Who Is Liable for My Truck Accident?December 22, 2020
3 Parties Commonly At-Fault for 18-Wheeler Accidents
In seconds, a truck wreck can cause extensive, lasting damage. When that happens, one of the biggest questions that investigators and victims have focuses on what caused the 18-wheeler accident—and, specifically, who is responsible for it.
That can seem like a simple question to ask. It can also be exceedingly difficult to answer, depending on the circumstances of a crash. Nevertheless, finding the answer is crucial to helping survivors understand and pursue their best options for justice and recovery.
Truck Accident Liability: 3 Parties that Can Be At Fault for Wrecks
More than 164,000 semi-truck accidents happen on U.S. roads every year, and more than 1 in every 5 of these wrecks occur in Texas.
That’s according to the latest data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which also report that nearly 1 in every 3 Texas truck accidents happens in Harris County, Dallas County, or El Paso County.
No matter where 18-wheeler crashes occur in Texas or the U.S., here’s a look at the parties that are most commonly at fault for them and how to tell when they are.
1. Motor carriers
Trucking companies can be at fault for the wrecks caused by unsafe policies, procedures, employees, and/or vehicles. In fact, motor carrier liability for truck accidents can stem from the things that these companies do or do not do when it comes to:
- Screening, hiring, and training drivers
- Maintaining vehicles and ensuring they are equipped with all necessary safety equipment
- Establishing and enforcing policies that are compliant with all applicable trucking regulations and that promote safety
Because motor carriers are not typically on site when truck accidents happen, determining when they may be liable can take deeper investigation. Some evidence to look at when evaluating potential motor carrier liability can include:
- Regulators’ records
- Hiring and training records
- Vehicle equipment maintenance records
- Employee handbooks and motor carrier policies
Driver-related factors play a role in at least 1 in every 3 deadly truck wrecks, according to the FMCSA. These factors can be the result of actions (or inactions) on the part of truckers and/or other passenger vehicle drivers.
In most cases of semi crashes caused by drivers, speeding, driver inattention, and driver impairment are to blame. Of course, however, other driver errors—like any failures to obey any traffic laws—can and do contribute to 18-wheeler wrecks.
Some ways to assess potential driver liability for truck accidents can involve looking at, for, or through:
- Tire tread marks on the ground (or a lack of them)
- Statements made by drivers or witnesses
- Citations being issued or arrests being made after the wreck
- Signs of visible driver impairment immediately after the wreck
- Damage to the vehicles (and/or surrounding features) showing which motorist caused the impact
3. Vehicle equipment manufacturers
About 5% of semi-truck accidents are caused by vehicle-related issues, like equipment failures or malfunctions. By far, tires failures are the most common equipment problem that contributes to wrecks. Problems with brakes, suspension systems, and steering systems also commonly play a role in crashes when vehicle equipment issues are a factor.
These issues can trigger manufacturer liability if or when equipment is poorly designed, improperly tested, made of subpar materials, and more.
Some things to look for when evaluating whether vehicle equipment manufacturers may be liable for a crash can include:
- Equipment testing and safety records
- Regulator records
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Records from electronic on-board recorders
- Driver and witness statements
- Debris at the accident site
How to Determine Fault for 18-Wheeler Accidents: What Victims MUST Know
When it comes to assessing liability for semi-truck accidents, the bottom line is that it can take deeper investigations, beyond the immediate scene and evidence, to figure out fault. It’s also essential to point out that:
- Survivors often need to focus on medical care for their serious injuries, rather than the investigation of their case.
- It can take the trained, critical eye of an experienced truck accident lawyer to understand when records, debris, accident scene photos, and more hold key evidence for determining liability.
- Survivors may only have one shot at holding the at-fault parties liable.
Ultimately, working with a truck wreck attorney can be the best way to figure out and prove fault for these crashes. That can be integral to helping survivors hold the liable parties accountable and seek the justice and financial recoveries they deserve.