When a collision occurs involving a large truck, the resulting claims are often more complex than car accident claims because multiple parties may be liable for the crash. Determining who is liable for a truck accident may require a thorough investigation into the different contributing factors. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave are experienced in handling truck collision claims and understand how to investigate a claim to identify all of the potentially liable defendants.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
Are you trying to determine who is liable for a truck accident? There are multiple parties who might be appropriately named as defendants in a subsequent action. Many people are quick to blame the driver, and yes it is true that sometimes the driver of a large truck may make a mistake. Oftentimes, however, fault lies with the trucking companies who employ these drivers and who put enormous pressure on drivers to bend or break the safety rules.
The potentially liable parties in a truck collision might include the following:
- The trucking company
- Parties responsible for loading the truck
- Companies responsible for maintaining and repairing the truck
- Truck and component manufacturers
- A company that leases the trucks to the trucking carrier
- The truck driver
In some cases, there may be multiple parties that are named as defendants in a lawsuit following a truck accident.
Drivers and Trucking Carriers
Like all drivers, truck drivers sometimes cause collisions. Like all human beings, they are people who sometimes make mistakes. They may grow tired due to extended driving hours. Some may drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol or fail to obey the traffic laws. Some drivers cause collisions because of speeding or reckless driving.
But more often than not, it’s the trucking company that employs the driver who is guilty of negligence and is liable for a collision. Trucking companies are vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees when the drivers are acting within the course and scope of their jobs. In some situations, a company may try to claim that the drivers are independent contractors in an effort to avoid liability. When a company tries to make this type of claim, the courts consider multiple factors to determine whether the driver is an independent contractor or should instead be considered to be an employee. Some of the factors that the court might consider include the following:
- The ability of drivers to accept or decline loads
- Whether the company has a right to control the details of how the drivers perform their jobs
- Whether the company or the driver sets the working hours
- Whether the company or the driver chooses the routes
- How the company pays the driver
- Whether the driver is allowed to also contract with other trucking companies
- Whether the driver is required to wear a uniform
- Whether the driver is required to return his or her job equipment to the company at the end of the day or if he or she is allowed to keep it at home
Depending on the court’s analysis of these and other related factors, it may find that the company is still vicariously liable for the actions of the driver despite its claim that the driver is an independent contractor.
Parties That Load the Trucks
Cargo companies that are responsible for loading and securing trucks may be liable in certain cases. Some collisions occur because of improperly secured loads or improperly loaded goods. Loads that are not properly secured may fall off of the trucks. Those that are improperly loaded may shift while they are being transported, causing the driver to lose control of the truck.
Maintenance and Repair Companies
Some trucking carriers contract out the maintenance and repair of their fleets to third parties. When an accident results because of a failing part or maintenance issues, the companies that were responsible for maintaining and repairing the trucks may be liable. Companies that are responsible for conducting inspections of the trucks may also be liable if they fail to inspect them properly.
Some trucking collisions are caused because of a defect in the manufacture or design of the truck itself or of one of its components. If a defective truck or a defective part contributed to the cause of the collision, the manufacturer may also be liable for the accident.
Companies That Lease Trucks
Some trucking carriers do not own their trucks. Instead, they lease them from third party companies. The companies that own the trucks may be liable if they fail in their responsibilities to inspect the trucks and to properly maintain them.
Contact the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave
Determining who is liable for a truck accident can be difficult, but it is important to identify all of the responsible parties so that you can work to recover all of the compensation to which you might be entitled. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave understand how to investigate these types of claims and work to maximize their clients’ recoveries. Call us today at 417-322-2222 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.