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Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

Who Can Be Sued in a Truck Accident Case?

November 18, 2020

One of the major differences between trucks accidents and other types of vehicle collisions is the number of parties that may be involved. Determining liability in these cases often involves investigating the trucking company, vehicle and auto parts manufacturers, and others.

In order to recover the full compensation you deserve, it is important to work with a truck accident lawyer who can identify all of the at-fault parties in your case. The Karl Truman Law Office has extensive experience handling complex truck accident claims throughout Kentucky, and we are committed to taking action against all of those responsible.

For a free case evaluation, please call our truck accident lawyers at (502) 222-2222 today. The Karl Truman Law Office serves clients in Louisville and other areas of Kentucky.

Liability in Truck Accident Claims

The parties that may be included in your truck accident claim will depend on whose negligence caused or contributed to the accident. In a car accident, fault usually lies with one or both of the drivers. The question of liability in a truck accident claim, however, is often far more complicated.

Your lawyer will investigate the following parties in building your claim:

The Truck Driver

The first place to look in any motor vehicle accident claim is the driver of the other vehicle. Although they are specially trained and licensed to handle big rigs, truck drivers can make the same errors as the drivers of other vehicles:

Other factors may also play a role in truck driver negligence. For example, when truck accidents are caused by driver fatigue, the driver will generally be found responsible for the crash. However, the cause of the fatigue may be the trucking company’s insistence on meeting an unreasonable deadline, which effectively forces the driver to violate the federally mandated hours of service for commercial drivers.

In this type of example, your truck accident lawyer will investigate the driver’s employer to determine how the company’s negligence contributed to the collision.

The Trucking Company

Trucking companies are responsible for hiring qualified drivers, providing them with proper training, and monitoring their performance to ensure they operate safely. When the company owns the truck, the trailer, or both components, it is also responsible for maintaining and repairing the rig.

Your truck accident lawyer will request trucking company records and review them for evidence of negligent hiring practices, negligent tractor-trailer maintenance, and other violations. The company may be liable for damages if the accident occurred due to errors or wrongdoing on the part of the trucking company.

A Vehicle or Parts Manufacturer

Companies that design, manufacture, and distribute semi trucks and their parts may be liable if components on the rig are defective or malfunction. Some of the most common defective truck parts that can lead to an accident include:

  • The brakes
  • The tires
  • Lights and turn signals
  • The steering mechanism
  • The fuel tank and fuel system
  • The electrical system
  • Coupling devices attaching the trailer to the truck
  • Trailer door locks and latches

Multiple companies may be at fault when a defective truck component causes an accident. To determine liability, our truck accident lawyers will thoroughly examine the 18-wheeler for any parts that may have failed or malfunctioned. We may enlist engineers and other experts to analyze and perform tests on suspected faulty components.

If we determine that a defective part or system contributed to the accident, our attorneys will identify the company or companies responsible for the part. Liability may be shared by the manufacturer, a company that assembled the product, and others. We will also take into account whether the trucking company and/or a third-party mechanic was at fault for failing to perform necessary maintenance or repairs.

The Shipping Company

As you can see, commercial trucking requires the involvement of multiple individuals and businesses. Another part that may be liable in the event of a truck accident is the company that loaded cargo on the truck.

Multiple issues involving the cargo may increase the risk of a truck accident. These include:

  • Overloading the truck: Federal regulations state that the maximum weight limit for a fully loaded semi truck traveling on interstate highways is 80,000 pounds. Trucks that are overloaded are more likely to suffer mechanical failure. Drivers may also have difficulty preventing an accident when the truck is carrying too much weight.
  • Imbalanced cargo: Federal regulations also mandate the per-axle weight limits for commercial trucks. If one axle is overloaded, or if the weight is improperly distributed among the axles, the truck may become unbalanced and tip or roll over as a result.
  • Improperly secured cargo: As the truck is loaded, the cargo must be secured so it doesn’t shift within the trailer (when the truck is hauling an enclosed trailer) or fall off of the truck (if the trailer is open, such as with a flatbed trailer, a car carrier, or a livestock trailer). Failure to secure the cargo can throw off the balance of the truck, as well as cause freight items to spill into the road and create hazards for other drivers.

The truck driver is required to inspect the load at regular intervals in the course of a haul. Our truck accident lawyers will investigate the driver’s log book and other records to determine if proper procedures were followed in loading and securing the truck.

A Government Entity

State, county, and local governments are responsible for overseeing the roads that lie within their jurisdiction. Inevitably, roads deteriorate over time, especially if they see heavy traffic involving 18-wheelers.

Government agencies may be liable for a truck accident caused by a dangerous road when they fail to address unsafe conditions such as:

  • Potholes
  • Cracks in the pavement
  • Uneven lanes
  • Poor visibility on curves
  • Faded road striping
  • Missing or damaged lights and reflectors
  • Inadequate road signage
  • Poor grading, which creates drainage issues

If faulty construction was an issue in the truck accident, our lawyers may also be able to sue the contractor or subcontractor hired by the government to build the road.

Another Driver

It is not uncommon for truck accidents to involve multiple vehicles. Some of these crashes may be caused by negligence on the part of the truck driver, while in other cases the driver of a different vehicle may be at fault.

Semi trucks take much longer than smaller, lighter vehicles to stop and move out of the way of danger. If another driver is careless behind the wheel, the truck driver may have limited options for avoiding an accident. When truck drivers are forced to overcompensate or take evasive maneuvers, nearby vehicles may be in danger.

After a truck accident, it is crucial to get the information of all of the drivers involved. If someone other than the truck driver contributed to or caused the accident, our lawyers can file a claim against any and all liable parties.

Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers in Kentucky

It is important to start working with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after a truck accident. Timely investigation is crucial for determining which parties are at fault and pursuing the compensation you deserve.

Please call (502) 222-2222 today for a free case review. The Karl Truman Law Office serves clients in Louisville and throughout Kentucky, as well as clients in neighboring Indiana.