Who Is Liable In A Trucking Accident?
Being involved in a crash with a truck can be a terrifying experience. It can also be a deadly one.
There were 5,745 injuries as a result of truck crashes in Florida in 2013, according to Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles data. An additional 200 incidents ended in death, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Nationally, there were 3,806 fatal crashes involving at least one large truck or bus in 2013, the latest data available, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This number accounts for 12.7 percent of all total fatal crashes that year. There were an additional 385,000 non-fatal crashes that involved at least one large truck or bus, according to FMCSA. These truck-related crashes are 6.8 percent of all total crashes in 2013, according to FMCSA.
If you are involved in a collision with a truck in Clearwater, you may be wondering who is liable. Commercial trucks and their drivers add a different element to a personal injury lawsuit, but it’s certainly still possible to recover damages from an at-fault driver and his or her company if the crash caused you or your passengers injuries.
This added element, however, does complicate things a bit, and it is wise to contact a lawyer experienced in these types of cases to assist you through the process.
Who Is Held Responsible In A Truck Accident?
Federal law typically governs trucking accidents on the roadway, which can be viewed in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations. States also have a set of rules — the Florida Department of Transportation has a helpful Q&A on state rules regarding commercial trucks here.
In the event of a crash involving a truck, there are a number of parties who may be liable for any injuries sustained, including the:
- Truck driver;
- Owner of the truck;
- Manufacturer of the vehicle or its parts, including tires;
- Person or business that rented or leased the truck; and/or
- Entity that loaded the truck’s cargo.
In some instances, a truck company will attempt to sidestep liability by trying to pin the blame entirely on the driver. This can be done by hiring drivers not as employees, but as independent contractors of the company. It can also be done because companies typically rent or lease the trucking equipment, so they are not the sole owners of the vehicles. The truck companies, in turn, would argue in court in the event of a personal injury lawsuit that:
- The driver is not a direct employee of the company and is thus not responsible, and/or;
- The equipment is not owned by the company and is thus not responsible for the inspection or maintenance of it.
At this point, federal regulations have shored up these previous gaps in liability. Under current law, a company may be held liable for an accident if its name is displayed in or on the vehicle.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Some of the more common causes for this type of crash include:
- Truck driver negligence;
- Improper driver training by the employer;
- Negligent driver hiring by the employer;
- Improper or inadequate maintenance and/or inspection of the truck;
- Oversized trucks; and
- Defective vehicle parts.
Involved In A Trucking Accident?
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident on the Florida roadways, don’t hesitate to reach out to an attorney. The legal professionals at Roman & Roman in Clearwater are prepared to assist you with your case immediately.