Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Truck Accident?
Accidents with semi trucks can be terrifying. Large commercial vehicles can weigh anywhere from 10,000 to 80,000 pounds (or more, if they have an overload permit). Therefore, if passenger vehicles are involved in a collision with these big rigs, the larger vehicles will do much more damage. Anytime someone is involved in a crash with a commercial vehicle, the passenger car occupants are at much higher risk of severe injury or death than the truck driver, and the passenger car itself is likely to be incredibly damaged in the event. After one of these incidents, who can be held liable for the medical bills and destroyed property?
When it comes to big rigs and other commercial vehicles, there are an enormous number of people who could be held responsible for the damage. These players include the truck driver, the owner of the truck, the person that leased the truck, the manufacturer of the vehicle, the manufacturers who made the parts belonging to the vehicle, and the shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo.
Truck Driver vs. Company
If the truck driver was responsible for the collision, whether or not you can sue the driver directly depends on his or her status. If he or she is an independent contractor, likely he or she will have insurance to cover the cost of the collision. As an independent contractor, the driver essentially employs himself or herself, meaning they have liability. However, if he or she works for a company with trucking permits, you would need to sue the company or send an insurance claim to the business’s insurance company. Federal laws and regulations have made trucking companies responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its name or placard displayed on the vehicle.
In an accident involving a faulty part or vehicle failure, the driver might not be responsible. For example, if a manufacturer made a mistake by buying cheap materials to make tires, and a tire blows out on the road, the manufacturer would be held liable for the injuries and property damage caused by the faulty tire. Likewise, there might be many manufacturers involved in building the commercial vehicles itself. If only one part was at fault for an accident, the manufacturer who made that part would be responsible as opposed to the manufacturer who put all parts together to make the entire vehicle. In such a complicated case, an investigation would have to be done to determine which part failed and which manufacturer might be liable for the damages.
Shipper/ Loader of Cargo
Overloading a commercial truck is an abysmal decision. In the event the person responsible for loading cargo intentionally puts too much weight on the truck, he or she would be held liable for any accidents caused by the overloading. Excessive weight can put too much stress on the tires, which could cause them to rupture. If the driver is unprepared for this situation, he or she may not be able to regain control of the vehicle, causing a collision. However, the company who hired the cargo loader might be held liable if they didn’t provide adequate training on how to correctly load a commercial vehicle and why overloading is a safety hazard.
Proving liability in truck accidents can be a headache. If you’re unsure where to begin, let us assist. Habbas & Associates is dedicated to helping the victims of personal injury seek compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Our skilled San Jose truck accident attorneys have more than 200 years of combined legal experience to offer your case. We have also developed a reputation for providing compassionate and skilled guidance to our clients. This may be an incredibly stressful and emotionally draining time for you and your family, so we will do our best to make this process as stress-free for you as possible. Let us see what we can do for your case.
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