Are Truck Drivers Liable for Accidents?
Truck accidents are notoriously complex for a variety of reasons, chief amongst them the potential number of at fault parties. Depending on the specifics of the accident, various individuals and companies may bear some responsibility, and two or more of them may share responsibility. This is why working with an experienced Mississippi truck accident lawyer can be extremely helpful. Truck accidents of all kinds are extremely overwhelming, and an experienced Giddens truck accident lawyer can help you navigate the system while ensuring you get the compensation you deserve, if you were involved in a an accident caused by a truck driver. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
When is a Truck Driver Liable?
The truck driver is not always liable for causing a truck accident, but they certainly may be. Some behaviors that could result in a driver being found liable for an accident include:
- Speeding. In 2019 alone, speeding played a role in nearly 10,000 traffic fatalities across the nation. That’s more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities that year. Speeding is always dangerous and illegal, but the danger is heightened further when a truck is involved. A vehicle of such great size takes longer to reach a complete stop, and speeding lessens the drivers ability to safely stop if and when necessary.
- Driving under the influence. Unfortunately, the use of drugs and alcohol while on the job is all too common in the trucking world. Much of this may have to do with the boredom and loneliness of the job, or the need to stay awake for extremely long stretches of time. In one study, 30% of truckers admitted to using amphetamines, and alcohol use was extremely high. If the truck driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of an accident, it’s almost certain they will be found liable.
- Reckless driving. Reckless driving constitutes any behavior in which a vehicle is operated without a regard for safety, and in such a manner that could put the driver and others in danger. This includes things like unsafe lane changing, unsafe passing, tailgating, running stop signs or traffic lights, and more.
- Distracted driving. The NHTSA defines distracted driving as “any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system”. Texting is perhaps the most common amongst these behaviors, especially with younger drivers. This can have huge consequences; in the second that it takes to glance down at a phone screen, the vehicle can move a great distance, and you are not cognitively or visually able to react to anything on the road. A truck driver that was in any way distracted at the time of the accident could certainly be held responsible.
Who Else Can Be Liable in a Truck Accident?
As mentioned earlier, depending on the specifics of the accident, it’s possible that the truck driver is in fact not the responsible or liable party. The responsibility for the accident may lie with:
- The trucking company. The trucking company is responsible for the proper operation of their trucks while on the road. They are also responsible for ensuring that the drivers they hire or contract are properly trained and able to operate the vehicle safely. If the trucking company is found to have been negligent on any of these fronts, they could be liable for the accident.
- The truck owner. This is often a different entity from the trucking company, and it’s possible they may be found liable depending on the specifics of the case.
- Truck manufacturer or auto parts retailer. If the accident was due to mechanical failure, that may potentially be the fault of the manufacturer (if it was a design issue) or the retailer that carried the part (if the part was damaged while in their care, or if they knowingly sold a faulty part).
- The mechanic. Trucking companies often use third party mechanics to inspect their trucks and keep them up to code. If the mechanic was negligent in their work, or knowingly put a poorly functioning truck back into the hands of the truck company, they could be responsible.
- The municipality. Sometimes, a truck accident can be caused by improper roadway signage or poorly maintained roads. If an 80,000 pound trucks hits a pothole, it’s very possible this could result in an accident. In cases like these, the city, town, or municipality where the truck accident occurred could be responsible.
Who Determines Liability in a Truck Accident?
Sometimes, fault is clear and undeniable, but in other cases, it’s less clear who is truly responsible for the accident. If you were injured in a truck accident, it’s in your best interest to hire an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can advocate for you as you go through the process of dealing with insurance companies, seeking damages, and concretely proving that you were not at fault.
Typically, fault is determined by insurance adjusters. They will likely examine the case in great detail, looking at the police report, photographs of the scene, and speaking to witnesses and all parties involved. From this information, they make an assessment of who is at fault. In a no-fault state, fault is in some ways less crucial, as the injured party receives coverage and compensation through their own insurance company. But in a state with a fault-based system, like Mississippi, the at fault party’s insurance covers the injured party.
Filing a Personal Injury Suit
In a perfect world, the coverage you receive through the insurance company would be enough to meet your needs and adequately compensate you for your injuries and suffering. But unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you have been severely injured, if you’re suffering from long term PTSD, or if you’re experiencing any impact from the accident that is not covered by insurance, you may want to consider filing a personal injury suit against the liable party, whether that’s the truck driver, the trucking company, or another party entirely.
In this way, you can seek damages for your medical bills, your lost wages, your future lowered earning capacity, and even your overall pain and suffering. Your truck accident attorney can review your case and advise you on whether this is the best course of action.
Why Choose a Giddens Law Mississippi Truck Accident Lawyer
At Giddens, we believe that every truck accident victim has a right to justice and a right to compensation. It is our goal to guide you through the overwhelming nature of navigating the aftermath of an accident, and we always do so with compassion and care. We approach each with strength and diligence, will fight tirelessly to get you the best result, and are always available to answer your questions along the way.
Don’t let yourself be intimidated by powerful trucking companies and insurance companies. They may try to take advantage of your vulnerable state to get you to accept a settlement or agree to a degree of fault that is entirely unfair. Contact us today for a free initial case review. We are ready and waiting to protect your interests, and remember: you never pay a penny unless we win for you.
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