Who Can Be Sued Following A Tractor-trailer Accident That Was Not My Fault?
Any at-fault party can be sued following a tractor-trailer that was not your fault.
What parties can I sue for my tractor-trailer accident?
There are a handful of parties you can sue following a tractor-trailer accident. Some of these parties may not have even been on the road that day, but they may be responsible for your injuries. Potentially liable parties include:
Drivers of tractor-trailers have more legal duties than drivers of passenger cars. Tractor-trailers are large and heavy, which can make them lethal in the event of a crash.
Because of the dangers of large trucks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enacted laws regarding:
- How often drivers must perform inspections and what they must report
- How long they can stay on the road
- How they must record these hours
- Cell phone use
- Drug and alcohol use
If a driver violates any of these laws, s/he could cause an accident.
Drivers of tractor-trailers must also simply drive more carefully than drivers of passenger cars. They must keep a longer following distance and anticipate what other drivers are doing.
If a driver is speeding, tailgating, or otherwise breaking a law, an accident could result.
However, even if a driver is 100 percent at-fault for an accident, s/he will likely not be solely liable for your injuries. Instead, the trucking company is liable under the concept of vicarious liability or respondeat superior. Vicarious liability holds that employers are liable for their employees’ actions so long as the employees were performing the acts in the scope of their employment.
For example, if a driver sideswipes a passenger car in his blind spot, the trucking company will be liable for the driver’s actions so long as the driver was operating the truck in the course and scope of his employment.
The only time you might only sue a truck driver is if the driver caused the accident while acting outside of his/her employment. For example, if the truck driver went to a bar off-duty and crashed into your car heading home, the trucking company may not be liable.
In addition to being vicariously liable for an accident, a trucking company can also be directly liable. Trucking companies have the duty to inspect their trucks as often as necessary to always keep the trucks in safe operating condition. If a trucking company neglects to inspect its trucks, or keeps one in operation regardless of any defects or maintenance needs, it can be liable for any accidents that result.
A trucking company can also be liable for negligent hiring or negligent training. The company has a responsibility to perform a reasonable background check when hiring drivers. If the company failed in this duty and hired a driver with a bad driving record, the company can be at fault if that driver causes a crash.
It can also be liable if it neglected to train its drivers, if that lack of training caused an accident. One last example is that a trucking company can be liable if it forces its drivers to operate the truck in unsafe road conditions, like during an ice storm or during excessive winds that make operating large trucks dangerous.
Truck Maintenance/Repair Company
Trucking companies often hire other companies to handle the maintenance and repairs of their fleet. There are several ways in which these companies can be liable for accidents:
- Failure to perform the maintenance they were hired to do,
- Incompetent performance of the maintenance,
- Failure to perform any inspections they were required to do,
- Incompetent inspections,
- Failure to make required repairs, or
- Failure to alert the company of any issues with the truck
- Using defective parts
Manufacturer of Truck or Part
If the accident resulted from a defective truck part rather than negligence of the truck driver, trucking company, or the maintenance company, injured victims can hold the manufacturer of the part liable.
To hold a manufacturer responsible, you must prove one of the following:
- The product was defective, had a safer alternative design, and the defect is what injured you.
- The product was defective and the manufacturer did not comply with government standards. If the manufacturer did comply with government standards, you must prove that the government standards were “inadequate to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury or damage,” or that the manufacturer withheld or misrepresented information regarding the product.
Do I need a lawyer for my tractor-trailer accident case?
While a lawyer is not legally required for a truck accident case, it will be a great asset. Truck accidents have many moving parts that a lawyer will keep track of for you. If you enlist our help, we will:
- Determine all potentially liable parties and determine the best route to take.
- Help you prove liability. If the manufacturer is liable, we will prove the product was defective and that it led to your injuries. If the liable party was the truck driver, trucking company, repair company, or another driver, we will prove that it was acting negligently at the time of your accident.
- Work with experts to place a value on your claim and fight to get the compensation you deserve.
- Defend you against any accusations of fault/any other tricks the insurers might try to pull.
- Preserve and gather the evidence from the trucking company through use of a spoliation letter.
- Represent you in court if the at-fault party refuses to give you what you deserve.
How can I get help with my tractor-trailer case?
At Lovins Trosclair, PLLC, we have decades of experience handling tractor-trailer accidents. We have offices in Austin and Dallas, and we help injured people throughout Texas and all over the United States. We do not charge a fee unless we win. There is no risk and no obligation. If you were injured in a truck accident that was not your fault, call us today for your free consultation.
In the Dallas area, call us at 214-484-1930.
In the Austin area, call us at 512-535-1649.