Commercial trucking accidents are often more likely to involve serious injuries and fatalities than passenger vehicle accidents due to the substantial size and weight of the truck. Truck accident victims may be entitled to damages from the parties responsible for their injuries and damages. Several parties may be at fault for a trucking accident including:
- The truck driver.
- The trucking company who employs the driver.
- The truck owner.
- Shipping companies.
Operating a commercial vehicle requires a great deal of training, skill, and caution. Negligent truck drivers who do not abide by federal regulations and state traffic laws when operating their commercial trucks may be liable for an accident. Common forms of truck driver negligence include:
- Driving too many hours continuously.
- Using a cell phone while driving.
- Driving while fatigued.
- Driving while intoxicated.
- Failing to allow enough time to stop.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) regulations, truck drivers are considered employees of the trucking company, and are not considered independent contractors. As a result, under the doctrine of respondeat superior, a trucking company may be held vicariously liable for their truck driver’s negligence.
Trucking companies can also be held liable for negligently:
- Failing to conduct proper employee background checks prior to hiring them.
- Failing to hire qualified drivers.
- Failing to make sure drivers received the required training and obtained the necessary licensure to operate a commercial vehicle.
- Failing to properly inspect company trucks.
- Encouraging drivers to forego breaks, in violation of FMSCA regulations.
The trucking company that employs the driver does not own the truck involved in the accident. In such cases, an owner may be liable for:
- Failing to properly inspect the truck.
- Failing to perform necessary maintenance.
- Failing to ensure the truck met all safety standards before driver drove it on the road.
- Allowing negligent driver to operate the truck.
Shipping and hauling companies are often responsible for making sure the cargo is loaded and unloaded in accordance with all safety regulations. A shipping company may be liable for:
- Failing to properly secure the cargo.
- Exceeding truck weight limits.
- Uneven distribution of the weight of the cargo.
- Failing to properly load hazardous substances.
Truck accident victims may recover damages from several parties responsible for their accident by filing a personal injury claim. Victims may recover compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.