Who Can I Hold Liable for a Truck Accident?
Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Sep 28, 2018 in Truck Accidents
One of the most difficult aspects of a truck accident claim is figuring out which party is actually responsible for the crash. Often, there are several parties involved in a truck accident, making it difficult to determine which one is liable for compensating the victims.
However, a reputable truck accident lawyer in New Haven will know how to identify which party is at fault for the crash. An attorney will help you build a case against the at-fault party to help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
At D’Amico & Pettinicchi, we are committed to helping victims recover the compensation they need after being injured in an accident. Below, we discuss several aspects we consider while determining fault in a truck accident claim. To learn more, contact us to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.
Causes of Truck Accidents
To determine which party may be liable for your truck accident, our attorneys are prepared to do a thorough investigation of the crash to determine what caused it.
Some of the most common causes of truck accidents are:
- Driver error – Truck drivers may cause an accident by making wide turns, changing lanes in an unsafe manner, failing to keep a proper lookout or overcorrecting an error.
- Impaired driving – Some accidents occur because the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Federal trucking regulations require truck drivers to pass drug screening tests before being employed and after an accident.
- Speeding – Truck drivers are often required to meet unrealistic deadlines. To make up for lost time, truck drivers often travel faster than the posted speed limit, increasing the risk of an accident.
- Distracted driving – When driving for long distances, truck drivers might turn to their cellphones, panels in their vehicle or other sources for entertainment. However, distracted driving takes their attention away from the roadway and increases the risk of an accident.
- Driver fatigue – Federal regulations limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive before taking a break. These rules exist to prevent truck drivers from driving while fatigued. However, they may still get tired and break the rules.
- Improperly loaded cargo – Cargo that is not properly loaded can fall out of the vehicle or cause the truck to tip over.
All too often, truck accidents are caused by the truck drivers’ negligence. This occurs when a truck driver makes an error while behind the wheel, typically by engaging in distracted driving, drug or alcohol impairment, or other careless actions.
However, many truck accidents occur due to truck drivers violating the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Hours of Service regulations. This is a federal law limiting the number of hours a truck driver can operate a commercial vehicle within a single shift. Truck drivers must follow these rules, or else they risk being held liable for any resulting accident.
Nevertheless, truck drivers often violate the Hours of Service regulation and other rules regarding driver safety. Our attorneys will thoroughly investigate the driver involved in your accident to determine if he or she is at fault. This includes reviewing the driver’s hours log, obtaining results from drug or alcohol tests, or examining data taken from the truck’s “black box” event recorder.
In some situations, the trucking company that employs a driver may be liable for his or her actions. The trucking industry is heavily regulated by the FMCSA, which imposes several regulations trucking companies must follow regarding their drivers and vehicles.
For example, driver must undergo a thorough background check before being hired by a trucking company. Additionally, the trucking company must properly train its drivers and ensure they are following the FMCSA’s drug and alcohol rules.
However, trucking companies often try to avoid liability in a truck accident by distancing themselves from the driver or vehicle involved. For example, a trucking company may claim the truck driver is an independent contractor and not an employee. Likewise, a trucking company may claim it leases its vehicle from a third-party vendor, and that it is not responsible for a mechanical error that caused a crash.
Our attorneys will carefully review the driver and vehicle involved in your crash to find a connection with the trucking company. This includes examining the driver’s qualifications and terms of employment to find out if he or she is officially employed by the trucking company.
A separate cargo company may be responsible for loading the truck’s cargo and contents. Improperly loaded cargo can shift during travel.
Unsecured cargo may fall off a truck while driving in traffic and cause an accident. If you believe this was the cause of your truck accident, you may be able to hold the cargo company liable for your injuries.
Defective vehicle parts and mechanical failures are one of the most common causes of truck accidents. However, many mechanical failures that cause truck accidents result from neglecting to inspect or maintain the vehicle. This includes:
- Brake failure
- Defective steering
- Transmission failure
- Broken or defective vehicle lights
- Blown out or worn tires
- Improper trailer attachment
Companies that manufacture commercial trucks have a duty to ensure that these products are safe. If a truck manufacturer releases an improperly manufactured truck into the stream of commerce, it can be held liable.
Additionally, trucking companies are required by the FMCSA to regularly maintain the vehicles they own. This includes ensuring the truck’s brakes are up to the FMCSA’s regulations and inspecting vehicles before and after a long-distance haul.
Contact a Lawyer
Truck accident claims can be difficult to handle, especially if you are not familiar with the parties involved in a commercial trucking operation.
To learn more about your legal options after a truck accident, contact D’Amico & Pettinicchi’s New Haven personal injury attorneys to schedule a free, no obligation consultation. We provide all of our services on a contingency fee basis and will represent your claim at no upfront cost. We will only charge you if we help you recover compensation.
Call (866) 848-7077 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.