them on the road. They are required to repair or replace worn or broken equipment, and keep maintenance and inspection records for the trucks. Failure to perform all of these tasks can expose truck carriers to liability in the event of an accident.
The company loading cargo onto the truck is responsible for ensuring that everything is properly secured. They may be held liable if:
- The truck’s cargo was exposed.
- Cargo was unsecured prior to the accident.
- The truck or tractor-trailer tipped over due to improper weight distribution of the cargo.
- The truck’s contents fell from the vehicle.
Defective parts are a common cause of commercial truck accidents, and the manufacturer can be held liable for any damages. Typical part failures include:
- Brake failures.
- Defective trailer hitches.
- Transmission failures.
- Tire blowouts.
- Steering failures.
When you’ve been hurt in a truck accident, you need an experienced attorney who is prepared to fight for you. To learn more about what the law offices of Steve M. Lee, P.C., can do for you, visit us on Facebook.