Liability in Large Truck Accidents

Liability in Large Truck AccidentsWhen a large truck, such as a semi-truck or 18-wheeler, is fully loaded, it can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds. The weight and size of large trucks make them harder to stop and control on the roads. Not only can this make large trucks susceptible to accidents, but it also makes them more destructive in accidents, causing devastating damage and injuries to those involved.

If you have been involved in an accident with a large truck, you may be entitled to receive compensation for the damages. Each year, medical expenses and loss of wages from the injuries caused in a truck accident total approximately $99 billion. This is not including the noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, which cannot be valued in terms of dollars. You may wonder, who is it that pays these costs? This depends on liability.

Legal Duty of Truck Drivers

Both commercial and non-commercial truck drivers are required to abide by state and federal trucking laws and regulations. Some of the laws and regulations specific to truck drivers include:

  • Commercial drivers’ license: All large truck drivers must carry a proper commercial drivers’ license and adhere to the case law and state statutes.
  • Hours of Service: There are strict regulations on the number of hours a truck driver can work without taking a break and resting.
  • Permitted Weight: Each truck size has a different maximum weight limit. Including a truck’s load, the weight must not exceed the limit.
  • Quality Control: Commercial trucks are regulated to ensure there are no defects. All parts of the truck must function properly and in accordance state and federal laws

In addition, truck drivers have a duty to obey all traffic laws, drive defensively, and act reasonably as a driver. In fact, truck drivers generally have a greater duty and are bound to extraordinary care and diligence on the road. When failure to adhere to any of these laws and regulations results in an accident, the truck driver can be considered responsible for negligence. In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove that the driver breached his duty by violating a law or regulation or by acting carelessly or with intent.

Liability

After fault is determined in a truck accident, you must then determine liability. Liability in a truck accident often depends on the status of the truck driver, such as whether the driver is an employee of a trucking company or an independent contractor.
If the truck driver is employed by a trucking company, then the company can be found legally liable under the theory of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability essentially means that if the employee was working within the scope of employment during the accident, then the company is held liable for damages sustained in the accident. In such case, the insurance provider of the company will usually settle the claims.

If the truck driver is an independent contractor, then the driver is, in most cases, held liable for the accident. In this case, the damages and compensation from the accident will go through the driver’s liability insurance.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Even if you are entitled to compensation for damages and injuries sustained in an accident, receiving a settlement isn’t always so easy. Because truck accidents can cause such great damage monetarily, there are many complexities involved in liability, and there is likely to be a strong defense. Having an experienced attorney, like a trucking accident lawyer New York NY trusts, can ease some of the burdensload by helping navigate the legal process. In addition, he or she can protect your legal rights and interests, as well as work on your behalf to improve your chances of winning a fair settlement.

Thanks to our friends or contributors from Law Offices of Laurence C. Tarowsky for their insight into truck accident cases.

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