Who Can You Sue after a Trucking Accident?
In 2014, there were nearly 4,000 fatalities and more than 110,000 injuries resulting from crashes involving a large truck, and more than 70 percent of fatalities and injuries in those crashes were occupants of passenger vehicles. If you or a loved one has suffered because of a crash with a large truck, you may be considering a lawsuit. There multiple ways of pursuing damages in a personal injury case involving a trucking company.
With a car accident, it’s typically the driver who is sued. However, with a large truck accident, there may be other options for your case, which can quickly create a complex legal situation.
Specifically, there may be up to three different parties who could be liable in a collision involving a single truck:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- The manufacturer of the truck part that caused the accident
In the next sections, we’ll explore how each party can be liable for injuries in a truck crash and how it might impact your legal case.
Party #1: Suing the Truck Driver
The truck’s driver is often the first party that victims look to when it comes to a lawsuit. There are lots of ways that truck driver negligence can contribute to a crash; for example, the driver might not have completed required training or certifications, might have failed to disclose a medical issue, or might have been driving recklessly, which can include speeding, driving while fatigued, or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Among many other state and federal regulations, truck drivers are required to keep driving records and are limited to certain numbers of hours of driving and miles on the road per week for safety reasons. If a driver has not complied with these regulations or has tried to falsify records to this effect, he or she might be liable for the crash.
Party #2: Suing the Trucking Company
While the driver may be at fault for the crash itself, the trucking company may also be liable because he or she is in their employ and doing business at the time of the crash. Trucking companies, like most employers, are responsible for the negligent actions of their employees while on the job if the company’s own behavior contributed to the crash. Trucking company behaviors that might lead to liability can include poor hiring practices (such as failing to perform requisite background checks or otherwise comply with regulations), administering insufficient or poor training, or failing to keep up adequate maintenance on the truck in question.
Additionally, trucking companies are responsible for ensuring that their drivers comply with hours-of-service regulations, and if they fail to do so and a driver causes a crash as a result, they may be liable for any injuries that follow.
Not only do trucking companies sometimes fail to make sure their drivers comply with these regulations, but some unscrupulous companies even actively pressure their employees to break hours-of-service regulations and falsify logs in order to speed up transit times and carve out extra profits.
Party #3: Suing the Truck or Truck Part Manufacturer
When mechanical failures in the truck lead to a crash, trucking companies and their maintenance practices aren’t the only potential source of liability. Truck manufacturers themselves may be liable if the parts in question contained a defect that the manufacturer knew about or should have known about. These defects can be introduced at any step of a truck’s creation, from the design process to manufacturing and assembly.
Manufacturers whose negligence can play a role in a truck crash aren’t limited to the big-name companies that put their names on truck hood ornaments, either. A big rig truck has thousands of complex parts that can fail and cause an accident, including the vehicle’s tires, steering and braking systems, and coupling devices. The companies that manufacture any of these individual parts may be held responsible under the law if their component contained a defect that the company should have caught or failed to disclose.
Hossley & Embry: Attorneys for Trucking Accident Victims Nationwide
After a devastating truck crash, it isn’t easy determining who should be sued or even if a lawsuit is the right choice. Before you can make an informed decision about your legal options, you need to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Our expert legal team at Hossley & Embrey has years of experience handling personal injury cases, and we can help you understand your options and guide you through the complex process of a trucking accident claim if you decide to pursue litigation.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck crash, please call (866) 522-9265 or fill out our convenient online contact form to set up your free consultation. We have the resources available, including charter aircraft, to travel throughout Texas and the United States on short notice to investigate your potential claim.
National Center for Statistics and Analysis. (2016, May). Large trucks: 2014 data. Traffic Safety Facts. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Report No. DOT HS 812 279). Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812279.