After your personal injury attorney has thoroughly investigated how the 18 wheeler crash occurred, we will have a better idea of who is responsible for causing the accident. It is common in truck accident claims with the insurance company and civil lawsuits for multiple parties to share liability. Here are some of the parties most frequently sued for truck accident damages
The Trucking Company
You might think the truck driver is the primary at-fault party. However, this is less frequent than you may think. Although truck drivers share liability for many semi truck collisions, which we will discuss below, trucking companies are most frequently at fault. There are several reasons for this.
One of the top causes of commercial truck accidents is drowsy driving. Truck drivers often work long hours and wind up too tired to operate the big rig safely. Unfortunately, they are often pressured into working longer hours than they are physically or legally allowed.
It may surprise you to learn that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented many rules and regulations regarding overseeing commercial truck operations and transportation.
Some of the most notable include work-hour regulations. Here, the FMCSA states that truck drivers can only work a maximum of 15 consecutive hours. They must then have at least eight consecutive hours off before starting a new shift.
Over seven days, truck drivers are only allowed to operate the big rig for a maximum of 70 hours. However, since this means the trucking company would lose money, they often force and encourage their truck drivers to violate these rules and regulations. When they do so, they can contribute to collisions caused by drowsy driving.
It is important to note that violations of hours of service regulations are not the only reason trucking companies are held accountable for 18 wheeler accidents. Trucking companies are also responsible for the actions of their truck drivers.
If they failed to do their due diligence before hiring a truck driver, and it turns out the truck driver has a history of negligence or misconduct, the trucking company could be partially at fault for the victim’s damages. Hiring inexperienced truck drivers, failing to conduct drug testing, and failing to review potential truck driver’s driving records are some of the most common ways trucking companies cause tractor trailer accidents.
Additionally, trucking companies must ensure their big rigs are safe and in good working order. When they fail to conduct unnecessary safety inspections, make repairs, get recalled parts fixed, and retire dangerous 18 wheelers, the trucking company could be ultimately responsible if defective truck parts cause an accident.
Truck drivers are held to a higher standard than other motorists. Most drivers carry a standard Class D driver’s license. However, truckers must have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate an 18 wheeler. Truck drivers use commercial vehicles significantly larger than other vehicles on the roadways.
For this reason, truck drivers are obligated to drive as safely as possible and ensure the truck they are driving is in good working order. When they fail to uphold this obligation, they can be sued for the victim’s damages after a car accident.
For example, it is common knowledge that drunk driving is against the law and one of the top causes of car accidents. Generally, individuals can face drunk driving charges when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels reach .08% or greater. However, truck drivers can face criminal drunk driving charges when they are found to be operating or in control of an 18 wheeler with a BAC level of .04%.
Truck drivers who fail to conduct necessary safety inspections, drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol, commit traffic violations, or otherwise fail to uphold their duty of care are often held accountable when their negligence causes catastrophic injuries and deaths.