Truck Accidents

Liability in Truck Accidents

Liability is complicated in truck accident claims. It’s important you talk with an experienced truck accident lawyer about how you figure out who caused the crash and who is responsible for compensating you. Often, these are two different parties. The business liable for your compensation isn’t necessarily the same business that directly caused the crash.

Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. is experienced in handling complex commercial truck accident cases. We thoroughly investigate truck wrecks to figure out who was at fault and who is liable for your injuries. Most importantly, we work hard to identify all the relevant insurance policies that could provide you with compensation. Our goal is to win you the maximum recovery possible.

Call us at (312) 236-2900 or use our online form to schedule your free consultation.

Who Caused the Truck Accident?

The Truck Driver

Many vehicle-truck accidents are caused by a negligent trucker. The truck driver might lack the training and experience they should have. Or, despite being well-trained, their carelessness caused a collision. Truck drivers might speed, fail to keep a lookout, fail to check blind spots, get distracted while driving, or drink and drive.

The Trucking Company

The motor carrier that employs the truck driver might be at fault. Trucking companies are responsible for maintaining their vehicles and employing qualified drivers only. Failing to uphold their various duties under the law can lead to dangerous collisions. A thorough investigation of the crash might uncover the trucking company’s negligence, not the truck drivers, was the reason you got hurt.

A Truck Manufacturer

A truck might be poorly designed or incorrectly manufactured and assembled. If a defective truck hits the road, and the defect leads to a crash, then the manufacturer might be to blame.

A Parts Manufacturer

The truck, as a whole, might not be defectively designed or manufactured. Instead, a specific part that came in the truck originally or was added to it later could be defective. When a specific part is to blame, the manufacturer of the part might be responsible for the crash.

The Cargo Loader

Any type of cargo must be appropriately secured to protect the driver and other motorists. If the business responsible for loading the cargo fails to secure it properly, the vehicle could be unstable, or the cargo might come loose during the trip. The cargo loader could be at fault for the accident that caused you harm.

Another Party

All types of individuals and businesses are involved in shipping goods across the country via semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles. Your lawyer’s independent investigation of the crash might uncover negligence by a business other than the motor carrier, manufacturer, or loader.

Liability Isn’t Fault

It’s critical to distinguish between fault and liability in truck accident cases. Fault is based on who directly caused the crash. Liability is legal responsibility for your injuries. The liable party or parties in a truck accident case must compensate you.

But the party whose negligence caused the crash might not be the only one liable for your injuries. Your attorney will scrutinize the truck accident evidence to find out who was at fault. Then your attorney will look for whether another business is liable for the negligent party’s actions.

A Motor Carrier Might Be Liable (Respondeat Superior)

The legal doctrine of vicarious liability often comes up in truck accident cases. The old legal term for this doctrine is respondeat superior, which means let the master answer. When there is an employer-employee or principal-agent relationship, and the employee or agent causes the crash, then the employer or principal is liable.

Many truck drivers are employed by a motor carrier. Many others are owner-operators working for a motor carrier under a lease. In either circumstance, the motor carrier can be held liable for the trucker’s negligent actions. That’s why you’ll pursue compensation from the motor carrier’s insurance as well as the truck driver’s insurance.

A Motor Carrier’s Negligence Might Make It Liable

It’s important to distinguish between a motor carrier’s liability based on its negligence versus vicarious liability. A trucking company’s careless or reckless behavior can cause a crash. It might be liable for your injuries based on its own negligence, not it’s truck driver’s actions.

Negligent Hiring and Retention

A motor company can negligently hire and retain a driver who isn’t qualified for the position or who has a poor driving record. For example, the company might hire a driver who doesn’t have their CDL or the endorsement necessary to drive a certain commercial vehicle. Or, the driver might have a history of speeding tickets, moving violations, or complaints.

Negligent Entrustment

A motor company might let an employee drive an 18-wheeler even when they know or should know that the driver is likely to operate the truck in a way that will cause other people harm. For example, a driver might show up to work impaired by drugs or alcohol, but the employer hands over keys to a rig anyway.

Negligent Inspections and Repairs

Federal law requires motor carriers to inspect, repair, and maintain their vehicles in safe working condition. A trucking company that neglects the condition of their vehicles will end up sending out a dangerous defective truck that causes an accident. For example, a trucking company that fails to make repairs could have a truck’s brakes fail during a trip.

Holding Trucking Companies Liable in Court

If you file a lawsuit against a trucking company, it’s important to keep the trucking company’s vicarious liability distinct from its own negligent hiring, retention, entrustment, or supervision. In Illinois, if the trucking company admits it’s liable based on respondeat superior, then you can’t also hold it liable for its own negligence.

Compensation for Truck Accident Injuries

The purpose of figuring out who is at-fault and liable for your truck accident injuries is for you to have the best chance at winning compensation. The negligent and liable parties should all have insurance. Your lawyer will investigate the truck driver, motor carrier, or other party’s insurance coverage.

Federal trucking regulations require commercial trucks to be covered by significant public liability insurance policies. The minimum policy limits are much higher than you find in traditional car accident cases. These higher policy limits help you demand full and fair compensation for your injuries.

Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. Today

If you have questions about moving forward with a truck accident claim, contact us online or call (312) 236-2900.

We offer free consultations and accept cases on a contingency fee basis. You don’t have to pay any hourly or upfront fees. Instead, you only pay us if we win you compensation.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900