Who Is Liable for Tractor Trailer Crashes?

Truck crashes, when they occur, leave a trail of destruction behind them. This is because these multi-ton machines, moving at speeds of up to 80 miles per hour, create a force that is unmatched by any other vehicle that is on our roads. 18-wheeler crashes are becoming more common every day. This is due to the increased need for goods to be delivered every day. On top of which, the trucks are moving at a faster pace than ever before. These two items combined are pushing the trucking industry to its limits. The main question that occurs following an accident accident that involves an 18-wheeler is "Who is liable?" In many cases, there are a number of people that can be liable for the accident.

The Driver

The most common individual to be liable for an accident is the driver of the 18-wheeler. In most cases, the individual driver will, as a minimum, be named in the lawsuit. This is because the driver is the one to have supposedly caused the injuries that were the result of the accident.

The important pieces of information in your case regarding the liability of the driver are if the driver was an employee of a major trucking company, if the driver was driving his or her private truck on their own, or if the driver was driving for a major hauling company but as an independent contractor. Each of these situations could make a difference as to who will be liable ultimately for your injuries.

The Trucking Company

The other key person that could be liable is the company for whom the truck driver is working. This is only applicable if the driver is working as an employee of that company. It is important to note that working for a major company may not be enough to bring the trucking company into the case. The truck driver, in many cases, needs to have been driving their truck when it hits an individual car in a way that is directly related to a job. Specifically, the truck driver in many cases cannot have been driving the truck on his own. There needs to have been a load in the trailer or going to or from the loading dock. If these situations are not met, the trucking company, in many instances, will leave the truck driver out on his or her own.

All of this comes down to is insurance. Depending on who is named as liable for the accident, an individual will be covered by either the truck driver's insurance plan or the carrier's plan. If the driver is operating of his own accord, he will have his own insurance plan that will most likely cover injuries and damages to a certain dollar amount. If the driver was operating the vehicle as an employee of a trucking company, then the trucking company's insurance policy will, in most cases, be a party to any lawsuit as well.

changed January 9, 2009