With auto accidents involving only passenger vehicles, it is usually one of the drivers who caused the collision. Other factors, such as a jaywalking pedestrian or debris on the road, may also contribute to the crash.
However, for accidents with semi-trucks, liability can be broader. The driver may not be the only party at fault, if at all. Any of the following entities could be legally accountable.
Naturally, the likeliest cause is the operator of the tractor trailer. The driver may have engaged in one of these negligent or reckless behaviors:
- Speeding to meet a deadline
- Following others too closely
- Driving while drowsy, drunk or drugged
- Overcorrecting a mistake
- Handling a cellphone or GPS device
While no motorist should do these things, the size and weight of semi-trucks make the behaviors even more dangerous.
Usually truck drivers or the companies they work for own the tractor and trailer. However, sometimes third parties own the vehicle. Regardless of who has ownership, that party must maintain the truck so malfunctions do not lead to accidents. If a third party does the upkeep, then that party may share in liability.
Perhaps the driver of the big rig stayed up-to-date on routine maintenance, but a part was defective. In this case, the manufacturer is responsible for the faulty product that led to the accident.
The driver's employer may be accountable if the company is not meeting industry safety standards. It may be the company that pressured the driver to fulfill an unrealistic delivery date, or perhaps the employer did not do a thorough background check to weed out hires with a dangerous driving history.
The people who loaded and secured the cargo could be at fault if they did not do their duty correctly. Loose cargo can cause a large truck to tip, or the items can fall out, hit passenger vehicles and block roadways.
If you were in an accident with a tractor trailer, speak to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help determine which parties may be liable so you can seek the maximum financial compensation for your injuries.