Who is Liable for a Semi-Truck or Big Rig Crash?

Determining liability and who is responsible in a truck accident can be exceptionally difficult. The trucking industry includes a wide variety of players. Naturally, this makes determining liability more complex.

Determining Who is Liable

Several parties may be responsible for your injuries and damages. They are the following:

    • The Driver
    • The Owner of the Truck (may or may not be the driver)
    • The Owner of the Trailer
    • The Supplier
    • Parties Responsible for Parts and Maintenance on the Truck
    • The Driver’s Employer
    • Outside Parties

As you seek compensation from an accident, it may be necessary to contact any or all of these individuals or groups. The parties commonly involved in truck accident cases include the following:

The Driver

Due to the negligence of operating and driving a truck, the driver may be the at-fault party. Some truck drivers, especially those who work on contract, carry their own insurance policies. Even if the driver does not have a separate insurance policy, he or she will be a party to the case.

Truck Owner

It is not unusual for a truck driver to be an owner operator of the vehicle. If the owner is a separate party, they still will be a relevant party to the case. As the owner of the vehicle in question, they may be responsible for giving permission to the driver and the actions of the driver. The State of California requires truck owners to carry insurance. It does not matter if they are not the driver of the truck.

Trailer Owner

The owner of the trailer may be different than the owner of the tractor. If the trailer did not have proper working signals or safety devices to stop a car from going underneath it, then the trailer owner may be the responsible party for the accident. It is important to identify the owner of the trailer, since they may be named a party to the lawsuit.

The Supplier/Cargo Owner

The cargo carried in the semi-truck could have an impact on an accident. For example, the cargo load could fall out of the truck while it is driving and cause a collision. In this situation, the owner of the cargo could be liable for the accident. They may also have their own insurance company that is relevant to the case.

Responsible Parties for Maintenance

A semi-truck is a complicated machine. It is plausible that faulty components or shoddy repair are contributing factors in the accident. Maintenance people and technicians are often held liable for a truck accident if their work was not up to par. If a third party performs the maintenance on the truck, there may be separate insurance coverage.

The Driver’s Employer

In many truck accident cases, the employer of the truck driver who caused the accident is liable for injuries and damages. This is due to the theory of vicarious liability. The state of California requires trucking companies to carry insurance for this very reason.

Outside Parties

One of the big parties that may be responsible for an 18-wheeler or big rig accident is a state or federal government agency. The condition of a roadway could be the cause of a collision. The reasoning could be for lack of lighting or sideways, or the layout of the road creates a dangerous condition. An investigator should inspect a roadway for dangerous conditions as soon as possible. The statute of limitations against a governmental agency is short.

Determining who is liable for a truck accident is one of the most complicated aspects of a case. For this reason, having an attorney can be a huge benefit. An experienced truck accident attorney will act as a guide and ensure you are compensated for injuries and damages. Contact Michael Beliz today for a free consultation on your case.