Commercial trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds. When one hits a passenger car, the injuries can be devastating. If you are hit by a commercial truck, you may want to hire a commercial truck accident lawyer to represent you in a claim or lawsuit.
One of the most critical aspects of a commercial trucking accident is determining liability. Commercial truck drivers have stringent regulations and rules regarding how they operate on the road.
Still, determining accident liability is on a comparative negligence basis. This means your commercial truck accident settlements can be reduced according to your percentage of liability for the accident. That is why having a skilled commercial truck accident attorney in your corner is critical.
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Common Types of Commercial Trucking Accidents
Some of the most common tractor-trailer accidents are the following:
- Jackknife: The cab and trailer move into a bent and doubled-up position, often blocking the roadway.
- Braking: Trucks weight a lot fully loaded and may not slow down in time for traffic.
- Wide-angle turn accidents: A truck often must use several lanes when turning and can hit other vehicles.
- Speeding: Trucks often drive far above the speed limit to get to their destination on time and get into serious accidents.
When the Employer Can Be Held Liable
In most vehicle accident cases, the party who caused the accident is responsible for your injuries and damages. But a commercial truck driver’s employer is often liable. Sometimes the trucking company engages in negligent behavior that causes an accident:
- Failing to maintain the truck, such as changing the tires regularly
- Not supervising drivers appropriately
- Encouraging their drivers to drive beyond their federally allowed hours
- Driving without a commercial driver’s license
- Poor driver training
- Hiring drivers with undetected drug or alcohol problems
For the trucking company to be held liable for the crash, the driver and the company must have an employment relationship. However, if the trucker is an independent contractor, establishing the company’s liability may be challenging.
When Is a Third Party Liable?
In some accidents, a commercial trucking accident may be due to improperly loaded cargo. Shipping companies usually load the trailers. If a poorly loaded trailer caused the crash, your attorney might file a lawsuit against the shipping firm. If the truck had hazardous materials that led to your injuries, the shipper also could be held responsible.
Who Else Can You Sue in a Commercial Trucking Accident?
In addition to the trucker, the trucking company, and the shipping company, these entities could be held responsible in an accident:
The Insurance Company
Federal law requires every trucking company to carry a minimum level of liability insurance much higher than for regular vehicles. The insurance is critical when the trucking firm is sued for damages in a personal injury lawsuit. The trucking firm’s insurance company may be sued directly for damages after a severe trucking accident.
Defective Part Manufacturer
The trucking company is liable for maintaining its rigs, but the part manufacturer also may be responsible if a part defect caused the crash. This case would fall under product liability law. The part manufacturer may be held strictly liable for damages. Some of the most common product liability lawsuits regarding big trucks are for the following:
- Steering failure
- Brake failure
- Defective trailer hitches
- Defective tires
Some tractor-trailer drivers are independent contractors. They own their trucks and lease their services to various trucking companies. In this situation, the truck owner may be responsible for an accident involving their rig.
Anyone who has been hurt in a commercial trucking accident may wish to speak to a personal injury attorney to see if they have a strong case.
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