truck accidents

Truck Accidents and the Law – Part I

truck accidentsOne life experience no one wants to go through is a traffic accident. A car accident is one thing; even worse is being involved in a truck accident. Both are devastating, with injury, loss of property, and the loss of life. However, truck accidents are much more complicated situations. This is especially true if you’re the victim.

Truck Accident Statistics

Below are some statistics facts, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

  • Large trucks involved in accidents between 2011 and 2012: 3,802 (5% increase over the previous year).
  • Fatal crashes involving a large truck rose 4% in the same year.
  • People injured in crashes involving large trucks also rose 22% to 77,000.
  • Property damage due to large trucks increased by 14% to 253,000

The increase in number of any sort of accident, especially those involving large trucks, is discouraging. Because large trucks are so big and heavy, the damage they cause is more significant. Whether it’s a car, a building, or a person, there isn’t much chance for anything that gets in the path of a large truck.

Who is Liable for the Accident?

Liability is the million dollar question, and the reason why filing a claim for a large truck accident is so difficult for the victim. Educating yourself about the trucking industry will help you determine who to file a claim against and whether that claim is a valid one.

At first glance, you see a truck with a company logo on the side. You assume the truck belongs to the company and that the driver is an employee of that company. This could be the case, but not always. Many drivers are considered independent contractors. And sometimes, the trucks aren’t owned by the company they’re transporting goods for. This is where it can get really complicated. Who do you file the liability claim against?

Looking for Loopholes

In the past, trucking companies would use this as a way to avoid liability. They looked for loopholes that would help them avoid paying money or going to court. So, when someone was involved in an accident with a large truck, the company could say they weren’t liable because the driver wasn’t an employee and the truck didn’t belong to them.

To make things even more complicated, there are even more people involved and the finger could be pointed at any one of them. The players are:

  • The driver
  • The owner of the truck
  • The company leasing the truck
  • The person or company who loaded goods onto the truck
  • The truck’s manufacturer

The blame could be placed upon the driver for poor driving. The manufacturer could be blamed for faulty vehicle parts. And whoever loaded the goods could be blamed for improper loading. The possibilities for blame seem endless.

What’s a victim to do? Our next post will discuss truck accidents and current law so you can be informed and know what to do. If you have further questions, please call one of our attorneys for a legal consultation.