Many consider the commercial trucking industry and truck drivers to be the backbone of America. Without the goods they transport and supply to areas all over the country, many wouldn’t have access to necessities such as food and pharmaceuticals. Unfortunately, the size and weight of the trucks carrying these goods can often result in tragic injuries and fatalities when involved in an accident with smaller passenger vehicles.
In 2019, the number of fatal crashes involving tractor-trailers increased by 43% since 2010, totaling over 5,000 trucks. From those accidents that occurred, 5,005 people were killed. These numbers only continue to increase due to a growing economy and supply and demand.
Though fault might seem obvious in a tractor-trailer accident, proving liability is not always easy. You might think that the driver is clearly to blame, but there are a few other parties that could potentially be held liable for a trucking-related accident. Therefore, it’s essential in these cases to work with an attorney to ensure all injured victims are adequately compensated, and all guilty parties are held accountable.
Who Is Liable in an Accident Involving a Semi-Truck?
While the truck driver may be to blame for any negligent driving, they could also share liability with a few other parties for other potential factors that may have contributed to the accident. The following are other possible parties that could share liability or be entirely at fault in a truck accident personal injury claim:
The Truck Driver
If the driver themself was fully responsible for their negligent actions, they may be held liable for causing the accident and any injuries that were sustained as a result. Negligent acts can include speeding, improper lane changes, aggressive driving, failure to yield the right-of-way, failing to use a signal, or driving while impaired or intoxicated.
The Truck Company
The individual owner of the truck or the company that owns the truck as part of a fleet is responsible for the trucks they own and maintain. They are also responsible for the drivers they employ. So if a truck malfunctions, the company may be found accountable for failing to keep up with the maintenance. Additionally, if they are aware of a driver under their employment that tends to drive negligently, they may also be held accountable for the driver’s actions and the accident that followed as a result.
The Parts Manufacturer
If a faulty or defective part is found to be the cause of the accident, the company that manufactured and distributed that part can be held liable. For example, if there was an issue with the brakes or the steering mechanisms, it can be traced back to the manufacturer following the accident.
The Truck Mechanic or Repair Shop
The individual mechanic or the body shop responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the truck can also be found guilty if their work on the truck was related in any way to the accident and how it occurred.
The Shipping Company
When truck drivers pick up a load at a shipping facility, the shipping company and those working at the facility are responsible for ensuring the cargo is properly loaded and secured. If the truck swerved or tipped over, for example, because something was not properly secured, it could be traced back to the shipping company.
Proving Fault After a Commercial Truck Accident
Determining fault after a trucking accident can be tricky. As there are potentially multiple parties that may share in the liability, victims will need to collect and provide all necessary evidence to determine fault and win their case to be awarded proper compensation. Such evidence and information can include:
- Copies of police reports
- Photographs from the scene of the accident
- Eye witness statements
- Video surveillance from nearby businesses that may have caught footage of the accident
- The truck driver logs and black box (this can help show if they were speeding or potentially tired from having gone over mileage or hours-worked limits)
- Maintenance records
- Info about cargo that was being transported at the time
- Accident reconstruction diagrams
- Medical records to back up injury claims
Knowing what you need to collect ahead of time is different than trying to gather after the accident has occurred—especially if you sustained severe injuries. This is why it’s crucial to work with an experienced attorney. They can speak to any necessary parties to gather what evidence is needed to build your case while you focus on your recovery.
Furthermore, insurance companies, especially those that represent trucking companies, are notorious for fighting against claims to deny fault to reduce the compensation amount they have to pay to injured victims. An attorney will know how to work with difficult insurers to ensure fault is proven, so you are awarded the full amount of damages you deserve.
Our Indiana Personal Injury Attorneys Are Here to Help
At Crossen Law Firm, we understand the physical and emotional damages that can impact your life after an accident, especially one involving large commercial vehicles. Not only are these types of accidents traumatizing, but they can be difficult and expensive to navigate as well. For over 20 years, our team has worked tirelessly to help truck accident victims receive the compensation they deserve.
If you or a loved one has been in an accident, contact us on our website or call us today at (317) 401-8626 for a free consultation!