Q: If an unstable truck overturns on my car, who’s to blame?
The results can be devastating when cars and trucks collide.
If you have been hurt in such a crash, you’re facing an uphill battle for your health. Your passage will include impossibly high medical bills. You’re also likely to face long, frustrating battles with insurance companies to determine fault and compensation.
To receive the settlement you need to pay for your loss, you must prove to the insurance company that someone else was responsible for the crash. It will be essential to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for your injuries. In the case of a truck accident, proving this liability can not only be difficult but also complicated.
Many people assume that the truck driver and trucking company are the only parties that can be held liable for damages in an accident, but there is an often unnoticed third party that can be responsible for your injuries—the shipper.
Where Liability Falls
When a truck accident occurs because of erratic driving, poor maintenance, or defective vehicle parts, the shipper can’t be held responsible. However, if a driver loses control of his rig due to an imbalance of cargo or a trailer tips because one side was heavier than the other, the shipper can be blamed.
Typically, the shipper—perhaps a popular merchandise store like Target or online store like Amazon—is responsible for loading the trailer and securing the freight. The driver and truck company are generally not involved during this stage. Therefore, any negligence pertaining to the loading of the cargo cannot be associated with the driver or truck company. Afterward, if the weight imbalance of the load or the unsecured jostling of the cargo cause the driver to lose control of the truck, the shipper may be at fault. However, it’s important to note that erratic driving on behalf of the driver may also contribute to load instability and cause otherwise secure loads to come loose.
Three specific situations where the shipper’s negligence can be found accountable for a truck accident include when:
- The shipper knowingly hired a trucking company that had safety deficiencies. This occurs when a shipper had previous knowledge that a company or driver routinely ignored safety protocols—but despite these failings willfully hired the company to transport his goods. Since the shipper was aware of the risks and negligently chose to ignore them, he can be held accountable for the results.
- The shipper loaded the truck improperly. This occurs when a shipper fails to follow the cargo loading safety rules of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Because the shipper is required to follow specific weight and distribution methods, when he fails to do so, he willingly places others at risk. Therefore, if the load balance results in an accident, his actions will constitute negligent behavior.
- The shipper allowed the trailer to depart without checking it. This happens when a shipper disregards safety protocol and lets a driver pull away from the loading zone without double-checking that the cargo is properly secured. Since it is the shipper’s responsibility to guarantee load safety, if he doesn’t confirm the load’s security, he’s responsible for any problems that may occur during transit.
Locking Down Your Case
To pursue a successful liability claim, you must show who acted negligently—and that means who acted without the reasonable care another person would have taken under the same circumstances.
Shippers are regulated to maintain high safety standards when it comes to loading trucks. When a shipper’s standard of care is insufficient, and that insufficiency directly leads to an accident, he can be held accountable for any damages that result. Therefore, in addition to including negligence on behalf of the driver and truck company in your case, you may be eligible to hold the truck’s shippers accountable for your injuries as well.
Injury lawsuits involving trucks can be very complex, and your priority should lie in making a full recovery. However, when you’re ready to un-shoulder the burden of insurance claims and medical bills, reach out to us today via our live chat feature. We’ll schedule a complimentary review to speak with experienced accident attorney, Steven M. Lee. His decades worth of experience will help him teach you more about your case options and how to proceed to pursue a successful claim. Contact us now to secure your FREE, no-obligation consultation.