When Can You Sue a Trucking Company After a Truck Accident?
Trucking companies can be liable for accidents caused by their drivers. However, knowing when to hold the company liable is not always straightforward, as sometimes the driver may be at fault. That’s where a skilled personal injury attorney in Mesquite comes in to help you determine liability.
The process is often complex, but lawyers can engage expert witnesses and accident reconstruction experts to arrive at a conclusion that is beyond doubt. The lawyer will also help you collect the necessary evidence to prove liability and pursue compensation for the damages.
How Can Trucking Companies Be Held Liable for an Accident?
A trucking company can be at fault for an accident directly or vicariously. Direct liability implies the company is guilty of some negligence that directly contributed to the accident. An example is when a trucking company fails to maintain its trucks properly, and mechanical failure contributes to the accident.
Vicarious liability is when a trucking company is indirectly liable for an accident. The “respondeat superior” concept kicks in, implying that the master is answerable. In most cases, trucking companies are held vicariously liable for the recklessness of their truck drivers.
That happens if the driver is an employee or legal agent of the company, not an independent contractor. Trucking companies often deny responsibility to avoid compensating victims. Working with an experienced Mesquite truck accident lawyer improves the chances of recovering the compensation your case deserves.
Trucking Company Negligence
Trucking company negligence can take many forms, with the following being some of the most common scenarios:
Violation of Hours of Service Rules
In Texas, all truck drivers must have eight consecutive off-duty hours before a driving shift. The shift must entail, at most, 12 consecutive hours of driving. Unfortunately, some trucking companies violate this rule and subject their drivers to long working hours without the necessary breaks.
Driver fatigue decreases their efficiency on the road. When a crash happens, and it is established it was due to a violation of the hours of service rules, the trucking company can be held liable. Your Mesquite truck accident lawyer can assess the driver’s log of working hours to determine how many hours the driver had been working at the time of the accident to determine fault.
Hiring Unqualified Truck Drivers
Commercial truck drivers must have specific skills, qualifications, and behind-the-wheel experience. They also must undergo medical fitness and drug testing according to federal trucking regulations before being hired by trucking companies.
These rules exist to try and ensure commercial truck drivers have the skills to operate massive 18-wheelers safely. The regulations also deter drivers with severe medical conditions or addictions that may threaten their ability to maintain safe driving conditions.
Trucking companies can be responsible for an accident for hiring unqualified truck drivers. A skilled truck accident lawyer in Mesquite can establish the following forms of negligence:
- Not screening drivers during the hiring process.
- Not conducting drug testing when hiring drivers or after collisions.
- Overlooking training or not verifying a driver’s credentials before entrusting them with the responsibility of driving an 18-wheeler.
Trucking companies must put employees through appropriate training to prepare them for the task ahead. Training should comprise the following at a minimum:
- Reviewing safety regulations with drivers
- Conducting driver training with test-drives
- Reviewing traffic regulations and laws governing 18-wheelers
Failure to train drivers may take many forms. If an accident results in the injury of another person, the trucking company may be held liable, allowing you to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Vehicle or Equipment Failure
Trucking companies must maintain their big rigs and the equipment used in loading, offloading, and maintaining the safety of the vehicles. While some take this responsibility seriously, others don’t, meaning that:
- Catastrophic equipment failures such as brake failure and tire blowouts can happen on the road, causing irreversible damage
- Risky and potentially faulty equipment that isn’t repaired or replaced promptly can cause accidents
Trucks require routine maintenance to eliminate:
- Brake problems
- Tire wear and tear
- Oil issues
- Broken mirrors, glass, or windows
- Windshield wiper adjustments
- Steering problems
Failure to address these issues puts the driver and vehicle in danger. A truck company that honors its obligation to inspect, maintain, and repair its fleet can prevent most vehicle and equipment failures responsible for truck crashes. Failure to do so can make it liable for the accident.
Unsafe Procedures, Policies, and Decisions
Trucking companies sometimes lack policies or procedures to prevent truck accidents. For example, they lack policies for properly screening and training drivers. On the other hand, some trucking companies may have policies that violate federal trucking regulations. For example, requiring drivers to work back-to-back shifts with little or no hours of rest violates HOS rules.
Cargo Loading Negligence
A trucking company must also ensure the cargo is secure and doesn’t exceed the designated volume and weight limits for different cargo types. If an overloaded truck or improperly secured cargo causes an accident, an experienced truck accident lawyer in Mesquite can help prove the company’s liability.
An Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer Helping You Determine Truck Company Liability
A set of laws governs the trucking industry, and truck accident cases revolve around these regulations. If you got into an accident involving a truck, proving the truck company’s liability can be complex, and you may be unable to pursue compensation. However, a skilled Mesquite personal injury attorney knows how to navigate such cases and can help you.
The truck accident attorney at the Oberg Law Office has been providing legal counsel and representation to clients involved in truck accidents for many years. Our team takes pride in being able to help personal injury victims pursue the total compensation they deserve for injuries caused by someone else’s negligence. Call us at (972) 682-9700 to schedule a FREE case assessment.