Determining fault in accidents involving tractor trailers or other large commercial trucks can be difficult. Shipping goods by truck, especially for long hauls, can involve multiple carriers, drivers, cargo loaders and maintenance providers. Any one of these parties may be responsible, in whole or in part, for causing an accident, which in turn determines who can be held to pay damages for resulting injuries.
Establishing liability for a truck accident requires thorough analysis. An accident investigator tries to determine fault based on any negligent conduct of the parties involved and any violations of applicable regulatory requirements. The following are the parties most commonly found to be at fault for truck related accidents:
- Driver ― Generally, commercial truck drivers are highly trained, licensed and subject to both government and employer oversight. However, truckers are human and make mistakes that can result in crashes. In addition, drivers sometimes cut corners on safety. Economic pressures to deliver on schedule may lead them to drive without adequate rest or at unsafe speeds.
- Truck owner ― Most commercial trucks are owned by a company or individual other than the driver. Owners are typically responsible for making sure that the truck is mechanically roadworthy. Some owners fail to adequately maintain their trucks. Faulty brakes, worn tires and other poorly maintained parts and systems can cause or contribute to accidents.
- Trucking company ― Many companies own and/or operate their own fleets of trucks but give them inadequate maintenance. In addition, trucking companies who fail to properly screen or supervise drivers can also compromise safety, as can pressuring drivers to cut corners on regulatory compliance in order to improve delivery performance.
- Cargo handler ― Some trucking companies employ their own loaders, but cargo is most commonly handled by third parties. A product manufacturer or distributor may be responsible for loading the trucks that dock at their facilities. Failing to handle cargo properly is a safety issue. For example, not securing or balancing the load can cause weight to suddenly shift and make the truck difficult to control, possibly leading to crashes on the highway.
- Manufacturer/upfitter ― Truck manufacturers occasionally release vehicles with a design defect or manufacturing error that renders the truck unsafe to operate. This can also happen when an upfitter significantly modifies a factory-built truck. Improperly designed specialty equipment or poorly executed modifications can make an upfitted truck unsafe.
An experienced trucking accident attorney can be of vital assistance in making sure that all potentially responsible parties are included as defendants in a lawsuit.
If you were hurt in an accident involving a tractor trailer or commercial truck, call Goldberg Sager & Associates in Brooklyn at ln::phone] or contact us online for a free initial consultation. We serve people in all five boroughs and throughout the New York metropolitan area, including Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties.