Who is legally responsible in 18-wheeler accidents?

Fatal accidents involving large trucks are on the rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities increased by 12% from 2008 to 2017 and by 9% just from 2016 to 2017.

If a truck driver crashes into you, there may be multiple parties you can hold legally responsible, depending on the accident's circumstances.

The driver

Of course, the first person to look at is the driver. Was the person drunk, drowsy or distracted? Was he or she speeding or violating another traffic law? If the driver committed an obvious offense, he or she would be the primary responsible party.

The trucking company

The company that hired the driver may also be at fault. For example, the driver may have a history of drunk driving or traffic tickets that the employer ignored. The company may not have trained the driver sufficiently on safety and accident prevention. After all, maneuvering an 18-wheeler takes different skills than operating a passenger car.

Trucking companies are also notorious for imposing challenging time constraints on drivers. The driver may have been drowsy trying to meet a tight deadline so as not to lose his or her job.

The truck owner

The driver, company or another person may own the truck. This party bears responsibility for maintaining the vehicle to ensure its safety on the road. Failure to do so can add the party to the list of those you may sue.

The mechanic

Perhaps the owner followed a regular maintenance schedule. If the mechanic who serviced the truck made a mistake, he or she may also be at fault.

The manufacturer

Did a defective part cause the crash? Then the manufacturer would be responsible.

The cargo loader

Usually, another party loads the truck. If improper cargo loading led to the accident, this party would share in the liability.

The city

Sometimes, the driver was not intentionally negligent or reckless, but another condition, such as weather or poor roads, was a contributing factor. If the city failed to keep the roads safe, as is within its scope, you may also hold it accountable.

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