Who Is Liable For A Truck Accident?
It takes an accomplished attorney to handle a complex case
Establishing liability for many accidents is a fairly straightforward process. For instance, in a rear-end collision, the driver of the rear car is almost always at fault. In a one-car accident in which a passenger is injured, the driver of the car is generally liable for the passenger's injury. There are exceptions to every rule, but in most such cases, liability is not contested.
Truck accidents are an entirely different animal. That's because, at minimum, there's a trucking company involved in addition to the truck driver. Most tractor-trailers have multiple insurance policies - one for the cab, another for the trailer - and the shipper of the cargo may also be involved as a third party. When a truck jackknifes or rolls over on a congested highway, multiple cars may be involved - and every one of those vehicles has its own insurance as well.
That's why you need an experienced and innovative truck accident attorney to handle your case. That's why you need NLE Law. If you try to handle multiple insurance companies on your own, you run the risk of accepting a "low-ball" settlement from one insurer that could affect other insurers' liabilities. With our firm on your side, you can focus on your recovery while we review the many applicable coverages and responsible parties to find the way to get all the compensation you need.
Truck drivers, trucking companies, third parties can all be liable
Depending on the cause of your accident, either the truck driver or trucking company could be held liable for your injuries. That's why it's so important to contact us right away so that we can start our investigation as soon as possible, while critical evidence is still available. Here are a few examples of how liability could be determined in a truck accident:
- Fatigued/Asleep-at-the-Wheel Trucker: Truck drivers are required to follow "hours of service" rules that are designed to eliminate drowsy driving. In some cases, truckers unilaterally decide to break the rules and put others at risk when they fall asleep at the wheel. However, our investigation may also show that the trucking company negligently pressured the driver to work beyond the maximum hours of service or skip mandatory breaks.
- Drunk Driving: On the surface, it may seems as though driving drunk is purely the truck driver's responsibility. After all, trucking companies have strict policies in place to prevent drunk driving. However, a trucking company may have failed to conduct a background check before hiring a driver with a history of DUI, or they may have negligently retained a driver after they found out that he or she was a risk to drive drunk.
- Speeding: Again, driving too fast may have been the trucker's own decision or the result of negligence on the part of the trucking company. If the trucker was asked to make deliveries on an unrealistically tight schedule, that may be enough to show that the company pressured the driver to break the speed limit.
- Distracted Driving: It's quite common for truckers to drive distracted, both because they spend their entire working days behind the wheel and because they may need to use a GPS device or talk to a dispatcher while on the road. While engaging in distracting behavior is the truck driver's own responsibility, we may also be able to hold the trucking company liable for failing to adequately train or supervise the driver.
Other parties may also be liable for a truck accident, depending on the circumstances. For instance, if the trucker had to swerve to avoid another vehicle and subsequently jackknifed or rolled over, the driver of the other vehicle might be liable. The shipper of the cargo could be held liable if the cargo was hazardous or dangerous in some way and the trucking company was not appropriately notified. If the accident involved road conditions, the municipality responsible for maintaining the road could be held liable.
Truck accidents are complex cases. To recover the compensation you need to be made whole again, you need a law firm that will look at the entire picture. Our attorneys are experts at reviewing insurance policies, combing through trucking company records and investigating accident scenes to find out who should be held responsible for your injuries and how your costs can be paid. We'll put our resources to work to build your case, and we'll stay with you throughout the process no matter how long it takes.
If you've been seriously injured in a truck accident, you need an accomplished, innovative legal team on your side. Reach out to NLE Law right away. Call (206) 623-7520 for your free consultation.