Accidents involving large trucks have the potential to cause a great deal more damage than passenger car collisions due to the weight and size of commercial vehicles. Injuries caused by truck accidents are often severe, which can result in mounting medical costs and lost wages for the injured party.
For the injured person to receive compensation that will cover these financial burdens, they need to determine who can be held legally responsible for the accident. This can be complicated because the liability may rest with a third party who was not physically involved in the collision, such as the truck driver’s employer, the vehicle manufacturer, or the company that performs maintenance on the vehicle. A personal injury lawyer can help sort out the situation, determine the liability and recover compensation.
What Factors Determine Liability?
Several factors could come into play when it comes to proving liability in a truck accident injury case. At first glance, the truck driver may appear solely responsible. While that’s always a possibility, it’s important to investigate the details of the case and obtain records that could shine a light on why the accident occurred. Here are examples of factors that could determine liability
- Employer adherence to industry regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets regulations for commercial carriers that address the number of hours a driver can work without a break, known as hours of service regulations, employee screening during the hiring process, driver training, weight and size restrictions, vehicle maintenance, and cargo loading restrictions. A single oversight or infraction of these regulations can have serious consequences for other people on the road. Many trucking companies are more concerned with their bottom line than the safety of others on the road, leading them to push drivers past the limits of their fatigue so that they can deliver cargo on a tight schedule.
- Reckless driving or driving under the influence
The truck driver may be held responsible for the crash if they were driving recklessly, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or acting negligently in a way that placed other people on the road in danger. An employer may share liability for the truck driver’s actions if the company failed to properly vet the driver before hiring. For example, a driver has a history of traffic violations and their employer did not run a background check before they hit the road.
- Road conditions
While inclement weather conditions are out of anyone’s control, the employer and the driver have a responsibility to prepare for conditions such as snow, rain, fog, ice, and high winds. Vehicle operators are expected to drive at a reduced speed and use their best judgment so as not to place themselves or others in danger.
- Failed maintenance
Maintenance and service may be the responsibility of the employer, the owner of the truck if it isn’t the employer or a third party tasked with maintaining a company’s fleet. A simple maintenance failure can lead to a devastating accident and complicate issues of liability.
- Improperly loaded cargo
The FMCSA provides regulations for loading cargo that relate to size, weight, weight distribution, and securement. The agency also provides specific rules for loading and securing different commodities, from hazardous materials to heavy equipment and machinery. Improperly loaded cargo can make it difficult for even a safe and conscientious truck driver to avoid an accident.
An experienced truck accident attorney will consider the multitude of potential factors at play and investigate your case to determine which party or parties can be held liable for your injuries.
What Evidence Helps Determine Truck Accident Liability in Texas?
Your attorney will review data such as driving records, activity logs, police reports, and witness statements to determine the cause of the accident. Commercial trucks are required to have electronic control modules (ECMs) that record information about the truck’s engine and operation. A court order may be required to obtain certain types of evidence from the employer.
Medical records are also a key piece of evidence in truck accident cases. Accident victims should always seek out appropriate medical care as soon as possible to protect their health and document their injuries.
What if Multiple Parties Caused the Accident?
Determining truck accident liability can be a complicated task when multiple parties are involved. Your truck accident lawyer will perform a thorough review of the facts to develop a case to hold the responsible parties liable.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Commercial truck accidents can be complex, but an experienced personal injury attorney will navigate communication with insurance providers and the other parties’ legal teams while uncovering evidence to establish liability. It’s important to contact an attorney before communicating with the other party or their representatives about the incident, as their goal is to deny your claim or settle with as small a payout as possible.
The attorneys at Johnson Garcia LLP are committed to holding the liable party or parties accountable and recovering the compensation our clients deserve. If necessary, we are willing to go to court and fight to obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life.
Johnson Garcia LLP attorneys work on a contingency basis because we have confidence in our ability to secure compensation for Texans who have been injured in commercial truck accidents. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.