Who Is Liable for My Semi Truck Accident Injuries?

When the driver of a semi truck is at fault for an accident, you may assume that the responsibility for your injuries lies entirely with the individual behind the wheel. Although error on the part of the driver is the leading cause of collisions involving 18-wheelers, many factors may have actually resulted in the accident. 

Accident claims involving semi trucks are complicated. One of the major reasons for this complexity is that other parties, such as the trucking company owning the vehicle, may also be partially at fault for the crash.

If you have been injured in a semi truck accident in New York or Connecticut, it is important to identify all of the parties that may be liable in your case. These parties may include:

The Truck Driver

Assessing fault for any motor vehicle accident begins with an evaluation of the driver’s actions and behavior. Although truckers must undergo specialized training to operate semis, the drivers of big rigs may still commit errors that can lead to tragic outcomes.

Some of the most common causes of semi truck accidents resulting from driver error include:

  • Fatigued driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Driving while under the influence
  • Speeding and failure to modify speed for weather and traffic conditions
  • Aggressive driving
  • Following other vehicles too closely
  • Failure to check blind spots or allow sufficient distance when merging or changing lanes
  • Unfamiliarity with roadways

Ultimately, the truck driver is responsible for paying attention to the road and operating the rig safely. However, factors like the ones above may also arise in part due to the negligence of the driver’s employer.

The Trucking Company

Legally, trucking companies are responsible for the actions of their drivers. When an accident occurs in the course of a trucker’s regular job duties, his or her employer may be partially at fault.

Trucking company negligence generally stems from decisions to prioritize profits ahead of safety. These decisions may result in:

  • Hiring unqualified drivers
  • Failing to screen drivers for previous violations and substance use
  • Neglecting to train drivers properly
  • Failing to test drivers for drug use
  • Pushing drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines, resulting in federal hours of service violations

The complexity of truck accident litigation becomes apparent when you consider  how accidents can result from the negligence of both the truck driver and the trucking company. For example, if the company leans on drivers to complete their hauls in an unreasonable time frame, the truck driver may feel compelled to break the hours of service laws (regulations that govern the number of hours commercial drivers can operate in a given period) to make the deadline. This can result in drowsy driving, which in turn may cause an accident.

Trucking companies may also share liability for accidents caused by poor maintenance of the cab, trailer, or both. A single company may own the truck and be responsible for servicing it, or ownership and maintenance responsibilities may be divided among several different companies.

A Vehicle or Part Manufacturer

In addition to inadequate maintenance, semi trucks may fail due to defective parts and components. Despite the enormous size and weight of semis, the failure of any number of small parts can have catastrophic consequences.

As in any product liability claim, multiple parties may be at fault for the injuries you sustain as a result of an accident stemming from a defective semi truck. These parties may include:

  • The company that designed and manufactured the vehicle or part
  • One or more third-party companies involved in assembling the truck or its parts
  • Wholesalers and distributors that sell defective and dangerous parts

Determining why a semi truck failed will require a thorough investigation of the vehicle. It is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident in order to gather key evidence from the wrecked semi itself.

A Shipping Company

Many truck drivers travel hundreds if not thousands of miles to deliver cargo. The company that loads the truck at point A might be totally different than the ones at points B, C, and so on along the route.

Unsecured or poorly balanced cargo is often a factor in semi truck accidents. When items shift from one side of the trailer to another, the entire rig might tip over on its side. Cargo can also spill out of the truck and into the road, potentially causing multiple vehicles to crash.

Multiple parties may be liable in these situations. Employees for the trucking company or workers at a distribution center may be negligent in loading and securing cargo, the truck driver might fail to inspect the load during the course of the haul, and/or the restraints or parts of the trailer that hold cargo may be defective.

Contact Our Semi Truck Accident Injury Lawyers Today

Due to the complex liability in trucking accident claims, it is crucial to have experienced legal counsel who can investigate the accident on your behalf, identify all of the at-fault parties, and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. Ventura Law has achieved significant recoveries on behalf of clients who have been injured in semi truck accidents.

For a free review of your claim, please call (203) 800-8000 today. Ventura Law has offices throughout Connecticut, including Danbury, Bridgeport, Hartford, and Norwalk, as well as in New York.