When Is the Trucking Company Liable?

Truck accident victims can frequently hold trucking companies legally and financially responsible for employing negligent drivers, failing to maintain their fleet, or violating trucking regulations.

Here’s an overview of some circumstances under which you can hold a trucking company liable for a truck accident and the importance of hiring an experienced truck accident lawyer who knows how to secure the maximum compensation for injured truck crash victims.

Negligent Hiring and Retention

When Is the Trucking Company Liable?Negligent hiring and retention can form the basis for a trucking company’s liability for a truck crash. They occur when a trucking company fails to screen, hire, or retain competent, qualified truck drivers. A trucking company can face liability for an accident traced back to its negligence in hiring or retaining a driver.

For example, you can hold a trucking company liable for a truck accident if the evidence shows it hired or retained a driver with a history of traffic violations, drug or alcohol abuse, or inadequate qualifications or licensing.

You can also hold a company liable if it retained a driver despite knowledge of dangerous conduct, repeated safety violations, or failures to comply with trucking regulations like hours of service requirements.

To prove negligent hiring or retention, a truck accident attorney can secure relevant information on the driver’s background, previous traffic violations, drug and alcohol test results, and employment records.

Additionally, an attorney can look for evidence that the trucking company ignored red flags or failed to take appropriate action when informed about a driver’s dangerous behavior.

Establishing a connection between the trucking company’s negligence and the accident is crucial for a successful claim based on a trucker’s deficient hiring or retention.

Negligent Training and Supervision

Training and supervision of truck drivers ensure they operate commercial vehicles safely and follow relevant regulations. All trucking companies must train and supervise their employees responsibly. Inadequate training or supervision may result in accidents, leading to potential liability for a trucking company.

Examples of negligent training and supervision may include inadequate instruction on vehicle operation, failure to provide safety training or establish operational protocols, disregard for regulatory requirements, or negligence about a driver’s qualifications to operate a truck.

A qualified truck accident attorney can gather evidence demonstrating a trucking company’s failure to provide proper training or oversight to establish liability based on negligent training or supervision.

This may involve collecting training materials, employee records, internal communications, and witness testimony about the company’s day-to-day operations and interactions with its employees. As mentioned above, a lawyer must prove a connection between the lack of training and supervision and the events that triggered the truck accident.

Negligent Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection

By law, trucking companies must maintain and regularly inspect their vehicles to avoid accidents because of mechanical failures. Companies that fail to keep their truck fleets in roadworthy condition can face liability for accidents owing to breakdowns or equipment malfunctions.

Failure to maintain or inspect trucks properly can lead to mechanical failures. Common equipment-related causes of truck crashes include blown tires, faulty braking, electrical shorts that extinguish running lights, and broken door latches leading to spilled cargo.

To demonstrate a trucking company’s liability based on poor maintenance or inspection, a truck crash lawyer might collect evidence of inadequate maintenance practices or missed inspections, such as repair records, mechanics’ reports, and expert testimony from truck accident investigators.

A finding of liability will depend on proving a link between the vehicle’s poor condition and the crash circumstances.

Negligent Cargo Loading and Securement

Proper cargo loading and securement are vital in the trucking industry to ensure the safety of both the truck driver and other road users. Trucking companies can face liability when incorrectly loaded or inadequately secured cargo shifts or spills during transit cause an accident.

Accidents due to improper cargo loading or securement include rollovers or loss of control when shifting cargo that makes a truck unstable, explosions or spills of flammable or toxic cargo, and collisions resulting from cargo falling or spilling onto a road. Cargo-related accidents can lead to severe injuries, fatalities, and significant property damage.

Holding a trucking company liable based on cargo-related issues may involve analyzing the company’s process for loading cargo, interviewing its employees, examining cargo manifests and weight tickets, and reviewing crash footage for signs of shifting or spilled cargo.

What Is Vicarious Liability (Respondeat Superior)?

Vicarious liability, also known as respondeat superior, is a legal doctrine that holds employers responsible for the actions of their employees or agents conducted within the scope of their employment. In the context of trucking accidents, a trucking company can be vicariously liable for the actions of its drivers that lead to a crash. In other words, the company can owe you damages for your crash injuries even if it did nothing wrong in hiring, retaining, training, supervising a driver, or maintaining the truck and its cargo.

To establish vicarious liability, a truck accident attorney must prove that the trucking company employed the at-fault trucker, that the accident happened while the trucker was performing job duties, and that the trucker’s unreasonably dangerous decisions, actions, or inactions caused the crash.

For example, a trucking company can be vicariously liable for an accident because a driver was speeding to meet a delivery schedule, fell asleep at the wheel while making a long-haul trip, or failed to look both ways before pulling out of a cargo depot. Most truck accidents involve a potential vicarious liability claim because crashes usually happen during the truck’s commercial operation.

Liability Due to Failure to Comply With Trucking Regulations

As mentioned above, the trucking industry has strict regulations. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations govern various safety-related aspects of trucking operations in interstate commerce, including driver qualifications, hours of service, vehicle maintenance, and hazardous materials transport. State agencies promulgate similar regulations dictating standards for intrastate trucking operations.

A truck crash often signals that a trucking company has violated safety regulations. If so, a legal doctrine known as negligence per se may assist a truck crash victim’s lawyer in proving the company’s liability.

Under that doctrine, a violation of law will establish liability if it leads to the kind of accident it mentions. That’s often the case with violations of trucking regulations, many of which exist to protect the public and ensure safe operations.

Relying on negligence per se to prove a trucking company’s liability can often simplify and strengthen your case. If your attorney can gather and present clear evidence of a regulatory violation, the trucking company may have little choice but to acknowledge liability for your losses.

Potential Compensation for Truck Accident Injuries

The law may entitle you to recover various types of damages from a trucking company after you get hurt in a truck crash. You can seek compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial harm you suffered from any party liable for your losses.

This can include compensation for your:

  • Medical expenses in treating crash-related injuries and health complications.
  • Other expenses tied to living with or adapting to your injuries.
  • Costs of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle or other personal property.
  • Lost income and job benefits from missing work due to your injury.
  • Loss of future earnings and benefits due to a disability caused by the truck crash.
  • Physical pain and discomfort from an injury or medical treatment.
  • Emotional suffering and mental health challenges of the injury.
  • Diminished enjoyment or quality of life.
  • Loss of independence.
  • Scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.

In cases of particularly egregious trucking company negligence or misbehavior, a court might also award you punitive (or exemplary) damages to punish the company and deter similar misconduct by others.

Various factors can affect the number of damages awarded in a personal injury case against a trucking company, including the severity of your injuries, their impact on your ability to work, go to school, live independently, or enjoy daily activities; the level and cost of medical care you need today and in the future; and the degree of negligence or fault attributed to each party involved in the accident.

The amount you can expect to recover from the trucking company might also depend on the availability of company assets or insurance coverage to pay for your losses, the number of other victims who also have claims against the company, and whether the company takes steps to avoid its liability for your losses by (for example) filing for bankruptcy.

Why You Need an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer

If you’ve suffered injuries in a truck accident, you need an experienced truck accident lawyer to secure maximum compensation from a trucking company. Sometimes, a lawyer might determine whether you recover any damages from a trucking company.

Here are just some of the reasons why you must hire a skilled truck accident attorney.

An experienced truck accident lawyer knows the relevant trucking industry laws and regulations that apply to your case and can use them to your advantage. As discussed, proving the violation of a regulation can establish a trucking company’s liability for your losses. But of course, your lawyer must be familiar with those laws and rules to spot the ones a trucking company may have broken.

A skilled truck accident lawyer has the credentials and connections with industry experts to investigate the truck crash and identify the parties liable for your damages.

You need a lawyer who knows where to look for evidence related to the crash and how to preserve it before it goes missing or someone deletes it. Your lawyer should understand trucking operations and best practices well enough to spot critical details that could impact the strength of your case against a trucking company.

Truck accident lawyers also appreciate the complexity and challenges of making a legal claim against a trucking company. Truck accidents often cause widespread damage and injuries. Trucking companies can face millions in potential liabilities and frequently take legal actions to avoid them.

An experienced truck crash attorney can anticipate the maneuvers a trucking company may take to shirk responsibility for your losses and prevent them from succeeding. A lawyer can also identify other parties who may owe you damages and pursue actions against them.

Contact a Lawyer to Hold the Trucking Company Liable

You can hold a trucking company liable for losses you suffer when it has engaged in negligent hiring or retention, training or supervision, vehicle maintenance or inspection, cargo loading or securement, and violation of trucking industry regulations. But proving that liability and holding a trucking company accountable for a crash victim’s losses takes the work of a skilled, experienced truck accident attorney.

If you or someone close to you recently suffered injuries in a truck accident, there’s a good chance a trucking company owes you significant compensation. Don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

Hiring a skilled, seasoned truck accident lawyer immediately maximizes your chances of a full financial recovery and protects you against the actions a trucking company might take to avoid its responsibilities. To hold a trucking company liable for the losses you’ve sustained, contact a lawyer in your area today for a free case consultation.