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Who Is Responsible For a Commercial Trucking Accident?

If you’re involved in a commercial trucking accident, there’s a good chances the losses you’ve received are not small. Commercial trucking accidents can be some of the most devastating motor vehicle accidents you might experience, and it’s not uncommon to sustain close to or complete and total loss of your vehicle, serious injuries, and so much more. Naturally, the first thing you might be wondering is who you can hold responsible for the injuries you’ve sustained.

Normally, in a typical car accident, liability would be fairly straightforward—you and the other driver or drivers involved work out who is responsible for the accident, and in what percentage, and the parties who hold liability are responsible for compensating those who are not with the assistance of their insurance company.

However, commercial trucks are quite a bit different. Liability can be impacted by everything from who owns the truck to who was operating it to where it was being operated. This makes the question of who to pursue a lot more complicated. To help you better understand how to approach your commercial truck accident, here is a brief description of who can be held liable in one of these accidents, and when.

The Driver

Naturally, for most people the first person who comes to mind when it comes to who to hold responsible for an auto accident is the person who was operating the vehicle at fault. With commercial truck accidents, this is still a possibility. It’s becoming increasingly common for drivers hold responsibility for their own vehicles, as many are becoming owner/operators. In other words, these drivers own their own truck, and are hired by trucking companies as independent contractors to complete a job. Drivers like this arrangement because they make more money per job. Companies like it because they don’t have to assume any of the liability for the condition of the truck or driver error.

While it isn’t always the case, most of the time an owner-operator will hold either the entirety or the majority of the liability for an accident if it’s deemed that they’re at fault. However, if the accident is caused by something like a loose piece of cargo falling out of the truck, the driver may not be liable. In this case, if the owner of the trailer was the one who loaded and prepared the cargo for pickup, then they could be liable still.

The Operator

In some cases, the driver isn’t the one who’s actually responsible for the truck at all—the company that owns it is. Trucking companies are responsible for everything from the cargo they load to their trucks to the condition of the trucks and trailers, to the training and certification of their drivers. Thus, they assume pretty all responsibility for accidents that their trucks cause. The good news is that these companies often carry extensive insurance policies, so you can pursue them for damages and know that there’s a good chance you’ll recover what you’ve lost. The bad news is that this is often a difficult battle, which is why you should absolutely make sure you have a Martin County injury attorney on your side for.

The Cargo Owner

We mentioned this situation briefly before, but there’s a special case in which a third party may be involved. If a truck is driven by an owner/operator, that owner operator is pretty much only required to pick up the load at its origin, and then deliver it to where it needs to go. What they may not do is bother to take the time to inspect the load that they’re carrying. They may not open up the trailer to ensure everything’s secured properly or tied in a way that will prevent it from falling over. Furthermore, they may not check to ensure that all of the tires on a trailer are in good condition and suitable for the long haul ahead.

In an instance where the load itself is responsible for the accident that you’ve been injured in, then the owner/operator may not be the liable one, but rather the company responsible for the load being hauled. In this case, they may be the ones you have to pursue for the damages you’ve sustained.

If you’ve been injured in a commercial trucking accident, call our Martin County truck accident attorneys at Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC! Dial (866) 675-4427 now to request a consultation.