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Determining third-party liability in truck accidents

| Jun 2, 2021 | personal injury |

The trucking industry provides a vital service to the American economy in the transportation of goods across the country. It is a difficult job that carries daily life-threatening risks, both to truckers and to the motor vehicle drivers who share the road with them.

In spite of strict federal hours-of-service regulations that limit the number of hours a driver may be on the road between rest periods, how often they must take breaks, and how long they must be off-duty, often drivers will violate these rules in order to meet deadlines.

Because of the many hazards of truck driving, including catastrophic injury and death, this line of work is one of the most dangerous private industry jobs. The number of fatalities involving large trucks increased by 10% from 2016 to 2017, and there has been a 40% overall increase in large truck or bus fatalities from 2009 to 2017.

Holding responsible parties liable after an accident

For those whose lives have been irrevocably altered by catastrophic injury or loss from an accident involving a truck, it is crucial to be able to identify the responsible parties when filing a claim. A commercial truck accident differs from accidents involving other motor vehicles in that it may not just be the fault of the driver, but there can be safety issues such as lapsed inspections, faulty equipment, violations of federal regulations as well as whether the load has been properly secured on the truck.

Some third parties that may bear partial responsibility for the damages that result from a truck accident include:

  • The trucking company, liable if there is a lack of proper maintenance and inspection of the truck, for improperly training a driver, for cutting corners concerning safety issues or for putting their drivers at risk to meet deadlines
  • Truck equipment manufacturers, potentially liable for tire blowouts, faulty brakes or mechanical errors
  • Cargo loaders, who will be liable if the cargo has been improperly packed, is not properly balanced or is not secure.

A driver who has violated hours of service regulations will be also held liable, as will a driver who was drowsy or distracted, impaired by alcohol or stimulants, or who exhibited reckless or careless driving by speeding, failing to yield the right of way or other negligent behavior.

Truck accidents involving multiple parties are often quite complex and require a great deal of investigation in order to gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case. That is why it is so important for the injured party or their family to seek knowledgeable legal representation serving the Grand Rapids community to pursue full compensation for their claim.

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