Who May Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?

Who May Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?


When a truck accident happens, the results can be catastrophic. Unlike car accidents, the laws protecting drivers and passengers in truck crashes aren't always clear and straightforward.

Truck accidents involve a third party in most cases, and the liable party could be the driver's employer, the trucking company, or another automobile driver. Understanding the state's legal statutes about accident liability is crucial in appointing the appropriate parties in a truck accident.

Our firm at Ryan LLP is skilled at handling and resolving cases related to truck accidents. Our roster of knowledgeable lawyers can advise you on your legal rights in cases of truck accidents. We can help you from the initial consultation to the filing of a personal injury lawsuit. Contact us to start your free consultation with our legal team.

Determining Liability in Truck Accident Cases Is Challenging

Truck accident cases can be particularly challenging for many reasons. The sheer size of the vehicle and the improperly loaded cargo make it difficult for drivers to see other cars on the road. Furthermore, the impact can be devastating when a truck hits another vehicle or motorcycle – or worse, a pedestrian or bicyclist.

In most states, the responsibility of proving "fault" in an accident lies on the victim. The victim must manifest feasible proof to hold the appropriate party accountable for the accident and recover damages. Here are some of the parties a victim can hold responsible for his injuries and other damages.

The Driver or Truck Operator


After an accident, the driver of a commercial truck owns the primary liability of care. Even though mistakes happen, drivers of big trucks have more responsibility for safe driving. There are several grounds for holding truck drivers accountable, such as in cases of:

  • DUI/drugged driving (including prescription medications)
  • Texting while driving
  • Speeding or too-fast driving
  • Driving distracted (by cell phone use or other distractions)
  • Ignoring traffic lights
  • Drowsy or sleepy driving
  • Reckless or aggressive driving (may include tailgating, cutting other drivers off, swerving, or other dangerous maneuvers)

Your experienced truck accident lawyer will also have to look into how the trucker's actions may have been influenced (or forced) by the company employing them.

The Trucking Company or the Driver's Employer

When trucking companies employ a driver, they assume responsibility for the driver's activities. Conducting a background check, providing driving assessments, and implementing random drug tests are expected from these employers when they source for a commercial truck driver.

If the trucking company doesn't do these safety measures and the driver causes a commercial truck accident, the company is also partly to blame. This is an example of respondeat superior, which says that "a party is responsible for the actions of its agents." In this case, the company is in charge of what its truck drivers do.

The Truck or Truck Parts Manufacturer


Some truck accidents happen when the truck or one of its parts is defective. Some scenarios of faulty truck parts leading to accidents are as follows: 

  • When a tire blows out;
  • The brakes don't work;
  • The steering or coupling (kingpin) systems don't work right. 

These situations could be attributed to a lack of truck maintenance. However, if the defective truck part was faulty from the beginning, the victim could impose a product liability lawsuit against the truck manufacturer.

The Truck Owner

Not all commercially available trucks are under a company; in some cases, companies rent these vehicles from an individual. In instances where an accident transpires because of the truck owner's lack of maintenance care, they can be held liable for the accident.

The truck's owner is in charge of servicing the truck, ensuring all of its parts work well, and doing general maintenance. Depending on the nature of the accident, proving the fault of an individual truck owner is often challenging as they are sometimes considered a third party.

A Third-party Involvement


Several vendors may outsource the hiring, administrative, and operative processes based on the extent of a carrier's operations. These external parties may be held liable for a truck accident if their carelessness led to truck accident. Some of the outsourced operations might include:

  • Outsourcing recruitment agencies to conduct the truck driver hiring process.
  • Partnering with a maintenance service to perform routine truck part maintenance.
  • Outsourcing manpower, such as cargo loaders, to temporarily improve workforce productivity.

However, these parties might set up a legally-binding document exempting them from accident liabilities. It's vital to investigate these cases in depth to identify the appropriate party and take proper legal actions.

How Can You Identify Which Party Is Liable?

Multiple parties may be responsible for a truck accident, and the responsible party will vary depending on the circumstances of your accident. If you were injured in a truck accident, it is crucial to determine which parties must answer to the injuries you suffered from the accident.

Only experienced truck accident attorneys know where to seek evidence to prove fault efficiently. More than one person is often accountable for an accident, and many corporations destroy or block access to evidence to avoid responsibility, complicating matters.

A skilled attorney can help you use the statutes of the law to recover feasible evidence solidifying your accident claim. Moreover, they can also help you conduct a meticulous investigation of your case, ensuring that no stones are left unturned.

What Evidence Can You Use To Prove a Truck Accident Claim?


The most crucial part of any truck accident claim is evidence. But what evidence can you use to prove a truck accident claim? A truck accident lawyercan give you the answers you need.

There are many types of evidence that you can present in the case of a trucking accident, including:

Photographic Evidence

A vital part of proving fault is locating witnesses and securing photographic evidence. When taking photos of the accident, ensure you take a sufficient amount. Some victims face a problem proving truck accident claims because they lack viable proof.

This lack of feasible evidence weakens their claim, and the opposing party may issue a counterclaim for false accusations or misleading claims.

Rear or Front Cam Footage

A rear or front cam footage is another compelling example of feasible evidence a victim can use against the defendant. If you have a dashboard cam set up in your car, you can use this to strengthen your claim. Additionally, your lawyer can help you recover footage from the other party's dashboard footage.

GPS Tracking

Most trucking companies install their semi-trucks with GPS devices to track where the goods are during deliveries. GPS or Global Positioning System provides an accurate representation of the truck's landmark and confirms their participation in the accident. Obtaining this information is crucial when the truck company or the truck driver is denying involvement in the accident.

Truck Dispatch Records

In trucking accidents, the victim may use the dispatch records to show details about the delivery. The documents could reveal the driver's delivery activity, where they traveled, and other relevant transit information. This evidence is also helpful in identifying if the trucking company is overworking its drivers.

Black Box Footage

EDRs or event data recorders, also known as black boxes, contain critical information about the truck and the accident. Truck black boxes work similarly to planes; these small devices record everything before the accident occurs. Recovering black box footage could help you establish the truck driver's liability in the accident.

The Comparative Negligence Law May Affect Your Compensation

Different states implement different comparative negligence laws. For the context of this blog, we'll use Ohio as our example.

In Ohio, the state follows a modified comparative negligence system when resolving shared fault in a personal injury case. According to this law, victims who share more than 51% of the accident liability may not recover compensation.

Suppose the victim is found less than 50% at fault for the accident. In that case, the court will deduct the amount of shared responsibility to their recoverable damages.

For example, the victim recovers $100,000 in total damages from the accident. However, after a thorough investigation, the court found them 10% at fault for the accident. In that case, the victim's party will only receive $90,000 as damage compensation.

A Truck Accident Attorney Can Protect Your Rights


An experienced truck accident attorney in your area can help you identify the liable parties appropriately and negotiate a fair settlement value for your truck accident case.

A truck accident attorney understands the ins and outs of trucking laws and how insurance companies operate. They know how best to gather evidence from trucks involved in crashes and can use this information to prove that a truck was not being adequately cared for or operated safely before the crash.

An attorney also knows how to speak with other drivers who witnessed the crash or who have been involved in it themselves, helping to get a comprehensive view of what happened that day.

In addition to helping you obtain a settlement after an accident, an excellent truck accident attorney can protect you if the opposing driver tries to file a counterclaim against you.

Contact A Team of Truck Accident Lawyers


The trucking industry is notorious for causing life-threatening injuries. Because of the intricate nature of these cases, you must begin your claims process by contacting an attorney familiar with the unique aspects of truck accidents.

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