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When Is the Shipping Company Liable for Truck Accidents?

By December 29, 2022March 28th, 2023No Comments

Truck accidents are common and can cause extreme damage due to the truck’s heavy weight and massive size. Some laws regulate truck accidents in California to legally resolve accident claims. If a truck accident injures you, you have a right to seek justice for your injuries and losses. Seek the help of a professional truck accident attorney to guide you through the legal process. Sometimes, you may wonder what circumstances render a shipping company liable after a truck accident. This article explains when a shipping company is responsible and what you can do about it. Reach out to a truck accident attorney today.

Who Should Take Responsibility in a Truck Accident?

When Is the Shipping Company Liable for Truck Accidents?When a car accident occurs, the accountable party is often evident. Determining accountability is straightforward when passenger cars are involved because the affected people usually own the vehicles and the insurance.

However, identifying who is liable in a truck accident can be complex because of the several parties involved. Semi-trailer truck drivers, for instance, do not own the trucks but are employed to drive them. In addition, multiple entities manage the safety, operation, and truck maintenance, which makes it hard to place liability in case of an accident.

You can hold several entities liable in a truck accident, even those who were not physically present during the collision.

Based on the circumstances surrounding your accident, you can hold the following people liable:

  • The truck driver
  • The truck driver’s employer/trucking company
  • Shipping companies involved
  • The truck’s loading services
  • The truck parts manufacturer

Federal regulations govern the trucking industry, such as truck maintenance requirements and registered hours. Therefore, determining liability and acquiring strong evidence supporting your case can be tough. Seek the assistance of a professional attorney with experience as a truck accident lawyer in commercial truck accident cases.

What Causes of Truck Accidents and How Can a Driver be Liable?

When determining truck accident liability, the truck driver is usually the first to blame and take accountability. Despite extensive training and a commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirement, truck drivers can still make mistakes.

One of the most common causes of truck accidents is truck driver error, which can result from various factors. Some causes of truck driver error may signify another liable party in a truck accident.

You can hold a truck driver responsible for an accident for:

  • Driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Driver fatigue
  • Disability or medical condition that made the driver unfit to drive
  • Reckless driving, such as using a cell phone or eating while driving
  • Failing to consider possible road risks or changing road conditions
  • Failure to adhere to the FMCSA regulations
  • Dangerous driving, such as speeding
  • Failure to obey traffic lights, such as red lights and stop signs
  • Reckless speeding in road construction areas

When Can You Hold the Shipping Company Responsible?

Truck accidents can result in life-changing injuries such as amputation, organ damage, paralysis, internal bleeding, or death. Victims of truck accidents can spend a long time in the hospital and may require multiple surgeries, therapy sessions, and other forms of treatment. In addition, truck accidents may render victims jobless, cause them to have depression, accumulate debt, and suffer other setbacks. An individual or entity must be liable for the victims to get compensation.

The shipper verifies the truck driver’s or trucking company’s registration, safety details, licensing, and insurance details. These responsibilities mean that the shipper may be liable in a truck accident case due to various factors, including:

Failing to Follow the Law

Trucking companies must follow state and federal regulations. They must refrain from pressuring truck drivers to violate the FMCSA’s hours of service guidelines. This rule clearly outlines the hours a trucker can work before they must take time off to rest. Trucking companies intentionally jeopardize drivers’ lives and the public by disregarding this rule. The trucking company is liable if an accident occurs due to breaking these regulations.

Shipping companies must hire truck drivers and ensure that the drivers are competent and professional. These companies conduct background checks on each driver, offer truck driving training, and regularly test drivers for substance abuse. Regulations direct that truck drivers must be properly supervised and subjected to disciplinary measures in case of violations.

However, some trucking or shipping companies fail to meet these regulatory standards. Some companies focus more on making profits than on public safety, thus allowing truck drivers to operate long distances until they are fatigued.

Hiring Unprofessional Drivers

Trucking companies could be liable for hiring unprofessional truck drivers if they failed to conduct proper background checks on the drivers before hiring them. In addition, failure by the companies to provide adequate supervisor training may make them accountable for a truck accident.

Truck driver fatigue is the leading cause of truck accidents, and the truck’s parent company can be liable for these accidents. The company must care for the wellness of every employee, and drivers should rest enough to avoid fatigue.

Failing to Ensure the Safety of Their Trucks

Federal regulations govern truck maintenance because a poorly maintained tractor-trailer or big rig can be very dangerous on the road.

Maintaining these vehicles keeps them safe from worn-out tires, faulty brakes, and other complications that can lead to truck accidents. These companies are also responsible for ensuring that trucks receive necessary repairs. Failure to uphold these responsibilities makes a company liable for a truck accident.

Most truck drivers do not perform any maintenance on the vehicles they drive. Instead, a maintenance team is frequently in charge of repairing and replacing parts on all of the company’s trucks. If the trucking company owns its trucks, it is responsible for routine truck maintenance. This enables the company to detect and address problems like bald tires or worn-out brake pads before they cause serious accidents.

A trucking company that leases trucks from a different company does not have to provide maintenance because truck maintenance is the truck owners’ responsibility. However, if the owner company fails in proper truck maintenance, it can be liable if its trucks are involved in a collision. Truck owners should ensure their trucks are well-serviced before undertaking any shipping trip.

Truck Loading Can Cause a Shipper to Be Liable

Regarding truck loading, a shipping company can be accountable for an accident. For example, if the truck shipper participates in the loading process and the load falls off, causing a truck accident, the shipping company might be responsible. In light of the above, the shipper should inspect the load before leaving for its destination to avoid liability if an accident occurs.

Are Shipping Companies Responsible for Contractors Involved in a Truck Accident?

In most cases, a company is not liable for the negligence of its independent contractors. However, if the shipping company hires an unfit independent contractor to transport its goods, that shipping company may be liable because of the negligent hiring of the incompetent contractor.

For instance, if a contractor hires a truck and its driver to transport construction materials from a nearby wholesaler, they must follow hiring and leasing regulations. Nevertheless, the contractor in this scenario knows that this truck driver operates old and unroadworthy trucks but proceeds to hire him.

The contractor considers that the construction materials are moving a very short distance to the construction site. However, during the transportation, the truck driver loses control of the old brakes in the truck, runs into several vehicles in its lane, and kills two pedestrians. Because the contractor chose cheap truck services, they are liable for the negligent hiring of an unfit truck and driver.


When Are Truck Parts Manufacturers Liable in a Truck Accident?

When establishing the entities liable in a truck accident, no personal injury claim should completely disregard the possibility that a truck parts manufacturer may be partially responsible.

Every year, trucks with defective and unrepaired parts significantly contribute to numerous truck accidents, just as they do in other types of car accidents. A minor commercial vehicle design flaw can cause a fatal accident.

If you or a loved one got into a truck accident caused by a failed truck part, the company in charge of the truck’s maintenance might be liable. On the other hand, the manufacturer may be responsible if a failed or recalled part caused the accident.

Big trucks are heavy, comprising numerous large and small parts.

These parts commonly fail due to:

  • Defective brakes that can cause front-end collisions
  • Tire flaws, which can result in a blowout
  • Locks that are ineffective and can cause cargo to fall out of the truck
  • Power steering failure
  • Load straps that fail and cause cargo to fall onto the road
  • Cab and trailer coupling systems that cause the truck to jackknife

Defective truck parts can cause accidents. Both the manufacturing and trucking companies are obligated to communicate the existing defaults. They are also responsible for issuing their recalls, observing them, and removing faulty parts. Should either of these companies fail to tackle the defective truck parts accordingly, they may be liable for the accidents caused by those parts.

It is hard to sue a truck manufacturing company successfully, but it is a way to acquire a maximum recovery amount or compensation.

How Are Motor Carriers Assessed?

Before transporting goods, the shipper should check the motor carrier’s safety record.

These factors help assess motor carriers:

  • Checking whether the driver was driving recklessly, exceeded the speed limit, failed to wear a seat belt, and other offenses
  • Check out for defective brakes, lights, tires, and other forms of poor truck maintenance
  • Drivers who cannot meet medical requirements, have incorrect CDL approvals, and have previously been disqualified
  • Violations of the hours of service, driving the truck after it has been placed out of service, logbook violations, and driving while fatigued
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol and other controlled substances or alcohol violations. Substance abuse is one of the major causes of fatalities in road accidents, as 50 percent of drivers killed by road accidents tested positive for drug abuse.

Consult a Professional Attorney for Your Truck Accident Case

Many shippers overlook safety violations or other issues related to a driver’s record to save money on shipping costs. Shipping companies must be held liable for putting people in danger. If you or your loved one is injured in a truck accident, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer to assist you in your case. Shipping companies can be liable for negligence, compensating you for your injuries and losses due to the accident.

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