A truck accident, unlike other vehicle accidents, is more complicated. It often gets difficult for the victim to identify the at-fault party and the causes of the accident. Contrary to common perception, more than one defendant is involved in the bigger picture of the crime and the word‘defendant’ is not limited to the truck driver but the truck company, contractor and even the insurance company can be legally held responsible in such cases.
Understanding the common causes of the trucking accidents as well as the relationships among the entities and persons connected to the vehicle, load and trailer will help the victim figure out if the plaintiff has a valid compensation claim for his/her injury resulting from the truck accident. Also talk to an experienced truck accident attorney from Oregon based law firm, Johnston Law Firm, to discuss your points and problems.
Truck Accident Laws
Though large truck accidents comprise only 3% of motor vehicle accidents that cause injuries, truck accidents lead to greater damages than other traffic accidents. This is because, the trucks are large in size.
The trucking industry is governed by Federal Laws and Regulations. These laws have set certain standards that must be met by the trucking companies, truck owners and truck drivers. If an accident takes place, these rules and regulations determine who is legally liable for the accident.
Agencies regulating truck driving include the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Every state in the US has its own department of transportation and a separate set of trucking regulations.
Who is Liable?
Several players can be held liable for the victim’s injury and suffering caused by a truck accident. These include
- The truck company
- The truck or trailer owner
- The truck driver
- The contractor who leases the trailer or truck from the vehicle owner
- The manufacturer of the truck, tires or other parts that may have caused the accident
- The loader or shipper of the truck’s cargo
The trucking, leasing and hauling companies often get engaged into argument over whose insurance provider will compensate the plaintiff.
How Tucking Companies Avoid Legal Responsibility?
The past records clearly show that the trucking companies tried to dodge their legal responsibility for truck accidents by distancing themselves from the driver, vehicle and the equipment manufacturer.
If the truck gets involved in an accident and a lawsuit is filed against the trucking company, it may put arguments that:
- The driver was not appointed by the trucking company and therefore, the company is not liable for whatever has happened to the victim.
- The trucking company owns no equipment of the truck and therefore, cannot be held liable for the operation, repair, inspection and maintenance of the equipment.
Fortunately, Federal Laws and Regulations have left no room for such arguments. According to the current Federal Law, any company that owns a trucking permit is legally liable for all trucking accidents involving the vehicle that carries the company’s placard or its name is displayed on the truck. If the driver is an independent contractor or an employee or what the lease mentions about the truck owner/operator is not relevant in this context.