Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

December 21, 2023 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

To be compensated for your truck accident injuries, you need to prove that someone was responsible for them. The burden of proof falls on you and is necessary to recover financial compensation.

Not only must you figure out the correct party to sue, but you must also gather the evidence showing they were to blame for what happened. An experienced Dallas truck accident attorney can investigate your crash and compile the proof you need to qualify for a settlement or jury award.

The Truck Driver Is Not Necessarily the One Who Pays for Your Accident Damages

Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident

You were involved in a crash with the truck driver at the outset; however, you will rarely take action directly against the truck driver alone.

Your truck accident damages can be millions of dollars, and there is little to no chance that the truck driver will have the money to pay for your injuries.

Even if you have a personal injury judgment against them, there is still a very low likelihood that you can collect anything against the judgment, let alone the entire amount.

In any trucking accident claim, you are looking for someone who will both be legally responsible and have a pocket deep enough to pay you for all the harm that you have suffered. Most often, it will be the trucking company.

The Trucking Company Is Often the Most Likely Defendant

There is a legal concept that will make the trucking company responsible for the accident.

When an employer hires an employee, they take on responsibility for what the worker does, and the employee becomes the employer's agent when acting on their behalf. In other words, if the truck driver was behind the wheel and driving for the trucking company, the employer will be responsible for paying you.

There are limited circumstances in which a trucking company will not be responsible for the driver's actions.

For example, if the driver was running a personal errand in the truck at the time of the accident, they were not acting on behalf of the employer. The trucking company is also not legally responsible if the driver committed an intentionally wrongful act since it is outside the scope of their job.

Suing Owner-Operators for Your Accident Injuries

Sometimes, you must directly sue the truck driver because some owner-operators do not work for a specific trucking company. Thus, they will be responsible for their own actions on the road.

According to federal trucking regulations, any truck driver must have a minimum of $750,000 in insurance coverage, and some insurance companies will not write a policy for under $1 million.

You are always better off when bringing a trucking company into a lawsuit. Trucking companies may have even more insurance coverage because they do not want to be responsible for any shortfall.

If your damages exceed the amount of the insurance policy, you can collect against the trucking company's assets.

Trucking Companies Are Never Completely Off the Hook, Even When They Outsource

Truck Accident Liability

You can include a trucking company in a lawsuit, even when an owner-operator caused the accident.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations allow you to file a claim when the owner-operator was "under the dispatch" of the trucking company, which implies a level of control.

A trucking company also may wrongfully characterize a driver as an independent contractor, and the court will still allow you to sue the trucking company in this case.

You may also have grounds for a lawsuit against a company that hired an owner-operator.

Before a company contracts out to a driver, they should thoroughly research their background and driving record and hire people who have no infractions. In addition, the company is obligated to check the driver's safety record and should no longer work with a driver who has recently committed serious violations.

Product Defects Responsible for Truck Accidents

There may be other responsible parties for a truck accident. The truck itself, or a part, may have been to blame for the accident. The driver may have done nothing wrong, but a tire blew out, or the brakes did not work when needed.

Although these are rare, you will then have the ability to file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer or anyone who sold the truck. The defendant will be liable if you prove the part was defective.

There are three primary types of defects:

  • A design defect is when the design makes the product unreasonably dangerous for its intended use.
  • A manufacturing defect is when there is nothing wrong with the design. Still, something happens during the manufacturing process, such as using substandard materials or a batch that comes out the wrong way.
  • A marketing defect is when the seller knew or should have known of the defect, and they did nothing to fix it or warn the general public.

Other Third Parties Who May Be Responsible

There may be other third parties who you can hold legally responsible for your truck accident injuries.

For example, the trucking company may need more staff to perform truck maintenance and outsource to a third party. The third party may be legally responsible if there is a truck accident because of improper maintenance.

You can also hold the trucking company liable, depending on whether they failed to scrutinize the maintenance company properly before hiring.

A third party may have loaded cargo onto the truck, and federal regulations specify how freight is to be loaded to keep it safe. Suppose cargo falling off the truck or a rollover caused the accident. In that case, the cargo loader may be legally responsible for the accident (often alongside the trucking company).

An entity other than the trucking company may have owned the truck and can be liable for the accident.

Your Case Depends on the Results of Your Lawyer's Investigation

Your lawyer will perform an immediate and extensive investigation of the truck accident to learn who may potentially be responsible.

Your case may involve more than one potential defendant, and an attorney will file a lawsuit against all of them. The court may decide how much each party needs to pay, which you do not need to worry about.

There are times when trucking companies have complicated ownership structures through the use of limited liability companies and other entities. You need to name the property entities in the lawsuit to avoid any delays or even a dismissal of your case.

Your lawyer will research the ownership structure to ensure you have the proper defendants named. They may then look for other assets that the trucking company or defendant may have that can pay a lawsuit judgment.

Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Case

Your lawyer will gather evidence that can prove that someone else was negligent and the cause of your truck accident injuries.

In a truck accident, negligence means:

  • The other party owed you a duty of care
  • They breached the duty of care by doing something unreasonable under the circumstances
  • You suffered an injury
  • You would not have suffered an injury had it not been for the acts or omissions of the other party

Examples of Negligence in a Truck Accident Case

In a truck accident case, examples of negligence can include:

  • An illegal lane change where the truck driver did not properly check their blindspot
  • Losing control of the truck because the driver was drowsy
  • A tire blowout because the truck was not thoroughly maintained and inspected
  • A piece of cargo flew off the truck because the cargo loader did not correctly tie it down
  • The truck had a rollover accident because the driver oversteered or because the center of gravity was off due to improper cargo loading

You Need Evidence to Prove Your Truck Accident Case

Your truck accident attorney will compile the evidence proving that someone else was responsible for the accident.

You will need to move quickly because truck accident evidence is only available to you for a short time after the accident. It may be more difficult to locate witnesses, and the physical evidence can disappear quickly.

Your lawyer can gather additional evidence in a truck accident lawsuit. There are more records that the trucking company may have in its possession that you can obtain in the discovery phase of your trial.

You may request documents from the defendants for a lawsuit, and these requests are where you will learn about how the trucking company has failed to follow federal trucking regulations and basic safety rules.

You Cannot Wait to Hire an Attorney

In any truck accident case, you need an experienced attorney to represent you from the outset of the process. You need to make the call as soon as possible after the truck accident. If you cannot do it yourself, a family member can call for you because a lot is on the line.

You may recover significant financial compensation even if the insurance company does not want to pay you.

Your Truck Accident Compensation Can Be Considerable

Your truck accident compensation can include:

  • The complete cost of your medical care
  • Lost income for your inability to work or earn as much as you were before the accident
  • Pain and suffering for the experience that you endure on account of your truck accident injuries
  • Loss of enjoyment of the life that you had before the truck accident
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Embarrassment and humiliation
  • Emotional trauma and distress

Families can file a wrongful death lawsuit when a truck accident causes the death of a loved one. Then, you can get financial compensation for your personal damage - namely, losing your loved one in a truck accident.

The estate can also receive payment for the injuries that the deceased person suffered between the time of the truck accident and their death.

These damages should be considerable, so you should have an experienced attorney on your side, preferably right after the truck accident.

How a Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help Your Case

A truck accident lawyer can do the following for your case:

  • Investigate the accident to learn the cause and the proper defendant or defendants to sue
  • Gather the evidence to show that each was responsible for the truck accident
  • Estimate the value of your damages so you can seek the right amount in a settlement or lawsuit
  • Obtain additional evidence throughout the lawsuit process that can help prove your case
  • Deal with the insurance company and their lawyers throughout your case
  • Argue your case in court if you cannot successfully settle (either because the insurance company will not offer you adequate compensation or has denied your claim)

You cannot perform these tasks independently for various reasons, and you are always better off when you put your case in the hands of an experienced professional who can fight for you.

Money is never an issue in a truck accident case because your lawyer only gets paid when you receive money for your injuries. Then, they will receive a percentage of your settlement or jury award.

What to Expect at Your Free Consultation with a Truck Accident Lawyer

During your free consultation with a truck accident attorney, you can expect a comprehensive review of your case. The attorney will attentively listen to your account of the accident, assess available evidence, and inquire about your injuries and damages.

They will provide insights into the legal aspects of your situation, explaining potential challenges and opportunities.

Expect to discuss the applicable laws, liability considerations, and the compensation you deserve.

This initial consultation is an opportunity to ask questions, gain clarity on the legal process, and understand how the attorney can advocate for your rights. It lays the foundation for a collaborative and informed approach to seeking rightful compensation after a truck accident.

Seek your case evaluation with a Dallas personal injury lawyer today.