Who May Be Liable for Damages Suffered in a Truck Accident?
A damages lawsuit following a truck accident is usually more complicated than one for a crash involving two cars or SUVs. In addition to the gravity of the injuries and property damage that result, there may be multiple parties and multiple insurance companies. Identifying the potentially responsible parties and holding them liable takes good footwork and relentless pursuit.
After a truck accident, there will be investigations by state and/or local law enforcement. The trucking company might conduct its own investigation through its insurance carrier. As the injured person, you should retain a lawyer who is experienced in commercial truck accident cases, knows how to work with investigators and takes all additional measures necessary, such as the hiring of private accident experts.
The post-accident investigations should uncover all the parties who may be liable for your damages. Responsibility may lie with one or more of these companies or individuals:
- Truck company or owner — There are multiple ways in which a trucking company may be responsible for a crash, in addition to being liable for the conduct of drivers it employs. Companies might provide poor driver training, hire unqualified drivers or impel drivers to stay on the road longer than federal safety regulations allow. A company or owner might also fail to maintain a truck properly.
- Truck and parts manufacturers — Trucks are assembled from thousands of parts, any of which can fail due to a manufacturing defect. If a defect in the truck or any of its parts was a contributing cause of the accident, the manufacturer at fault can be named as a defendant.
- Cargo loading company — Trucks are often loaded by shippers and other third-parties, not by the trucker alone. Loaders could be liable if they failed to secure the cargo, placed the cargo in an unbalanced arrangement or overloaded the truck.
- Maintenance provider — Poorly maintained trucks are a serious problem, as companies are under pressure to keep trucks rolling and not have them sitting in the shop. If your crash can be traced to shoddy maintenance and repair practices, then the provider could bear liability.
- Truck driver — Though the trucking company is liable for the actions of drivers it employs, that vicarious liability does not extend to a driver’s reckless illegal conduct, such as driving while intoxicated or while impaired by drug use.
It is likely that all the parties involved will have their own insurance companies, each with their own defense counsel. This makes settlement negotiations challenging and sometimes frustrating. An experienced truck accident lawyer can effectively navigate complex litigation with the goal of obtaining the maximum compensation available to an injured party.
At Patrick C. Smith, Attorney at Law, in Pittsburg, I help people recover fair compensation for injuries suffered in commercial truck accidents in Kansas and Missouri. Please call me at or contact me online to schedule a free initial consultation..