Understanding Liability in Trucking Accidents

Understanding Liability in Trucking AccidentsAccidents involving large commercial trucks, such as tractor trailers, car haulers, dump trucks, garbage trucks, and armored vehicles are very different from accidents only involving standard passenger automobiles. In fact, different rules apply when a vehicle weighs more than 10,000 pounds and even more stringent regulations apply when a vehicle weighs in excess of 26,000 pounds. While you likely still need compensation to cover your losses for these types of accidents, you must have significant proof of liability, and depending on the factors and circumstances involved, truck accident cases can have several different liable parties.

It can be a challenge to determine liability for a truck accident or an accident involving a commercial vehicle subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Regulations, because there may be many different parties involved, such as brokers and shippers. In addition, trucking companies and insurance companies become very uncooperative and put up a strong fight when it comes to protecting the truck driver and creating their defenses. Their goal is to ensure that the truck driver and employer are required to pay as little as possible if any liability on their part is found.

Regardless of how difficult and complex truck accidents can be, the Columbus truck accident lawyers at Soroka & Associates know exactly what to do. We have the experience needed to investigate all potential parties, look at every single factor and circumstance, and prepare to stand up and fight against small or large trucking companies.

Eight possible liable parties in a truck accident claim

  1. Truck driver: The truck driver may be the most obvious choice when looking at liability for a truck accident. However, there would need to be direct proof that the driver caused the accident. For example, they may have made a mistake or error, violated a traffic regulation, were caught drinking and driving, or were falling asleep behind the wheel.
  2. Trucking company: Trucking companies are often responsible for the actions of their drivers and the condition of their trucks. For example, if a truck has not been maintained or serviced in years and a truck driver causes a multi-vehicle pileup because of it, the trucking company will likely be held liable. Even if the trucking company was on the up-and-up, they may still be liable for any losses their drivers caused.
  3. Another driver: Sometimes, an entirely different driver causes your accident. Drivers who are negligent or reckless, who change lanes without signaling or try to pass trucks on the right, or who are distracted or impaired may end up causing your accident.
  4. Truck manufacturer: Sometimes, the design or parts of a tractor trailer can have flaws that cause an accident. If a semi-truck’s steering wheel or brakes stops working while going down the road and causes a severe collision, one of the first parties that may be found responsible is the truck manufacturer.
  5. Cargo loaders/ cargo loading companies: Many trucking companies hire cargo loaders or outsource their loaders from cargo loading companies. These professionals have a very important task of making sure that the truck cargo loads are loaded correctly before drivers drive off. If the load is improperly loaded, weighs too much, or is unbalanced and an accident occurs, the cargo loaders or cargo loading company will likely be found liable for the accident.
  6. Truck mechanics: If a big rig was recently in the shop for repairs or services and an accident happens, one of the first parties an attorney will look at is the truck mechanic. This is because it was their duty to inform the trucking company about any potential issues as well as to fix them. For instance, if a semi-truck was getting an inspection in a truck mechanic shop and the next week had a tire blowout while going down the highway, the truck mechanics could be held liable because it was their job to inform the trucking company about the bad tires.
  7. Truck owners: Sometimes, trucking companies do not own their semi-trucks. Instead, another company may own them, and the trucking company leases them for their drivers to use. When this happens, it is typically the truck owner’s responsibility to ensure that the trucks are maintained and up to date on everything. Failure to do so may leave the owner open to liability.
  8. Brokers and Shippers: There are various theories of liability against brokers and shippers, such as negligent selection of a motor carrier, vicarious liability pursuant to the statutory employee doctrine, and vicarious liability pursuant to a principal-agent relationship.

Evidence is a key factor in establishing liability for a truck accident in Columbus, OH

After being involved in a truck accident, your attorney collects and analyzes evidence that can benefit your claim. This evidence can show how your accident happened, who was involved, who is liable, and why your accident happened. Some vital pieces of evidence that you may need to support your story include:

  • Police reports
  • Photographs
  • Truck black box data
  • Electronic Logs and safety software download
  • Video footage
  • Truck activity logs
  • Medical records
  • Phone records, imaging, and download
  • Various electronic devices a driver had in his or her possession at the time of crash
  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Expert witness statements

As much as an eyewitness statement can help your case, the other types of evidence listed above can make or break your shot at recovering compensation. Photographs of the scene are vital to proving liability in a trucking accident. Why? Because a visual representation of the scene is helpful for us, for juries, and for the insurance company that tries to claim your accident “wasn’t that bad.” Was the truck on the wrong side of the road? Was the driver distracted? The same goes for video footage of the crash. Talk to property owners in and around the immediate area of the crash, or even up the road from the crash. Videos can help piece together everything that happened to the point of showing the moments leading to the crash and the crash itself.

The truck accident lawyers at Soroka & Associates have the tools and resources to investigate your accident and determine the responsible parties. We have the right experts and our immediate response team standing by 24 hours a day to immediately investigate all commercial vehicle crashes, and make sure the evidence is collected, before it has the chance to be destroyed. Therefore, if you or someone you know has been injured in a truck accident in Columbus, OH, please reach out to our legal team at your earliest opportunity. We know the ins and outs of these accidents and will help you navigate the complexities and challenges that come with your truck accident claim. Call the office of Soroka & Associates or submit our contact form for a free consultation at no cost today.