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Who Is Liable in a Commercial Truck Accident?

According to Florida law, a commercial truck is not government owned. It has three or more axles; it either weighs 26,001 lbs. or more, or it will weigh that much when hauling cargo.

Given the size, weight, and imposing nature of commercial trucks on the road, it’s easy to assume that the truck driver will always be held liable in an auto accident. This is not always true. When someone has been injured in a commercial truck accident, it’s important to remember the chain of liability. Sometimes the driver can be held directly responsible, but sometimes, liability falls on someone else.

Driver Liability and Standard Traffic Laws

Truckers are at fault for the same reasons that anyone else would be. Driving while exhausted; driving while intoxicated; speeding; ignoring traffic signs; etc. are reasons that anyone would be responsible for an accident.  When a semi driver is aggressively tailgating or pressuring people to move, they are asking for trouble. If their behavior results in an accident, they run the risk of being held responsible for that accident.

Truck Owner Liability

Whoever owns the truck is responsible for its upkeep and inspection. If unchecked equipment causes a malfunction that ends in traffic accident, the burden is placed on the truck’s owner, whether it is privately owned or owned by a trucking company.

Trucking Company Liability

When trying to deduce the chain of liability, it’s important to understand who is directly responsible for which aspect of the accident. Trying to connect the dots may seem like a legal quagmire, but the chains of responsibility are much clearer than they seem. Truck owners are responsible for keeping their trucks safe; employers are responsible for the safety of their employees; etc.

Poor Inspection and Maintenance

If truck companies are putting bad trucks on the road, they can be held responsible. Neglecting upkeep and maintenance of trucks that they own makes them directly liable when something goes wrong. There are a lot of details and specifics in maintaining commercial trucks, and a lazy company is putting other drivers on the road in a lot of danger when it bypasses these things.

Overworked Truckers

Trucking companies cannot overwork their drivers. It’s against the law, and it is unsafe. If a driver is overworked and exhausted, and they cause an accident, a case can be made against the trucking company. Companies are directly responsible for impairing their drivers with long, unfair hours when doing so results in an accident.

It’s unlikely that the victim of a trucking accident will be aware of the overworked trucker’s plight. This evidence would likely come up when lawyers are investigating the accident. To that end, it’s important to ensure that your lawyer thoroughly investigates all possibilities when seeking damages for an accident. If the trucker driver is targeted and the court rules that they were not at fault, it may be necessary to file a whole new suit against the company afterward.

Loading Company Liability

A trucker is driving along safely, obeying all applicable laws. Suddenly, the trailer swings open, cargo flies out the back, and another driver is hurt.

Poor Loading

When the loading company does a poor job of securing the cargo, they can be held responsible for any accidents that result. When making this argument in court, be aware of the chain of possession. Who had access to the trailer, and who touched it? Arguing that the loading company is responsible may backfire if the driver is found to have opened the trailer or handled the cargo at some point. The evidence needs to clearly show that the loading company is the one at fault for poorly loading the trailer; poorly securing the cargo; etc.

Overloading

Overloading is an unsafe practice that should not be tolerated. When a loading company stuffs a trailer beyond its intended use, it is asking for an accident to happen. Traffic accidents that result from overloading are the fault of the loading company. It is important that that the plaintiff shows this in court. Not only should the loading company suffer the consequences, but it also needs to be sent a message to never do this again.

When someone has been involved in a commercial truck accident, it’s important for them to secure a good lawyer. There are so many more angles and specifics that go into this kind of accident. It’s far more complicated than an accident involving two standard compact cars.

From the upkeep of the vehicle; to the chain of possession; to the owner of the vehicle; to the driver’s schedule; there are several potential ways to dole out liability. There could even be more than one party responsible for the accident. A lawyer will help investigate all these possibilities and help find the persons or entities who need to be held responsible for the damage they caused.

If you have been involved in a trucking accident, we want to help. We have free consultations, and there is no risk to you. Call today at (850) 764-0383 or contact us online.

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