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Who Could be Liable for a Truck Accident?

A traffic accident that involves a commercial truck is often more severe than a collision between passenger vehicles. Because of a commercial truck’s heavy weight and the cargo it may be carrying, these types of accidents can result in serious injuries or death.

Because several parties are involved in the preparation and operation of a commercial truck, these kinds of accident claims can be complex, and determining liability for an accident caused by negligence can be complicated.

For this reason, it is important to know which parties can be held accountable for a commercial truck accident. Henness & Haight’s Las Vegas truck accident attorneys are experienced in handling claims involving commercial vehicles and understand the trucking industry.

Based on the cause of your truck accident, we may be able to hold multiple parties liable for your damages, including:

Truck Drivers

Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has strict requirements for applicants to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL), driver error is often the most the most common cause of truck accidents.

According to the FMCSA, drivers of commercial vehicles are 10 times more likely to cause an accident than weather conditions, road hazards or vehicle maintenance issues.

Situations where driver error can cause a commercial truck accident include:

Failing to Anticipate Upcoming Hazards in the Roadway

Commercial truck drivers are required to be focused on the roadway and should expect changes in upcoming traffic or the road’s condition.

This means commercial truck drivers should remain attentive and aware of any occurrences on the road. If our attorneys discover that a commercial truck driver caused an accident because he or she was distracted, we may be able to hold the driver liable for the damages.

Violating Traffic Laws

Commercial truck drivers are expected to follow the same traffic laws as other motorists sharing the roadway. This means refraining from violating Nevada’s traffic laws or driving in an erratic, reckless or negligent manner.

If you believe the commercial truck driver involved in your accident was driving recklessly, we will review the vehicle’s Event Data Recorder, or “black box,” to examine the driver’s speed before the accident.

Substance Abuse

Commercial truck drivers are heavily regulated by the FMCSA and cannot consume drugs or alcohol while operating a vehicle.

The FMCSA requires trucking companies to investigate a driver’s background for drug or alcohol violations before making a hiring decision. Additionally, trucking companies are also required to perform random drug and alcohol tests on their drivers to ensure they are not intoxicated while on duty and after an accident.

If a driver tests positive for drugs or alcohol or refuses to comply with a random screening, he or she is prohibited from operating a commercial vehicle.

Our attorneys will review the driver’s drug and alcohol testing record to discover violations he or she may have and identify a possible history of substance abuse. If a driver is found to have a blood-alcohol concentration of .04 percent or higher at the time of your accident, he or she can be held liable for any damages that occurred.

Driver Fatigue

Trucking companies often impose unrealistic deadlines on drivers to reach a destination. This practice is illegal and the FMCSA imposes strict regulations on the number of hours a driver may operate a vehicle.

This is to ensure the driver is meeting the required “hours of service rule,” which regulates the number of hours a driver can operate a vehicle in a given day.

Generally, commercial truck drivers can only drive a maximum of 11 hours per day, only if he or she has spent 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Additionally, commercial truck drivers cannot drive a vehicle after remaining on duty for 60 hours in a consecutive 10-day period. Once a driver reaches this limit, he or she must spend a minimum of 34 consecutive hours off duty before driving a commercial vehicle.

Trucking companies are required to enforce these restricted hours on their drivers, who must keep the number of hours and time of day they drove. We can obtain this log to find out if a driver violated these required hours of operation and driver fatigue may have caused your accident.

Trucking Companies

The trucking carrier may also be held liable for the truck accident. Some situations that may cause a trucking company to be held liable for an accident include:

  • Failing to properly train its drivers
  • Hiring a driver who is unqualified or does not have a CDL
  • Hiring a driver who has a poor driving record, drug and alcohol violations, or other serious infractions

A trucking company will often try to distance itself from the factors that caused a truck accident in order to avoid liability.

However, our attorneys will review the trucking company’s records to determine if it had any role in causing the accident. This includes analyzing employment records and the level of control the company had on the driver’s route and schedule.

We will also check the commercial vehicle’s registration to find out which party owns the vehicle and is responsible for performing routine maintenance and inspections.

Defective Equipment Manufacturers

Aside from driver error, defective parts and mechanical issues are among the most common causes of truck accidents.

Many mechanical issues that cause truck accidents are caused by a failure to maintain the vehicle or properly inspect the truck’s equipment. Some examples of a commercial truck’s mechanical failures include:

  • Brake failure
  • Improper trailer attachment
  • Tire blowout
  • Defective or inadequate vehicle lighting
  • Defective or broken hitches that secure the vehicle’s cargo
  • Defective or malfunctioning steering wheel
  • Transmission failure

The FMCSA requires companies that own commercial trucks to perform scheduled maintenance inspections to ensure the vehicle is safe for road use. Additionally, drivers are also required to perform daily inspections on their trucks and trailer equipment.

Any maintenance performed on a commercial truck must be logged and recorded by the party performing the inspection. Our attorneys will obtain these logs to find out if the vehicle involved in your truck accident was adequately maintained before it was approved for road use.

Loading Companies

Another party that can be held liable for a truck accident is the loader or shipper of the vehicle’s cargo. The party tasked with loading the truck’s cargo is responsible for ensuring the cargo is properly sealed and contained to prevent its contents from spilling or falling during the vehicle’s travels.

If a truck’s cargo falls or causes the truck to tip over from improper distribution of the content’s weight, the party responsible for loading the truck can be held liable for the accident.

Our truck accident attorneys will check any records or contracts between the company that owns the commercial truck and the supplier of its cargo to find out which one was responsible for securing its contents.

Legal Help for Victims of Truck Accidents

If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a truck accident, it is important that you file a claim as soon as possible.

Our experienced truck accident attorneys will work to investigate your collision to determine if one or multiple parties are responsible for causing the accident and can be held liable for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

We can review your claim through a free, no obligation consultation to find out if you have a valid case that entitles you to compensation. Also, we only work on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not require any upfront fees and only get paid if we recover compensation for your claim.