Each year, thousands of individuals are killed and tens of thousands are seriously injured in trucking accidents. Semi-trucks are massive vehicles that can weigh in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded, making them a potentially deadly force on the roadways, and cars and other passenger vehicles that are involved in collisions with 18-wheelers usually sustain the lion’s share of the property damage and injuries.
Almost 70% of those who are killed in crashes with commercial trucks are occupants of the passenger vehicle, with another 10% to 15% being bicyclists, motorcyclist, and pedestrians. Only about 15% to 20% of those killed in truck accidents are occupants of the large commercial vehicle.
Who is Responsible for a Truck Accident in Alabama?
Trucking accidents are among the most complicated types of personal injury cases, because of the number of parties that may be involved. For example, if the accident is the fault of the truck driver, the trucking company who hired the driver may also share liability. It is important to look at all parties that may be liable, so that the injured party receives maximum compensation, and so that those responsible are held fully accountable for their actions.
Here are some of the parties that someone who is injured in an accident with a commercial truck could go after:
The Truck Driver
Driver negligence is a major contributing factor in a large number of commercial vehicle accidents. And in a truck accident case, proving that the driver violated federal or state trucking regulations leading up to the accident can help demonstrate fault. Examples of commercial trucking violations include:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs (DUI);
- Hours of service violations (i.e., driving too long without taking a break);
- Traffic violations such as speeding, driving recklessly, distracted driving, etc.
The Trucking Company
The company that employs the driver or contracted with them to make the delivery may also be responsible for the accident. Trucking companies will often try to avoid liability by claiming that the driver is an independent contractor rather than an employee. However, just because the company says the driver is an independent contractor, this does not necessarily mean it is true.
For example, even if the company does not withhold taxes and provide workers’ compensation, unemployment, and health insurance benefits, the driver may still be an employee if they are required to display a company placard in the vehicle and/or they make deliveries exclusively for this trucking company. An experienced truck accident lawyer can thoroughly examine the relationship between the driver and the trucking company to determine if the trucking company can be held responsible for the accident.
The Cargo/Shipping Company
Some commercial trucking accidents happen because the truck was overloaded (beyond allowed weight limits) or loaded unevenly, causing the truck to rollover or tip to its side. When this is the case, the shipping company that loaded the truck may be partially responsible for the accident, particularly if they violated cargo loading rules.
The Designer or Manufacturer of a Faulty Vehicle or Vehicle Part
If the defective vehicle or defective vehicle part played a role in the accident, it may be possible to bring a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, or another party in the supply chain. Common product defects that can cause truck accidents include tire blowouts, brake line failures, computer dashboard malfunctions, and steering system failures.
The Party Responsible for Maintaining the Truck
Big rig trucks put on thousands of miles over-the-road in a typical month. But sometimes, in a rush to get them back on the road in time to meet tight and often unrealistic schedules, they are not serviced properly. Truck maintenance is essential to keeping the vehicle in safe working order, and when the party who is in charge of maintenance fails in this duty, they can also be held responsible if a preventable mechanical failure plays a role in the accident.
Contact a Seasoned Alabama Truck Accident Lawyer
If you or someone close to you was injured in a commercial trucking accident, you may be wondering who you can sue and how the process works. As mentioned previously, truck accident cases are extremely complex, and there are numerous factors that must be looked at in order to ensure that you receive maximum compensation.
First and foremost, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney to review the case and discuss your rights and legal options. Representatives from the other side will likely contact you very soon after the accident, hoping to get you to agree to far less than what the case is worth. Do NOT discuss the case with anyone from the other side without first talking to your lawyer.
At Mann & Potter, P.C., we have years of experience successfully representing individuals who have been injured in truck accidents in Alabama. We have in-depth knowledge of this area of the law, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward recovering the full and fair compensation our clients need and deserve.
Contact our Birmingham office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation and case assessment.