Each truck accident is unique. Just as there may be multiple contributing factors to an accident between large trucks and passenger vehicles, there may be multiple parties who share some degree of the fault.
Like other kinds of personal injury incidents, fault in a truck accident case is based on the legal concept of negligence. In order to share in the fault, you must show that a responsible party:
- Owed you a duty of care (e.g., following posted speed limits and other rules of the road, taking reasonable actions to avoid collisions, etc.)
- Violated that duty of care
- Caused harm to you (“damages”) as a result of that violation
Potentially liable parties in a commercial truck crash case might include:
- Negligent truck driver. The trucker might personally be at fault if they were operating the truck in an unsafe manner.
- The employer of the truck driver. The commercial vehicle company is responsible for the actions of the drivers they employ. They must also follow strict state and federal regulations regarding hiring, training, and more. However, they often cut corners in the name of pursuing profit.
- Equipment manufacturer. If the crash was caused by faulty tires, brakes, or other equipment due to a fundamental design flaw, the manufacturer may be considered negligent.
- Maintenance company. Tractor trailers and other large trucks and commercial vehicles need to be inspected and maintained regularly. If the maintenance team ignored critical safety issues or performed sloppy repairs, they could be responsible for the crash.
- Cargo loader. If a semi truck is loaded improperly, truck handling may be compromised and the trailer may be prone to tipping over.
- Bar or restaurant. If the truck driver has been drinking, and was knowingly overserved, the establishment that overserved them may bear some of the legal responsibility.
- You. A jury may find that the driver of a passenger car may share in the responsibility if they were also driving in an unsafe or negligent manner.
Why Liability Matters
Identifying all the liable parties is an important step for a couple of major reasons.
The first is the doctrine of comparative negligence. In Texas, if you are found to be more than 50% at fault for your accident, you cannot receive any compensation—even if you’ve suffered serious injuries and the commercial truck driver was also negligent. And if you are found to be partially responsible but at 50% or less of the total blame, your compensation will be reduced by your share of the fault.
The second is about applicable insurance policies and coverage limits. When a heavy truck collides with a small passenger car, the resulting injuries are often catastrophic. You may rack up hundreds of thousands in medical bills. However, the truck driver’s personal insurance coverage may not provide a nearly high enough limit to compensate you fairly.
On the other hand, trucking companies (and other corporate entities) tend to have much higher liability limits on their insurance policies.
Identifying all the potential sources of fault and insurance coverage may be necessary to maximize the amount of compensation you can actually collect.
An experienced legal team will help you navigate the complexities of a truck accident case and ensure you are fairly compensated by all parties involved. We will look at all angles of the case, including the driver’s personal fault, the fault of the trucking company, and even how the maintenance or support companies may share in the blame.