Who all is Legally Liable for Damage caused by an 18-wheeler Collision?
18-wheeler accidents can be more complicated than passenger-car collisions where multiple parties have contributed to the cause of the collision and are therefore legally responsible to the Victim and/or the Victim’s Family for the damages caused from the collision. Both in terms of property damage and injuries, the damages caused by 18-wheeler collisions can be much greater than passenger-car collisions. Additionally, federal regulations implemented and enforced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) are implicated in terms of driver hiring, qualification, training and periodic re-qualification. Additionally, there are often additional parties – including potentially the freight company, the loader of the trailer, the employer, manufacturer of the tractor, those responsible for maintenance and others – who may share some liability for your damages causing in the collision. Continue reading to learn who may be liable after a truck accident, and reach out to a dedicated Beaumont truck accident lawyer if you have been hurt in a Texas truck crash.
Establishing fault after a Texas truck crash
Liability or legal responsibility for your damages depends on the fault which caused or contributed to cause the collision and resulting damages. If the truck driver was operating the tractor negligently–speeding, texting or other inattention, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, making aggressive driving maneuvers, etc.–then the truck driver will have liability.
Moreover, truckers are subject to certain safety regulations beyond those the typical driver must follow. The FMCSA sets regulations for truckers and trucking companies, including things like the types of safety equipment that trucks must have installed, how loads must be secured, how truckers must be trained, as well as extensive rules on how many hours truckers can drive, how many breaks they must take and how frequently, the length of rests between shifts, etc. If these regulations are violated leading to the collision, the trucking company may have liability beyond just being the employer of the driver, including potentially for gross negligence. This could be important when there is inadequate insurance. Additionally, there could be important evidentiary considerations which can help or hurt your claim.
Whom do you sue after a Texas truck crash
Many trucking companies attempt to insulate their liability by asserting that the driver is a so-called independent contractor, requiring the driver to sign such an agreement. Nevertheless, in some circumstances, federal law makes the driver the employee of the trucking company for purposes of liability for harm caused. Often, the trucking company, as the employer, has purchased more favorable insurance that may cover the collision, which can be very important where there are multiple claimants or the injuries and damages especially severe.
A trucking company might be “directly” liable if their own negligence contributed to an accident. For example, if a trucking company failed to do proper background checks on drivers, failed to install proper safety equipment or keep their equipment well-maintained, failed to adequately train their drivers or ensure they were properly trained, or failed to enforce safety regulations by encouraging or permitting drivers to ignore hours of service rules, then the company’s own negligence may have directly contributed to the crash.
The trucking company may be held “vicariously” liable for the actions of its agents or employees, including the truck driver. If a trucker causes a collision while performing their duties as an employee of the company, then the company may be held liable for the actions of the truck driver. Your truck accident attorney can help you establish the elements necessary to show vicarious liability under the doctrine of “respondent superior.”
Finally, there may be third parties who caused or contributed to cause the crash. If the party shipping or loading the goods improperly secured the load or overloaded the truck and contributed to the cause of the crash, the loader may be held liable in whole or in part. If a truck part failed such as a blown tire or brake failure, then the truck or tire manufacturer may be partially liable. As well, many tractors are equipped with “black boxes” or crash data event recorders that can help identify all of those who contributed to causing the collision. A knowledgeable truck accident lawyer can help you investigate the circumstances surrounding a truck crash to determine who may share liability for your damages.
Secure the Damages You Are Owed After a Texas Truck Crash
If you’ve been hurt in a Texas truck accident, contact the reliable and effective Beaumont car crash lawyers at the Gilbert Adams Law Offices for a free consultation on your case at 409-835-3000.