Trucking Accidents and the Law: Who’s Responsible?
Some of the most devastating highway accidents are those in which a truck is involved. You may recall news reports last year of 7 family members killed when a semi hit their van on the Indiana Toll Road east of South Bend.
Statistics show that although large trucks are involved in only a small percentage of traffic accidents, the combination of high speed and the impact of a truck weighing 10 or more tons can often result in fatalities. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that in 2006, accidents involving large trucks caused injury to more than 100,000 people and claimed the lives of nearly 5,000 more.
Finding out what went wrong and exactly who is responsible is far more complicated than in a typical auto accident. Responsibility may fall on any of the following parties:
- The truck driver, for driver errors, which are usually caused by fatigue, sleep deprivation, speeding, not paying attention, and/or unfamiliarity with the road
- The owner of the truck and/or the owner of the trailer, or both
- The company whose name is displayed on the vehicle (“logo liability”)
- The truck driver’s employer, if the accident was caused by an employee while acting within the course and scope of their employment (“vicarious liability”)
- The manufacturer of any part of the truck, for example, defective tires that may have functioned improperly due to faulty design
- A third party maintenance company, if employed to maintain the vehicle
- The loading company, if the injury or damage was caused by or due to the contents of the truck.
The trucking industry is governed by federal law, and is monitored by a variety of federal and state agencies. Familiarity with all of the regulations is key to winning your case. Truck accident cases generally require the assistance of a lawyer with expertise and knowledge of the industry. Call our office today for a consultation.