Semi-Truck Accident Liability: Who’s At Fault?
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), in 2017 there were 116,000 crashes involving large trucks or buses that lead to injury. Another 4,889 crashes involved fatalities. Learn your rights and protect your family when a semi-truck accident affects you or someone close to you.
So, Who’s Responsible?
Not only can semi-truck-related accidents be terrifying, but they can also be confusing. Unlike car accidents, accidents involving commercial semi-trucks require a thorough investigation of several parties such as:
- The driver
- The trucking company
- The truck manufacturer
- The owner of the truck
- The cargo loaders and inspectors
Which is the right party to pursue? A knowledgeable lawyer is your best option for navigating the list and reaching a successful outcome.
When Is the Driver Liable?
Many times, the truck’s drivers are responsible. They make mistakes or engage in behaviors that can compromise their ability to drive. Common reasons behind trucking accidents caused by drivers include:
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving unsafely
- Driving long hours without taking mandated breaks
- Driving distracted
The extent of a driver’s liability could also depend on whether they were working for a specific transportation company or acting as an independent shipping contractor.
Semi Drivers Have a Higher Duty of Care
Those who drive commercial carriers such as semis have a higher duty of care than the average motorist. This means they must drive defensively, doing what they can to protect those around them in any given situation. If an accident occurs and the driver is only slightly at fault, they could still be held liable.
When Is the Trucking Company Liable?
Trucking companies take great measures to insulate themselves against liability. They may rent out the trucks and equipment they use so that any equipment failure becomes the problem of the owner and not their responsibility. They may subcontract drivers versus employing them to exempt themselves from a driver’s mistakes.
Despite these measures, trucking companies may be held liable for accidents. Some situations this can arise in include when they:
- Hire an unlicensed or unsafe driver
- Cut corners with inspections or cargo loading
- Overload a trailer
- Own improperly maintained equipment
Additionally, malfunctions such as faulty brakes or broken ties could be traced back to the company that produced them. In such instances, the trucking company may submit that it was the manufacturer, not them, who is liable.
It’s easy to see how the chain of liability can quickly become complex and daunting in these cases.
Get the Outcome You Deserve
Were you involved in a semi-truck accident? The dedicated personal injury attorneys at Brazil Law Group have the experience and resources to help you. Let us navigate the complex world of trucking accidents for you.