Who is liable in a trucking accident?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2022 | Motor vehicle accidents

Commercial trucks are crucial to the American economy. They allow for quick and relatively affordable transportation of everything from raw milk to motor vehicles. Unfortunately, they must share the road with far smaller vehicles.

What a commercial vehicle collides with a passenger vehicle, the results can be tragic. Huge commercial vehicles can demolish passenger vehicles and cause life-altering, if not fatal, injuries to the occupants. With such significant damage will come massive bills.

Those hurt in a crash will usually need to file an insurance claim and may sometimes also need to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. Who likely has liability for your losses after a crash with a big commercial truck?

Who is at fault for the wreck?

To determine who ultimately has liability, you have to consider who or what technically caused the crash. Looking at collision statistics can be a good starting point for that process. Commercial trucks are responsible for approximately 55% of all crashes, including single-vehicle wrecks, involving these big vehicles. When a commercial truck is to blame for a collision, 87% of the time the driver will be the one ultimately at fault for the crash.

In roughly 10% of the crashes, the vehicle is ultimately to blame. Another 3% are the result of environmental factors. Most of the time, the truck driver will be the one at fault. This will open the door to an insurance claim and possibly a civil claim against the driver. In rare cases, such as negligent hiring or training practices, the employer may have some responsibility as well.

Sometimes, a business is responsible

In that 10% of commercial crashes that occur because of vehicle issues, the company that maintains a vehicle may ultimately be liable. In some cases, the client that hired the truck to transport materials could be responsible if their employees loaded the vehicle improperly, causing the driver to lose control. Other times, it’s the transportation company that has liability.

A driver won’t be the one taking care of the brakes or the tires on a truck. Their employer will usually maintain the fleet. The exception to this rule is owner-operators, who are responsible for their own vehicle maintenance.

Thinking about who might be liable for a truck crash can help you look into the insurance coverage available and determine the right steps to take.