Determining who is at fault in any kind of traffic accident can be difficult. There are often rules or guidelines that tell motorists how they are supposed to drive. However, not all of these rules apply in every situation. Also, there are other ways for individuals to become liable for an accident, even if they were not driving. So, who do you sue in truck accident cases?
Not all violations are obvious
In the best cases, a violation of a traffic rule will be obvious, and the cause of the accident clear; like when a driver runs a stop sign and crashes into someone else. But in many cases, including trucking accidents, the violation may be less obvious.
If you are the victim of a trucking accident, figuring out who is responsible for your injuries can be complex. There are often many different people or companies that could be liable. In every truck accident case, you should consider the possible liability of the following:
- the driver of the truck
- the owner of the truck or trailer
- the person or company that leased the truck or trailer from the owner
- the manufacturer of the truck, tires, or other equipment that may have caused the accident, or made it more severe, and
- the shipper or freight loader, when injuries were caused by truck’s cargo.
Consulting with a personal injury attorney, who is experienced in truck accident cases, is your best option.
Can Trucking Companies Avoid Liability?
Many trucking companies have tried to avoid liability by distancing themselves from either the driver, the vehicle or of the equipment. If the company only obtains the permits necessary to operate the truck, it does not need to own the tractor, trailer, or hauling equipment. Those things are leased from someone else. Also, the trucking company will not directly hire drivers as employees, but simply employ them as independent contractors.
This way, if the truck is involved in an accident, the trucking company will argue that the driver was not an employee, so the company cannot be held liable. It can also argue that, since it does not own any of the equipment, it is not responsible for inspection, maintenance or repair of that equipment.
Federal laws and regulations change who you can sue in truck accident cases
In the face of these unfair defenses, federal laws and regulations were created that make it nearly impossible for trucking companies to avoid liability in that way. Under current federal law, any company owning a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has the company’s name displayed. This is true regardless of what the lease may say, or whether the driver is an independent contractor.
If you have questions regarding trucking accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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