After a truck accident, you may be struggling to understand what happened and who is responsible for your injuries. There may be more than one person or company responsible for your injuries in a truck crash case. Potentially liable parties include the truck driver, the trucking company, the shipper, the broker, the company that loaded the cargo, and possibly others.
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is critical that you talk to an experienced truck accident lawyer to determine who may be held accountable and make sure your rights are protected.
At The Callahan Law Firm, our personal injury lawyers have been helping clients injured in truck accidents for more than 25 years. Because of our experience and many years of hard work, we understand the complexities involved in handling a truck accident case. From the time we are hired through the resolution of the case, our attorneys and staff are fully committed to helping our clients get the justice they deserve.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for a Truck Accident?
When you are in a truck accident, there may be multiple people and companies who may be responsible for the crash and the injuries that you have suffered. Those responsible may include the following:
- Truck Driver Liability – Clearly, the first person we look to for liability is the truck driver. Truck drivers are professional drivers who are required to follow specific rules before, during, and after driving. The drivers have a responsibility to perform pre-trip inspections on their tractors and trailers to ensure the vehicles are in safe operating condition. There is a long list of items that must be checked including tires, brakes, mirrors, and that the load is properly secured. Once driving, the truck driver is required to control the speed of his vehicle, properly manage the space around his vehicle – front, sides, and back, make sure that he can safely clear an intersection before entering it, make safe turns both left and right, and watch for hazards ahead so that he can respond in time such that the hazard does not become an emergency. These are just some of the many responsibilities that a professional truck driver must follow to ensure the truck is operated safely and the other motorists are kept safe.
- Trucking Company Liability – The trucking company has many responsibilities when hiring and retaining its truck drivers. That includes performing a proper background check with previous employers, checking driving history before hiring, maintaining a driver qualification file as required by law, monitoring the truck driver’s performance, making sure the driver complies with the regulations including hours of service, and much more. When a trucking company fails in one or more of these areas, that negligence can cause or contribute to truck accidents and harm to the public.
- Owner-Operator Liability – In an “owner-operator” situation, the truck tractor will be owned by one party – usually the owner-operator – but leased to a trucking company. When a trucking company enters into a leasing arrangement with an owner-operator, by law the trucking company is considered to have the exclusive possession, control, and use of the equipment for the duration of the lease. In addition, the trucking company assumes full direction and control of the leased vehicle as if the vehicle was owned by the trucking company. If a trucking company contracts with an owner-operator of a truck, the trucking company can be held responsible for a truck accident as if the driver was its employee.
- Broker Liability – Brokers are another group that may bear responsibility for your injuries after an accident. Brokers can be thought of as go-betweens who coordinate with the company shipping goods and the carrier company that transports them. Brokers may be liable for negligent acts or omissions a motor carrier or its driver in certain circumstances. If so, they may be held responsible for your injuries.
- Shipper Liability – This type of liability arises when the shipper fails to load the cargo properly. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, shippers and cargo loaders must meet certain standards of care in loading cargo, balancing it, and securing it for transport. A shipper that fails to meet those standards of care may be liable for accidents caused by improperly loaded cargo.
Shippers may also be liable for accidents if they oversee the shipping process. For example, if the shipper is responsible for loading the cargo and hires a driver to transport it, they may be liable if they fail to investigate the driver and their safety record.
Violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR)
A driver, shipper, or motor carrier that violates the FMCSR may be liable for your injuries. Common violations of these federal regulations include:
- Unsafe driving by failing to operate a vehicle in accordance with the laws
- Driving while impaired due to fatigue, illness, or other cause
- Failure to adequately conduct pre-trip vehicle inspection of the vehicle
- Failure to adequately secure cargo
- Failure to comply with an hour of service requirements
- Failure to maintain accurate drivers logs
- Failure to maintain the vehicle in a safe operating condition
- Failure to create and maintain proper driver qualification files
- Failure to maintain accident registers containing information such as date, location, names, injuries, and the involvement of hazardous materials
These and many other violations of the FMCSR are factors in proving the liability of truck drivers, trucking companies, and others. If you have been injured in a truck accident, you should speak with a truck accident lawyer who understands the laws, rules, and regulations that apply in truck accident cases to make sure that your rights are protected.
How Our Attorneys Work to Prove Liability
Our attorneys work diligently to prove liability in a truck accident by:
- Collecting crash information including the police report, witness statements, photographs, and more
- Knowing applicable state and federal laws to determine violations that caused or contributed to the crash
- Hiring experts where appropriate in areas such as accident reconstruction, electronic data retrieval, truck maintenance, trucking regulation compliance, trucking company safety program, safe operation of trucks
- Taking steps to preserve critical evidence
- Filing a lawsuit at the appropriate time to gain access to critical documents and obtain testimony under oath of critical witnesses
- Gathering information on the trucking company’s hiring practices and safety program
- Determining additional persons and companies that may be liable including the shipper, broker, and others
Talk to a Houston Truck Accident Lawyer Now
If you have been injured in a truck accident, it is critical that you consult with an experienced truck accident attorney who knows how to handle these complex claims. The attorneys at The Callahan Law Firm have a long history of successfully representing injured people and their families in truck accident cases.
For a free case consultation, contact us today online or by phone. Let us start work on your case today.