Who is Liable for My Truck Accident?

wilkes barre truck accident lawyer

Previous blogs on our website discussed the devastation truck accidents cause for survivors and their family members. However, you should also know that one or more parties can be liable for damages from a truck accident. There are cases where the driver’s employer is also liable. Trucking companies could have to pay a plaintiff damages for catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. Owners of trucks may also be responsible for accidents.

There are a couple of reasons why these parties may be responsible for an accident. Below, our Wilkes Barre truck accident lawyer explains truck accident liability.

Truck Accident Liability for Negligent Hiring and Retention

Federal regulations are strict for commercial carriers, including trucking companies. Truck drivers must be able to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and meet other qualifications. For instance, certain infractions and health conditions can keep someone from obtaining or retaining a CDL. Commercial trucking companies may sometimes hire and retain employees who are not qualified to drive 18-wheelers. The consequences of these unethical business practices are devastating for other motorists.

When companies hire or retain employees, such as those with DUI charges that would disqualify them from keeping their CDLs, it may be possible to seek compensation.

Drivers must keep driver qualification files (DQ files), which may contain information about a driver’s medical history and regulation violations. These documents can be obtained during the discovery phase of a truck accident lawsuit and may show the company hired or retained an unqualified driver.

Truck Accident Liability and Improper Maintenance

Federal regulations, specifically those listed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), require interstate commercial trucking companies to perform regular maintenance. This also includes preventative maintenance during inspections. A trucking company cannot simply wait until a part on a vehicle breaks to perform maintenance and must look for warning signs of issues that could be hazardous to others.

Unfortunately, truck companies do not always abide by maintenance and inspection regulations. Crashes may occur when brakes fail. If tires are not kept in good condition, the risk of a crash increases significantly, especially during or after bad weather. Pieces of equipment can fall from trucks and strike other drivers, leading to serious injuries or even decapitations.

In cases where a truck accident involves maintenance issues, it may be possible to hold the company accountable for damages. Federal regulations also require trucking companies to retain maintenance logs. There could be documentation if a company failed to perform maintenance or inspections on their vehicles.

Suing the Truck’s Owner

Truck owners may lease their vehicles to companies, who in turn allow employees to use these vehicles. There are cases where it would be possible to file a lawsuit against the truck’s owner. For instance, if the truck owner sold a company a defective or unsafe vehicle and failed to disclose that information, it could be possible to hold the owner liable for damages.

This is only one example of when a truck’s owner can become a defendant in a truck accident lawsuit. Contracts between the owner and company can also determine liability.

Truck Accident Liability for Independent Contractors and Employees

Trucking companies used to and still use independent contractors instead of employees to avoid liability. However, it may still be possible to hold other parties accountable for an accident. The truck’s owner or lessor could be sued. You should not let the driver’s lack of employment status stop you from seeking compensation for injuries or a loss.

You should speak with a truck accident attorney to determine whether it would be possible to hold a third party responsible for an accident.

Other Parties Responsible for a Truck Accident

Additional third-party companies could be responsible for an accident. Cargo loading companies and truck part manufacturers are good examples. When trucks are not loaded correctly, the risk of an accident increases.

In addition, manufacturing and design defects can also lead to an accident. An attorney can help you determine if it would be possible to seek damages against these third parties.

Contact a Wilkes Barre Truck Accident Lawyer

You can speak to a Wilkes Barre truck accident lawyer at our firm to determine whether it would be possible to file a lawsuit for a crash. Schedule a free consultation with O’Donnell Law Offices by calling (570)258-8820 or use our online contact form.  NO FEES OR COSTS UNTIL WE WIN.

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