Each year there are an estimated 4,000 fatalities and more than 110,000 injuries from vehicle accidents involving large or commercial trucks. Often, these accidents result in serious injury or even death, and it is most commonly drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles who are hurt. Those responsible for these unfortunate accidents should be held accountable.
However, between the large trucking companies and individuals in the passenger car there is an obvious disparity of information and resources. Often, individuals are uncertain who can be held liable after a truck accident. Many people have never been involved in a personal injury claim before and have little knowledge on what to expect or how to proceed.
Lawyers focused on this area of law can help. Who can be held responsible for the collision is fact specific to every accident, but typically three parties are involved in the claim.
Holding the Truck Driver Accountable
In many instances, victims feel the truck driver is liable for the accident. This is the obvious and initial place to lay blame, as the truck driver was directly involved in the accident. It is difficult for occupants of the passenger vehicle to see responsible parties past the individual physically present at the accident scene. At times, the acts or omissions by the truck driver do warrant liability.
The truck driver could be liable under a claim if the accident resulted from fatigue or drunk driving. Driving when tired or under the influence are known causes of serious accidents and reckless driving. Everyone in Virginia is prohibited from drunk driving, and truck drivers are only allowed to be on the road for certain number of hours at a time and throughout the week. Disregard for these laws and restrictions could make the driver accountable for an accident.
Also, a truck driver could be held liable if he or she did not complete training or certifications required under Virginia law. There are specific regulations for the operation of large, commercial trucks. Failure or falsification of these qualifications could mean the truck driver is liable, whole or in part, for victim’s compensation.
Taking on the Trucking Company
Even if a truck driver directly caused an accident, the trucking company could still be in a claim or lawsuit as the driver’s employer. Actions or omissions by the trucking company, in terms of training or hiring practices, could mean the trucking company is responsible for the negligent actions of its employees. Trucking companies are often pushing employees to maximize time and capacity, even if unwritten, the pressure to exceed regulations on driving time or distance, could equate to liability for an accident. Investigation into company culture and policies is absolutely necessary.
Alternatively, the trucking company could be liable for failing to properly inspect or maintain the truck involved in an accident. If this is the case, individuals will want to know if the company owns the truck or leased it, as both parties could be named in a claim.
Trucking companies are heavily regulated in Virginia and in states across the country through laws at the state and federal level. These laws cover everything from proper training of employees, to insurance requirements for trucking companies. Failure to meet the obligations under these regulations could result in liability for the company after a truck accident. Therefore, a good accident attorney will always investigate the company’s current and past compliance record, including with federal regulations of the trucking industry.
Tracking Down the Manufacturers
It is possible that a truck accident occurred without fault by either driver involved, such as a mechanical malfunction. In this situation, you need to look to the different manufacturers when naming parties in a claim. The first potential party would be the truck manufacturer. A default or defect could result from assembly of the truck, and the truck manufacturer should have known it existed.
However, other manufacturing defaults occur under the hood and due to smaller parts. It could be the design flaw of a specific part or piece of the truck. In this situation, it might not be the named truck manufacturer that is liable, but the company making these individual pieces.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney
If you need legal advice or information on a truck accident and who is accountable, contact the experienced legal team at Scott R. Barney Esq., PLLC,. Our office focuses on truck accidents and personal injury claims related to this specific area of law. To schedule an initial consultation, contact our office.