If you are a victim of a trucking accident, naturally your primary concern and focus are to recover from your injuries. But you may also be wondering about other things like: who is responsible for the accident? What actually caused the accident? With trucking accidents, the answer to these two questions are often more complicated than they are for a simple traffic accident. Further, there are often more players involved than as compared to a car accident. This article will discuss the various parties who are likely responsible for a trucking accident.
Understanding the common reasons for trucking accidents and how these reasons relate to the persons and entities that are connected to the truck, the trailer and the load is of great importance. Establishing the reasons for your accident will help you determine whether you have a valid claim and how you should present your case.
It should be noted that over the past two decades the number of truck accidents has increased by 20%. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2002, 4,897 individuals died and 130,000 people were injured in accidents that involved a large truck. While large trucks are responsible for only 3% of injury-causing motor vehicle accidents, trucking accidents generally cause much greater harm than ordinary traffic accidents as a result of their large size and heavy weight.
There are a number of federal laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry. These laws provide certain standards that trucking companies, owners and drivers must meet and they often determine who is responsible for a trucking accident. The majority of federal regulations that deal with the trucking industry can be found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The agencies that regulate truck driving include the U. S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Further, each state has a Department of Transportation with its own set of trucking regulations.
When it comes to determining who is responsible for a trucking accident, there are a number of players who, while in the background, may be held responsible for the victims’ injuries. Such persons include:
The truck’s driver
The owner of the truck or trailer
The person or company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner
The manufacturer of the vehicle, tires and other parts that may have contributed to the cause or severity of the accident
The shipper or loader of the truck's cargo, where cases involve improper loading
In the past and today still, trucking companies try very hard to avoid liability for trucking accidents, by distancing themselves from the driver, the vehicle and the equipment. They do this by limiting what they do to only obtaining the permits necessary to operate the truck, but they won’t take ownership of the tractor, trailer or equipment used to haul the goods. To further distance themselves, the trucking company may not directly employ the driver, but may instead hire them as an independent contractor. In the wake of an accident when the trucking company is sued, it then argues that the driver was not employed by the trucking company and the company does not own the equipment, therefore, they are not liable.
To find who is liable for your injuries seek out bodily injury lawyers for assistance.