In an automobile accident, determining who should be sued is not usually that difficult. There is the at-fault driver and possibly the owner of the vehicle, if it is not the same person. Unless there are manufacturing issues with the vehicles, the case is pretty straightforward. The same is not true in truck accidents. That’s because trucking accidents involve more than just the drivers. An experienced trucking accident attorney will be able to help you determine who should be sued and what the basis of liability would be.
Truck drivers and their employers
There are many more potential parties and relationships involved in truck accidents. As with car accidents, the driver’s employer may be at fault. However, determining who the driver works for and the actual legal relationship between the two will be critical in understanding who is liable for your injuries. Truck drivers can be employed as company drivers.
On the other hand, they may be owners or operators who are leased to a motor carrier, for a specific trip or for a certain period of time. There may also be third-party brokers involved. Relationships, responsibility, and liability can all be different depending on many factors. Drivers can be employed as company drivers, but they can also be owner/operators who are leased on to a motor carrier either for a specific trip or for a specific period of time and either directly or through some third party broker.
Owner of the 18 wheeler truck
Ownership of the equipment creates another level of liability. There are different parties and relationships relating to the truck and equipment itself. A tractor and the trailer that is attached, are considered separate commercial motor vehicles. There may also be leases or subleases involving the tractor, the trailer, or both. Determining the party responsible for maintenance and inspection of the vehicles, is the first step in establishing liability.
Parties related to the cargo
In addition to the drivers, truck companies, and equipment owners, there are many other players that may share the responsibility for injuries in a trucking accident. Many of these parties are related to the cargo being carried by the truck. They include shippers, loaders, brokers, and many others. Under specific circumstances, each of these parties may have specific duties, which, if not fulfilled, can result in liability.
Parties responsible for safety and maintenance of the truck
Finally, there are other parties that may be involved in a commercial vehicle case, due to lack of required safety measures of failure to perform maintenance. These entities can include third-party maintenance and repair companies, safety compliance companies, and insurance companies. Although duties required under trucking safety regulations are non-delegable, there are still some parties that may have independent liability under the circumstances.