Due to the sheer size difference between vehicles, accidents with tractor-trailers or semis are almost always serious. Even if the driver avoids injury, it’s highly probable that the smaller vehicle will incur significant property damage. Because so many parties are indirectly involved, determining fault in a commercial truck accident can be fairly complex. In order to identify the liable party, you need to identify the cause.
So, who’s responsible for your Accident?
– If investigators find the cause to be driver error, driver fatigue or driving under the influence (all of which typically coincide with Compliance, Safety and Accountability, or CSA, violations), the truck driver is negligent. In most accidents, the drivers of both vehicles are the first to be considered for fault.
Carrier or Owner-operator
– Under the Department of Transportation and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, trucking companies must follow a bevy of federal laws (like CSA regulations) that govern safe operation, equipment upkeep and accident prevention. If a carrier or owner-operator (individual truck owner) is found to be in violation of any of these laws at the time of the accident, then the motor carrier can be sued for negligence.
– If the accident was caused by a mechanical defect, the truck manufacturer (or in some cases, the maker of a replacement part) could be liable. Common equipment failures can include faulty brakes, defective tires and flawed trailer hitches. When equipment fails, assigning blame is particularly complicated. For instance, if a truck’s brakes fail because of an equipment defect, then the manufacturer is at fault. But if the truck’s brakes fail because a carrier is not performing the regulated number of maintenance checks on its fleet, then the trucking company is to blame.
– In some instances, the shipping company or cargo loader may also be at fault. If the truck’s cargo is loaded improperly or over capacity, the stability of the truck could be compromised.
It’s also important to remember that each party has a different insurance company working to deflect blame, which makes assigning responsibility even more difficult. If you are involved in a truck accident, seek representation immediately. A qualified attorney will pinpoint who is negligent and help secure the compensation you deserve.