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Are commercial truck drivers always liable after an accident?

Millions of commercial trucks travel U.S. highways every day, and many of them are involved in accidents. The truck driver is sometimes to blame, but there may be other individuals or parties liable as well.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety examined U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System numbers. Between 2008 and 2018, an average of 4,500 people died annually in accidents involving commercial trucks.

Many state and federal laws govern those involved in commercial driving. The important regulations are not only for drivers. If you are in a serious accident with a truck, more than just the driver could be responsible.

Who can you hold liable and why?

Responsible parties and their legal responsibilities include:

  • Cargo loaders. Loads must be properly inspected and secured.
  • Drivers. They cannot drive impaired or while distracted. Drivers must limit their hours behind the wheel, and must also take mandatory time off between shifts.
  • Manufacturers: The manufacturer of the truck and its parts can be liable if they produce faulty materials.
  • Trucking companies. Trucking companies must hire qualified drivers with safe driving records. Drivers and their employers must also maintain electronic logs so that drivers do not work beyond legal limits. Reasonable measures must be taken to ensure safety. Trucking companies can also be liable if an employee commits a wrongful, intentional act on the job.
  • Truck owners. If someone other than the trucking company owns the truck, that owner is responsible to inspect and maintain it.

The aftermath of a commercial truck accident can be overwhelming from a legal standpoint. There are many important details you must sort through to determine who is responsible.

Evidence could help you prove liability

Photos, documentation and police reports will help to build a stronger case. That evidence can be used to prove who made the errors that actually caused the trucking accident. Talk to a personal injury lawyer to discuss the specific evidence related to your case.

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