Although you may think that a truck driver would be liable for a truck accident, the accident may not be a direct result of their negligence. There is a chance that other parties could be at-fault for the accident, whether directly or indirectly. Truck accident liability falls on the negligent party that contributed to the accident and injuries.
Truck accident cases can be difficult to navigate on your own because the trucks are typically owned and driven by commercial companies. They generally have good insurance policies and strong representation to protect them in cases like these. That’s why, if you’re the victim of a commercial truck accident, it’s important to work with an experienced Ohio or Northern Kentucky truck accident lawyer like those at TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm to ensure that all liable parties are held accountable. In this blog post, our legal team at TLF will cover the many parties who might hold responsibility in a commercial truck wreck as well as the factors that may contribute to such an accident.
Determining Liability in a Trucking Accident
When it comes to accidents involving a commercial truck, it is generally necessary for the injured party to work with an experienced truck accident attorney to prove fault. There may be some cases where responsibility is obvious, but in other cases, there could be multiple parties responsible for causing the accident, which makes proving the at fault parties challenging.
Kentucky and Ohio both have comparative negligence laws, meaning that the accident will be reviewed by a jury or judge and each driver will be assigned a portion of fault. These portions range from zero to 100. If you are found to be at fault 49 percent or less, you do not have majority liability and may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries, property damage, and lost wages. If you are found to be mostly liable, then that will nullify you receiving compensation.
Factors That Often Contribute to Truck Accidents
Although commercial truck accidents are less common than any other motor vehicle accident, they are more inclined to result in serious or fatal injuries. It is important to know and recognize the major causes of trucking accidents in order to keep yourself safe on the road. Some of the most common factors that contribute to truck accidents include:
Distracted or Inattentive Driving
The vast majority of road collisions are a result of distracted driving or inattention, this includes cell phone usage. However, truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road and should be very attentive to other vehicles, their surroundings, and road conditions.
When a truck driver incorrectly believes they can fit their semi truck under a bridge or overpass, it can result in significant damage to bridges and infrastructure. The height of commercial vehicles over 10,000 lbs can make them more difficult to maneuver than standard passenger vehicles.
Poorly Loaded Cargo
Cargo loaders must ensure that when trucks are loaded with cargo that they do not exceed a certain weight, along with loading the cargo properly and securely. Failure to load cargo correctly can result in cargo spilling out onto the road, the weight of the cargo shifting inside the truck, and the truck driver losing control.
Alcohol or Drugs
When truck drivers become fatigued while on the road, they may look to substances like drugs and alcohol to fight the fatigue. Impairment along with large vehicles is often a disastrous mix. Driving under the influence can cause the reflexes of truck drivers to be delayed while on the road.
Truck drivers must take extra care in operating their vehicles at safe speeds because commercial trucks are heavier and more difficult to maneuver than traditional passenger cars. Obeying traffic laws like speed limits and reducing speed in poor visibility or heavy traffic is especially important to help prevent trucking accidents.
Aggressive or Reckless Driving
Driving aggressively or recklessly can place truck drivers as well as other drivers at risk of severe injury. Common types of reckless driving include improper passing, tailgating, ignoring traffic signs, weaving through traffic, and failing to yield.
Fatigue and Falling Asleep
While there are federal regulations in place to limit the amount of time a truck driver can spend behind the wheel, driving for hours at a time can still cause drivers to become fatigued. An accident may occur whether the driver falls asleep behind the wheel or maybe just isn’t giving the road or other vehicles their full attention.
Another common contributor to truck accidents is mechanical failure or auto part defects. This includes things such as faulty brakes, tire blowout, and transmission issues. All of these can prove to be deadly for anyone involved in the accident.
Poor weather conditions or unsafe road conditions can cause truck drivers to lose control of their vehicles. This is especially true because of the massive size and weight of a commercial truck compared to a typical passenger vehicle.
Who Can Be Held Liable for Commercial Truck Accidents?
As with all accidents, liability is based on proof of negligence or recklessness of an involved party in the accident that either caused or contributed to the accident and your injuries. Trucking accidents with multiple liable parties are more complex than those with just one liable party.
Truck Driver Liability
If injuries and the accident were a result of a truck driver’s negligent actions and driving, including speeding or distracted driving, then the truck driver will be held liable for the accident.
Truck Owner Liability
Instead of being part of a large trucking company, a truck can be a part of a very small fleet. When this is the case, there may be one person who owns the truck in question and could be liable if there was a malfunction or if they were aware of their driver’s negligence.
A truck driver’s employer may be liable for the activities of its employed truck drivers and for the safety of trucks and cargo they put on the road. Trucking companies are required to perform regular maintenance on their trucks to keep them in safe operating condition.
Vehicle Parts Manufacturer Liability
The part manufacturer can also be held liable for the accident if it is the result of a malfunction or defective part. Faulty brakes or steering mechanisms can be traced back to the manufacturer in a personal injury case that involves a commercial truck.
Shipping Company or Cargo Loader Liability
When a truck driver arrives at a shipping facility, someone else has the responsibility of ensuring the freight is loaded properly and secured. If the truck loses control and causes an accident as the result of an error on the shipper’s part, the shipping company could be held liable.
What if Multiple Parties Caused the Truck Accident?
A combination of factors such as a truck driver speeding, the trailer he or she was hauling being overloaded, and the truck brakes requiring replacement could mean that liability may be split among multiple parties. This is merely an example, but often, there are multiple factors involved that contribute to commercial truck accidents and therefore, multiple parties that may hold accountability.
How an Ohio or Northern Kentucky Truck Accident Attorney From TLF Can Help Build Your Case
When faced with a truck accident claim, it’s likely that the responsible party’s insurance company will deny liability to avoid paying. Luckily, an experienced truck accident lawyer from TLF: The Medical Injury Law Firm can provide the legal assistance you need and fight back on your behalf. If you or someone you love has been a victim of a semi-truck accident in Northern Kentucky or Ohio, call an Ohio or Northern Kentucky personal injury lawyer at our firm today at (800) 698-4054 toll-free for a free consultation to evaluate your case. You can also contact our Northern Kentucky office at (859) 578-9130, our Ohio office at (513) 651-4130, or by completing our online intake form today.