Who Is Liable For Truck Accidents? (What Every Driver Should Know)
In 2018, more than 4,000 people were injured or killed in truck collisions on U.S. streets and highways. If you or someone you love is injured in a truck crash in Texas, you may be able to win compensation and related damages with the help of an Edinburg truck accident attorney.
Truck accidents are a serious concern in Texas. In 2017, truck accidents in this state resulted in 649 fatalities – more than any other state that year – and several thousand serious injuries.
A truck can weigh forty tons, while an automobile weighs about two tons, so if you’re in a crash with a large commercial truck, you’re almost certain to be injured. Of course, any crash can be catastrophic, but statistically, commercial truck collisions result in the most serious injuries.
Why Is Determining Liability So Important After A Truck Accident?
Negligent truck drivers cause a number of truck accidents, but in many truck collisions, the drivers aren’t the ones who are negligent. Keep reading, and you’ll learn why determining liability in a truck accident is so vital for anyone who’s been injured in one of these collisions.
When a truck is not maintained properly and loaded properly, if a truck or a truck part is defective, or if the highway or street where a crash happens has been maintained or constructed negligently, and you are the injury victim, a party other than the truck driver may be liable.
A good Texas attorney working on an injury victim’s behalf will uncover all potential compensation sources, hold those who are guilty accountable, and fight to obtain the maximum available compensation amount for the victim.
If you file an injury claim after sustaining a personal injury or injuries in a truck accident, your attorney will determine if liability extends beyond the truck driver and his or her employer.
Which Parties May Have Liability For A Truck Accident?
So how is liability determined after a truck accident? Truck manufacturers, contractors, subcontractors, freight companies, leasing companies, and parts manufacturers may or may not share liability for any particular accident.
Truck and leasing companies may fight among themselves over liability for a truck accident. If a truck company claims that an accident was caused by defective brakes, the brake manufacturer may in turn blame the leasing company for failing to maintain the brakes in good working order.
Under the legal principle of “vicarious liability,” a trucking company may be liable for a driver’s negligence, provided that the negligence was unintentional and occurred within the “course and scope” of the driver’s work duties.
What If A Truck Driver Is An Independent Contractor?
However, if a driver has his or her own truck and liability insurance and is paid only for services rendered, the driver is probably an independent contractor. When a truck driver is an independent contractor, vicarious liability may not apply, and the employer may not be liable for accidents.
But even if the truck driver who injures you is an independent contractor, the right personal injury attorney may be able to find other liable parties and other sources of compensation.
When Are Other Parties Liable For Truck Accidents?
Manufacturers, for example, are liable when defective vehicles, vehicle parts, or vehicle designs lead to accidents and injuries. Product liability claims arising from truck accidents have involved airbag malfunctions, defective door latches, brake malfunctions, defective tires, and rollovers.
Government agencies and their contractors may be liable for truck collisions caused by highway designs that are flawed, by negligent road construction, or by any failure to maintain roads and road conditions that are reasonably safe.
After an accident, a good injury attorney will review what happened, determine which parties are liable, and hold those parties accountable. When defective parts or hazardous road conditions are the reasons for a collision, the case can get complicated, and a good lawyer’s help is imperative.
How Much Compensation Will Truck Accident Survivors Need?
The survivors of car-truck accidents often suffer catastrophic injuries: severe spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries; multiple contusions and fractures; and injuries requiring amputation.
If you’ve suffered a traumatic brain injury or a spinal cord injury, or if you’ve lost part of your body to amputation due to the negligence of a truck driver, you will need the maximum available compensation for long-term care.
How Will A Truck Accident Lawyer Help You?
After a truck accident, do not communicate with the driver who injured you, that driver’s employer or lawyer, an insurance adjuster, or with any other lawyer or insurance company representative. Let your own injury attorney do all of the negotiating and talking instead.
Don’t let an insurance adjuster or insurance company decide what healthcare treatment you receive. Decisions about treatment should be made exclusively by you and your own doctor.
This is vitally important: Do not agree to any settlement without first consulting an Edinburg truck accident attorney. Auto insurance companies sometimes offer quick settlement amounts for a sum that’s substantially less than the real value of your injury claim.
How Can You Reduce The Chances Of A Truck Accident?
Truck accidents tend to make us think about interstate highways, but only about thirty percent of truck accidents happen on the interstates. The best driving strategy is to keep as much distance as possible between a big truck and the vehicle you are driving.
If you must pass a truck while you’re on the highway, do it as quickly as possible while staying safe. And be extra cautious when you see a truck about to turn. Here’s why.
When turning right, a truck driver must first swing to the left. Do not move into the space that’s created when this happens, because the truck will move back to the right, and you’ll be trapped – and possibly crushed. The same rule applies in reverse on a truck’s left side.
You Must Have Personalized Legal Advice
Only a brief discussion of truck collisions and liability is possible here. Because every accident is different, if you or your loved one is injured in a truck accident in south Texas, you’ll need specific, personalized advice about your options and rights as an injured victim of negligence.
If you choose to pursue a personal injury claim after a truck accident, the right personal injury lawyer will negotiate an acceptable out-of-court settlement, or if that’s not possible, your lawyer can take the case to trial and ask a jury to order the payment of the compensation you need.
If you are injured in a truck crash in Texas, seek medical attention first, then put your case in the hands of a good Texas personal injury lawyer. If you’ve been injured by negligence, the law in Texas will be on your side.
By Chris Brasure
Brasure Law Firm, PLLC was founded by Chris Brasure in 2006. His legal accomplishments are diverse and numerous. He is a fellow with the Texas Bar Foundation, was a delegate in the American Bar Association House of Delegates and holds a BA in political science and speech communication from Baylor University. He then went on to obtain his law degree from Baylor University Law School. Chris believes that education is absolutely critical to one’s success, so his firm now offers The Brasure Law Firm Scholarship to give back to the community and to help students who are seeking to pursue a higher education.