Who is Responsible When a Truck Causes an Accident?
It’s an unfortunate statistic. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), there continues to be an alarming number of truck accidents. Let’s just look at reports from 2015 alone. A number of truck accidents from the prior year saw an eight percent increase in fatal crashes. For those who suffered injuries, the numbers went down from 88,000 to 87,000. Although these numbers are national, they are nevertheless disturbing.
Truck accidents happen for a variety of reasons. We’ve talked about jackknife accidents, as well as fatigued truck drivers. Of course, these aren’t the only types of crashes involving big rigs. There’s always the possibility that a tractor trailer is following too closely. Like other motor vehicle operators, they could be guilty of distracted driving. Obviously, these are just some examples of prospective tractor trailer accidents.
Bottom line. An experienced personal injury attorney will review the circumstances of the accident. It may not be just the trucker who is responsible for the motor vehicle wreck. Others may have a share in liability.
For starters, you should know that the trucking industry is guided by rules and regulations found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Individual logistics companies may have additional employee guidelines, but the CFR is the recognized federal authority.
Also, big rig operators are also held to standards by the United States Department of Transportation under the Federal Highway Administration. The New Jersey Department of Transportation has other regulations concerning the transfer of freight.
So, now you have a breakdown of where to find trucking laws. But, who exactly is liable for a trucking accident?
Possible Trucking Accident Defendants
If you are involved in an accident with a truck, your first question will be to identify potential defendants. You might think that the answer is relatively easy. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Trucking company – Who owns the truck?
- Big rig operator – Who was driving the vehicle?
- Leaseholder – Was the truck leased?
- Vehicle manufacturer – Was the accident due to a manufacturing error?
- Trucking maintenance company – Was there a problem with maintenance that caused the crash?
- Loading company – Did a third party load or unload the truck?
- Other parties – Did someone cut off the truck driver and cause the accident? Who else might be responsible for the crash?
In order to determine liability, your attorney will conduct an investigation. However, you can be your best advocate. Make sure to take photographs and secure a copy of the police report. Try to get names of any witnesses. When you are recording information, write down any names that appear in the truck cab and the trailer itself.
At the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone, we have decades of experience helping people involved in truck accidents. If you were injured, we would be happy to review the circumstances. Contact us to schedule an appointment to discuss your case.