Truck accidents are about as dangerous – and as terrifying – as traffic accidents can get. Even relatively minor truck accidents can lead to very serious injuries, and getting to the bottom of the matter in terms of liability is an important aspect of every truck accident claim. Truck accidents come in many different varieties, and a range of different parties can be found liable – making truck accident claims as complicated as truck accidents are dangerous. If you’ve been injured in a truck accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, reach out to an experienced Austin truck accident attorney for the legal help you need today.
What’s in This Guide
- The Potentially Liable Parties in Trucking Accidents
- How Liability Can Be Shared among Parties in Trucking Accidents
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, deciphering who is liable for your legal damages (or losses) can be one of the most difficult aspects of your truck accident claim. It’s important to know that multiple parties may share liability for the accident that leaves you injured and to carefully address this shared liability as you move forward.
The Truck Driver
When it comes to avoiding dangerous truck accidents, the truck driver – himself or herself – is the first line of defense. Truck drivers are responsible for all of the following in their efforts to drive safely and honor the duty of care they owe everyone else on the road:
- Carefully adhering to the safety rules of the road, including not exceeding the speed limit and adjusting one’s speed in relation to the road’s condition, to the effects of inclement weather, to low visibility, and to anything else that affects the trucker’s ability to drive safely
- Safely accounting for the truck’s increased stopping requirements (by allowing more traveling distance between one’s semi and a forward vehicle) and the blind spots that stretch across all four sides of big rigs (by paying careful attention whenever leaving one’s lane of traffic)
- Not driving outside of the legal limitations regarding hours of service
- Committing to not drinking and driving
- Doing the necessary safety checks – according to applicable protocols – at every stop
Truck drivers have the capacity to prevent – or mitigate – the majority of truck accidents on our roads, and they are often deemed liable when accidents happen.
The Owner of the Truck
If the truck is owned by someone other than the truck driver or a trucking company, the truck’s owner can also bear liability for any ensuing truck accidents. He or she is responsible for ensuring the rig is safely maintained and for allowing only properly licensed and reliable truck drivers to get behind the wheel (in addition to meeting other standard requirements).
The Trucking Company
The trucking company can bear considerable responsibility when it comes to truck accidents. Consider all the following:
- The trucking company is responsible for keeping a safe, well-maintained fleet of rigs.
- The trucking company is responsible for hiring safe, appropriately licensed, experienced, and reliable truck drivers.
- The trucking company is responsible for implementing and enforcing careful maintenance schedules and safety checklists.
- The trucking company is responsible for hiring experienced and reliable truck mechanics.
- The trucking company is responsible for not pushing its drivers beyond the boundaries of safety (and for carefully adhering to all hours-of-service restrictions).
- The trucking company is responsible for ensuring that trailers are loaded according to all applicable safety requirements.
Trucking companies are often implicated for the role they play in dangerous truck accidents on our roadways.
The Truck/Parts Manufacturer
The truck itself – and the parts that make it up – must be safe to begin with. When a truck (or one of its parts) is faultily designed or is rendered defective during the manufacturing process, it can lead to or can exacerbate dangerous truck accidents. Further, when a truck or one of its parts does not come with adequate safety instructions or warnings, it can increase the risk that serious truck accidents will happen.
The Cargo Loaders/Loading Company
The semis that share our roads with us are immense, and the size differential between them and other vehicles on the road helps to ensure that the occupants of the other vehicles involved are far more likely to be seriously injured than the truck drivers themselves are. One of the factors that frequently contributes to dangerous truck accidents is unsafe cargo loading. When cargo is allowed to shift dangerously, is top heavy, isn’t secured adequately, or is negligently tended to in any other way, it can cause or contribute to ensuing truck accidents. Dangerously sifting loads are closely associated with jackknife and rollover accidents (both of which are exceptionally dangerous).
While truck drivers tend to shoulder at least some of the liability in truck accidents, there is often plenty to go around. For example, if a truck driver speeds excessively, it makes a dangerous truck accident that much more likely to happen, and he or she will almost certainly be deemed responsible in any truck accident claim that follows (such as if he or she rear-ends another driver at a stop sign), but that may not be the end of the story. Consider the following:
- If the trucking company failed to safely maintain the rig’s brakes and required the truck driver to drive longer hours than it is legal to log, it will likely also bear some part of the responsibility for the accident.
- If the truck’s brakes responded poorly due to a manufacturing flaw, the parts manufacturer may also be found liable.
- If the truck’s load was overweight, that too could have contributed to the rear-end accident.
Ultimately, it is important to know where responsibility lies in your truck accident claim because doing so improves your chances of obtaining the compensation to which you are entitled and that you need to regain your health and well-being to the best of your ability.
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Turn to an Experienced Austin Truck Accident Attorney for the Help You Need
Liability in truck accidents can be shouldered by multiple parties, and although this can contribute to exceptionally complicated cases, the skilled Austin truck accident attorneys at The Patel Firm are up to the important task of zealously pursuing the compensation to which you are entitled. For more information about what we can do for you, please don’t wait to contact or call us at 361-400-2036 today.