Truck Accident Liability: What You Need to Know

Posted on behalf of Jeff Pitman on February 9, 2018 in Truck Accidents
Updated on February 24, 2022

truck during sunsetCommercial trucks are much larger than traditional passenger vehicles, which is why commercial trucking accidents often cause people in passenger vehicles to suffer severe, potentially life-threatening injuries.

Many of these crashes are caused by the driver’s negligence, which is why injured victims often think about suing the truck driver. However, there may also be other parties who bear some responsibility for the accident.

If you or a loved one was injured by a negligent truck driver or other party affiliated with the commercial truck, it is important that you contact a Milwaukee truck injury lawyer. He or she can help you establish liability for your injuries and pursue maximum compensation from all at-fault parties.

Parties Who May Be Liable

Depending on the individual circumstances involved in the case, one or more parties may be liable for the accident, including the:

Truck Driver

The truck driver may bear all or part of the responsibility for the accident. Liability may arise in situations in which the truck driver was engaged in some form of reckless driving, such as:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while fatigued

Truck Driver’s Employer

The truck driver’s employer may be held liable for the acts of the truck driver because of the legal principle of vicarious liability. This legal theory holds that the employee’s negligence is passed on to the employer.

The employer can also be held liable for the accident when its independent actions contributed to the accident. Negligent actions could include:

  • Failing to conduct a thorough background check to ensure the driver had a safe driving history
  • Failing to properly train a driver on how to safely handle a large commercial vehicle
  • Failing to monitor the actions of the employee
  • Failing to conduct routine drug tests
  • Requiring the truck driver to work hours that exceeded federal regulations
  • Failing to maintain the vehicle, including not doing routine inspections

Defective Product Manufacturer

If the accident was caused by a defect in the commercial truck, such as defective design or manufacturing, the manufacturer of the truck may be held liable. If a defective auto part caused the accident, the manufacturer of the defective auto part can be held liable. Defective parts may include:

  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Steering columns
  • Axles

Cargo Loaders

A third party usually loads a commercial truck. If the cargo is not loaded properly, it can fall out of the back of the truck and hit other motorists on the roadway or cause the truck to tip over. An example of improper loading of cargo is failing to use the appropriate number of tie downs to prevent items from moving around when the truck is in motion. 

In other situations, the load can shift and make the trailer off balance, causing the driver to lose control of the truck. This could be from failing to use the proper equipment to keep the cargo stable or overloading the truck.  

Maintenance Crew

A third party may complete routine maintenance on the commercial truck. This could include making repairs or adjustments to the brakes, engine, wheels, tires or trailer.

If the third party in charge of maintenance neglects to do these or other repairs or files fraudulent repair records, it may be held liable for the crash.

Other Parties

There are a variety of other parties who could have some amount of fault in the crash, including:

  • Brokers
  • Shippers
  • Receivers
  • Roadway maintenance departments

Establishing Liability

Before a truck accident victim can recover compensation from any of the parties above, he or she must be able to establish liability. This process involves gathering evidence to show how the at-fault party’s actions contributed to the accident.

There are different ways to establish liability, depending on which party was liable. For example, in a case against a truck driver, showing a police report that finds the truck driver was speeding or otherwise violating traffic laws may help establish this liability. For claims against trucking companies, employment records and log records may show how the company violated federal regulations.

The experienced truck accident lawyers at PKSD can review black box evidence, detailed logs regarding working hours and maintenance reviews to determine the potential factors that contributed to the accident.  

Seek a Lawyer’s Help After a Truck Accident

Being injured in a truck accident can be an overwhelming situation for many individuals. Injuries from these accidents are often severe and the process for obtaining legal compensation can be extremely complicated and time-consuming.  

If you have been injured in a commercial truck accident, it is important that you have an attorney who understands how to navigate these complex cases. The attorneys at PKSD have years of experience in collecting evidence against truck drivers and other at-fault parties. We are prepared to fight to make sure you are fairly compensated for the injuries you sustained.

Complete a Free Case Evaluation form or call us at 877-877-2228

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