Commercial trucks often carry a tremendous amount of mass, due to both their sheer size and the cargo they carry. Combining this with highway speeds and you have the potential for deadly crashes when something goes wrong. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 37,461 people lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes 2016. Of these, 4,317 were killed in crashes involving large trucks, including semi-trucks and tractor trailers.
Potential defendants in your truck accident lawsuit
Seeking to recover compensation in the wake of a truck accident is a more complex endeavor than filing a standard claim after a typical two vehicle motor vehicle accident. The damage associated with truck crashes is often more extensive with more complex causes, higher insurance limits, and potentially multiple liable parties.
The potential at fault parties if you have suffered a personal injury or the wrongful death of a loved one due to a tractor-trailer crash include:
- Truck Driver. The driver of an 18-wheeler may be liable for operating a truck with negligence due to speeding, driving recklessly, failing to yield, running a red light or stop sign, or tailgating. Contribute factors may also include distracted driving by texting, driving while fatigued, or drug or alcohol use. Drivers can also be held responsible for a crash if they neglect duties such as maintenance and inspection of the truck, and loading and handling cargo.
- Trucking company. Trucking companies can be held liable for the negligence of its own drivers as well as its own negligence. For instance, the company may have failed to properly supervise or train its drivers, or it may have hired unqualified or unlicensed drivers. A trucking company can be negligent if it encourages its drivers to violate safety regulations such as hours-of-service rules. The company may also carry responsibility for a crash if it fails to properly repair or maintain the trucks in its fleet.
- Insurance company or broker. An insurer may be held negligent if it had any responsibility in evaluating or hiring an unqualified or dangerous driver. A broker who matches a trucker or truck carrier with the shipping company may also be liable for crash if the trucker drives dangerously and causes injury to another party on the road. Plaintiffs may sue the trucking company’s insurance company directly for compensation following a trucking accident that results in serious or fatal injuries.
- Shipping company. A shipping company that fails to properly load and secure cargo it has taken control of (particularly hazardous materials), or cargo that exceeds weight limits, may be held liable. This is particularly true if the cargo was sealed at the time.
- Truck manufacturer. If defective parts in a truck have been found to cause a crash, the truck manufacturer may be held liable for the incident and any resulting injuries. Possible defective components of the truck include brakes, axles, tires, and gears.
A quick note about suing government entities
Government agencies (local, state, or federal) may be held liable if a roadway with defects due to poor design or inadequate maintenance caused a truck crash. Defects may include potholes, deteriorating medians or shoulders, or defective or missing guardrails. Claims against the government have very different statutes, and making a successful claim may prove more difficult than you might anticipate. It is important to work with a skilled and experienced truck crash lawyer in these cases in order to fight effectively for the compensation you or your loved one deserves in the aftermath of a crash injury.
At Gainsberg Law, we understand the devastation you may be experiencing if you have been injured in a commercial truck crash. Your medical bills may be mounting and you may be accumulating lost wages due to your inability to work. Our Chicago truck crash attorneys are able to investigate the incident thoroughly and prepare a strong case to fight for the compensation you need at this time. Call us today at 312.313.1621 or reach us through our contact form to request a free, initial consultation.