Who is Liable for My Truck Accident?
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 coupleof reasons why these parties may be responsible for an accident. Below, ourWilkes-Barre truck accident lawyer explains truck accident liability.
Truck Accident Liability for Negligent Hiring and Retention
Federal regulationsare strict for commercial carriers, including trucking companies. Truck driversmust be able to hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and meet otherqualifications. For instance, certain infractions and health conditions cankeep someone from obtaining or retaining a CDL. Commercial trucking companiesmay sometimes hire and retain employees who are not qualified to drive18-wheelers. The consequences of these unethical business practices aredevastating for other motorists.
When companies hireor retain employees, such as those with DUI charges that would disqualify themfrom keeping their CDLs, it may be possible to seek compensation.
Drivers must keepdriver qualification files (DQ files), which may contain information about adriver’s medical history and regulation violations. These documents can beobtained during the discovery phase of a truck accident lawsuit and may showthe 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 badweather. Pieces of equipment can fall from trucks and strike other drivers,leading to serious injuries or even decapitations.
In cases where atruck accident involves maintenance issues, it may be possible to hold thecompany accountable for damages. Federal regulations also require truckingcompanies to retain maintenance logs. There could be documentation if a companyfailed to perform maintenance or inspections on their vehicles.
Suing the Truck’s Owner
Truck owners may lease their vehicles to companies, who in turn allowemployees to use these vehicles. There are cases where it would be possible tofile a lawsuit against the truck’s owner. For instance, if the truck owner solda company a defective or unsafe vehicle and failed to disclose thatinformation, 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 defendantin a truck accident lawsuit. Contracts between the owner and company can alsodetermine liability.
Truck Accident Liability for Independent Contractors and Employees
Trucking companiesused to and still use independent contractors instead of employees to avoidliability. However, it may still be possible to hold other parties accountablefor an accident. The truck’s owner or lessor could be sued. You should not letthe driver’s lack of employment status stop you from seeking compensation forinjuries or a loss.
You should speak with a Wilkes-Barre truck accident attorney to determine whether it would be possible to hold a third party responsible for an accident. Visit our Truck Accidents FAQ section for more information.
Other Parties Responsible for a Truck Accident
Additionalthird-party companies could be responsible for an accident. Cargo loadingcompanies and truck part manufacturers are good examples. When trucks are notloaded correctly, the risk of an accident increases.
In addition,manufacturing and design defects can also lead to an accident. An attorney canhelp you determine if it would be possible to seek damages against these thirdparties.
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 570-821-5717 or use our online contact form. NO FEES OR COSTS UNTIL WE WIN.