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Who's Liable for a Large Truck Accident?

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), in 2019, large trucks were involved in over 5,000 fatal and 118,000 injury-causing accidents. Sadly, the victims of these collisions are often those in passenger cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that this is due to the relative size of big rigs to smaller vehicles. An 18-wheeler can weigh almost 30 times more than passenger cars and are much taller.

Because of the significant damage large trucks can cause, it's crucial that anyone harmed in an accident involving one seek just compensation to cover losses and expenses. However, pursuing compensation after a big rig accident is often more complicated than doing so following a crash involving passenger vehicles, that's because many more people or entities may have contributed to the factors that caused the large truck collision.

So who does the victim file a personal injury claim against, and how do they ensure they are holding the proper person or entity responsible for their accident? That depends on the cause of the accident.

Common Violations of Federal Regulations

Various federal transportation regulations are in place to ensure safety when large trucks are on the road. These regulations establish standards concerning how trucks are operated, loaded, and maintained. Although the laws exist, that does not mean that trucking companies, drivers, cargo loaders, and others bound by them actually adhere to them. Unfortunately, when someone violates federal trucking regulations, they put the safety and lives of others at risk.

Some of the most common violations reported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) include, but are not limited to:

  • Parts and Accessories Violations
    • Tire tread depth below standard
    • Inoperative turn signal
    • Brake hose chaffing or kinking
  • Vehicle Maintenance Violations
    • Oil leaks
    • Problems with brakes
    • Poorly maintained parts
  • Driver Qualification Violations
    • Invalid operator's license
    • Driving while under disqualification
  • Driver Training Violations
    • Operating without a CDL
    • Improper training
    • Improper endorsements on CDL
  • Driving Violations
    • Speeding
    • Improper turns
    • Distracted driving
    • Failing to complete pre-trip inspection
    • Failing to take proper brakes
    • Driving more than 14 hours at a stretch
  • Controlled Substances and Alcohol Violations
    • Use of drugs and/or alcohol

Any of the violations listed above could factor into the cause of a trucking accident.

Possible Liable Parties

As noted earlier, liability for a big rig accident depends on the cause. The list of violations in the previous section alludes to the possible responsible party or parties (several factors can contribute to a large truck accident).

The parties that may be liable for a commercial truck collision include:

  • The truck driver: A truck driver's negligent behavior, such as texting while driving or consuming drugs and/or alcohol before getting behind the wheel, may have caused the accident.
  • The trucking company: A trucking company may be liable if it put untrained or unsupervised drivers on the road, made its drivers work longer hours than allowable, cut corners by forgoing inspections, or engaged in any other unlawful conduct.
  • The cargo loader: The cargo loading company may be liable if it was negligent when putting the cargo on the truck and the improperly loaded items shifted and caused an accident.
  • The parts manufacturer: If there was a defect in the design or manufacture of the truck's parts or components, the company that supplied them may be accountable for the collision.

How to Determine Liability

Determining liability for a truck accident requires a thorough investigation. This may involve interviewing witnesses, reviewing reports and logs, examining the site of the crash, and employing the services of an accident reconstruction specialist. A detailed examination and analysis may reveal what caused the collision and, therefore, who can be held responsible.

If you were involved in an accident with a large truck, seeking fair compensation requires filing a claim against all liable parties. At The Law Office of Gregory C. Goline, our Denton attorneys will put in the time and effort necessary to determine the cause and person responsible for your collision.

Schedule a complimentary consultation with us by calling (940) 400-0475 or submitting an online contact form today.