Liability & Commercial Truck Accidents: Who Covers Victims’ Damages?
Trucks, tractor-trailers, and other commercial vehicles that transport goods and products use our public roads and highways on a daily basis. Because they’re much larger, heavier, and slower vehicles than passenger cars, pickup trucks, and motorcycles, they also pose innumerable risks to those around them, including the threat of catastrophic injuries or death when vulnerable motorists are involved in trucking accidents. To manage these risks and protect the rights of accident victims, the federal government and states across the country enforce a number of laws and safety regulations.
At Shrager & Sachs, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers know the regulations governing truck and commercial vehicle safety, as well as the laws and legal standards that apply to personal injury cases involving victims who suffer harm in preventable truck accidents. In fact, our legal team has extensive experience representing victims of commercial trucking accidents, and Partner Rob Sachs has shared his insight on litigating these cases at public speaking engagements and legal seminars across the country.
While we have the experience and insight to help clients determine who’s at fault for their damages – including losses created by their medical expenses, pain and suffering, and missed income – we know many victims find the concept of fault and liability confusing – especially when trucking accidents have numerous potential causes, and numerous parties that may be to blame. Below, we discuss a few of the parties commonly held accountable in truck accident cases:
- Commercial Driver – The majority of auto accidents are caused by driver negligence and error. Should the driver of a commercial vehicle commit traffic infractions (i.e. running a red light, unsafe lane changes, etc.), violate safety regulations (including stricter laws regarding driving under the influence), or otherwise act negligently, they can potentially be held liable for any accidents and injuries they cause as a result.
- Trucking Operator – While commercial drivers often commit errors or acts of negligence that make them accountable for truck accidents, it is often the trucking companies for whom they work that are held financially liable in personal injury cases. In addition to being held liable for the conduct of their drivers, trucking operators can also be held accountable when their own actions lead to preventable wrecks. This can include negligent hiring or supervision of unfit drivers and other employees, as well as violations that increase accident risks, such as cargo securement violations, failures to adequately maintain vehicles, and more.
- Third Party Companies – Commercial trucking involves a lot of moving parts, which means third parties and contractors may be involved in operations involving tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles. These may include maintenance companies contracted to keep commercial trucks properly maintained and inspected per federal regulations, or distributors that load and unload vehicles. Should these parties act negligently or commit violations, they too may be held liable (in part or in addition to the trucking company) when victims suffer harm in accidents that could and should have been prevented.
- Automakers / Product Manufacturers – Not all truck wrecks stem from acts of negligence involving drivers, trucking companies, or others involving in the day-to-day operations of commercial vehicles. Some are caused by inherently unsafe and defective products, including auto parts such as tires or brakes. Under product liability laws, manufacturers of defective auto parts and consumer products can be held liable for damages victims suffer.
Because every case is different, determining who caused your truck accident, injuries, and damages will always be a matter that demands individualized attention and investigation. Our legal team at Shrager & Sachs has the resources to conduct appropriate investigations into the underlying cause of a trucking wreck, the knowledge of federal laws needed to identify when violations occur, and the insight to effectively hold at-fault parties accountable.
If you wish to discuss a recent accident involving any type of tractor-trailer or commercial vehicle, contact us today for a free consultation.