Immediately after a truck accident most people aren’t wondering where to place the blame, how they’ll pay for their medical bills, how they’ll repair or replace their car, or who is to blame for the truck accident.
Once they do get to “whose fault was the truck accident,” the answer seems simple enough. It was either the truck driver’s fault or their fault. They figure whomever’s “fault” the truck accident was, their insurance will pay for the truck accident. In the courtroom, it is not that simple.
Unlike a motor vehicle accident among cars, truck accident liability has its own rules and regulations. A truck may be registered in one state, owned by someone in a different state, leased by someone in a third state, and be transporting good to yet additional states. Add in truck drivers, insurance carriers, and the companies that hired the trucks to transport the goods, and the list of state laws involved in any trucking accident can go on for days.
On top of all the state laws involved, trucks are subject to many federal laws and regulations that further complicate a truck accident case.
Sadly, many inexperienced truck accident attorneys have difficulty knowing who may be responsible, what insurance is going to apply, and what law, in what jurisdiction, controls the case.
For an experienced truck accident attorney, the most important factor in determining what laws apply to your truck accident is whether or not the truck was involved in interstate commerce at the time of the accident.
If it was transporting goods from state to state, then Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations apply to your accident. If it wasn’t, than state law applies.
Who can be found liable for a commercial trucking accident?
If you were involved in an accident with a large commercial vehicle of any kind, there are many parties that may be liable for the truck accident, including:
- The negligent truck driver
- The negligent truck drivers employer
- A broker company who provided the driver to the transport company
- The owner of the truck or commercial vehicle
- The owner of the trailer the truck driver is transporting
- Former owners of the truck (if they negligently repaired or maintained the truck or trailer)
- A negligent repair company
- A tire manufacturer
- A truck manufacturer for negligently designed or manufactured trucks
- The person, or company, who negligently loaded or secured a load on a truck
- Lessees of the truck or trailer
- Whatever company has their placard DOT number on the vehicle
Most states – including Arizona, California, Florida, and Washington – have laws that call for comparative negligence. This means that more than one entity may be responsible for portions of the accident.
Let’s take an example of a truck accident in which the truck driver hit you and the verdict was for $1 million. The truck driver may be found 10 percent responsible for the big rig crash. His insurance will have to pay you $100,000. But maybe the company that was leasing the truck did not service the brakes. That company may be held 40 percent responsible, having to pay you $400,000. And, finally, maybe the corporation that manufactured the brakes had made and sold defective brakes. It could be found 50 percent responsible and have to pay out $500,000.
To determine who is responsible and liable for your truck accident takes a truck accident attorney with the skills and knowledge of how to investigate a big rig crash.
How can an experienced truck accident attorney help your case?
Although not all the above parties are always at fault in a trucking accident anywhere in the United States, all vehicles involved in interstate commerce have a minimum of $750,000.00 in liability insurance.
If the truck in the accident is transporting hazardous materials than even higher minimal liability amounts usually apply.
But, if the truck is only operating in-state, lower state-determined limits apply.
This is why who is responsible – even if it is only partially responsible — affects your ability to recover compensation for the losses you sustained in the trucking accident.
An experienced truck accident attorney, like those at Garcia, Artigliere & Medby will make all the difference to your case.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, contact an experienced truck accident attorney at Garcia, Artigliere & Medby for a free, no-obligation consolation.