Big rigs play a critical role in the US economy. According to statistics, they are responsible for moving 72 percent of all consumer goods.
While essential, big rigs present a huge risk to other road users. According to the National Safety Council, trucks are responsible for approximately 5,000 deaths yearly. This is a significant figure considering semis are a small percentage of all registered truck users.
If you have been involved in a big rig accident and want to file a claim, you could wonder where liability for the damages suffered lies. This guide lists possible liable parties you may want to explore.
- The Trucking Company
Under most circumstances, the trucking company will be liable for damages caused by their drivers. Under the doctrine of “superior respondeat” or “vicarious liability,” an employer is responsible for damages caused by their employees while engaged in activity within their scope of work.
- Truck Owner
Truck owners are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are not a risk to other road users by ensuring that their maintenance is up to date. If poor vehicle patience is to blame for an accident, the truck owner will be liable for the resulting damages.
If the trucking company owns the vehicle involved in the accident, the company will be liable for the resulting damages. If the driver doubles up as the truck owner working as an independent contractor, they will be responsible for an accident resulting from poor vehicle maintenance.
- Truck Driver
There are situations where the employer does not carry liability for the mistakes of their driver. For example, if an accident occurs when the driver is not on the job, the driver will be personally responsible for the accidents they caused.
An example situation where the driver can be said to not be on the job would be when they are running a personal errand with the company truck. Another situation is where the driver acted intentionally, in which case they may also face criminal charges.
- Small Car Driver’s Fault
There is a general assumption that the truck driver is always at fault. But there are circumstances where the small car driver could be liable for the accident, including if they drive too close behind the truck, overtake recklessly, or fail to yield way to the truck after indicating an intention to turn, or driving while intoxicated, among other circumstances.
When the small car driver causes the accident, liability for the damages to the truck and injuries to its driver will be on the small car driver.
- Faulty Part Manufacturer
Some truck accidents can result from faulty parts. When a faulty part is the cause of the accident, the part manufacturer will be liable for the accident. For example, suppose a trucking company adds a new truck to its fleet, and a faulty part causes an accident a few days after it gets on the road.
Under such circumstances, the accident’s liability may fall on the faulty part or truck manufacturer. Under product liability law, product manufacturers owe a duty of care to the consumers of their products.
How to Defend Your Rights against a Large Trucking Company’s Law Team
When filing a claim against an individual, the claims process may not be as complicated as when dealing with a large company. Most trucks in America are owned by large trucking companies, meaning they have access to some of the best lawyers.
If you intend to go it alone, you will have almost no chance of getting a fair outcome. The best option would be to hire Big Rig truck accident attorneys with a record of standing up to big company lawyers to win fair compensation for their clients.
While you may recover compensation after a big rig accident, you must first establish who is liable for your damages. Tempting as it may be, you must never handle a big rig accident claim or lawsuit on your own. Instead, seek the help of a skilled lawyer to maximize the chances of a positive outcome.