Safe commercial transportation requires all links of the chain to use reasonable care to prevent truck accidents. If any link of this chain fails to do so, disaster can result. Identifying the at-fault parties in truck accident cases is crucial because truck companies are only required to carry as little as $750,000 insurance coverage in interstate cases.
Who is Responsible for a Truck Accident?
When a commercial motor vehicle harms or kills another party, an experienced truck accident lawyer must also examine other parties that can be held responsible for those damages. For example, he or she should obtain the bill of lading between the shipper and receiver and other relevant documents including the motor carrier agreement or broker agreement. In addition to the truck operator, the following can also play important roles in supply chain safety:
1. The shipper
2. The contract motor carrier
3. The property broker
4. The sub-motor carrier or independent contractor
5. The company driver
6. The owner-operator
7. Entities involved in the hiring or training of drivers
8. Maintenance or equipment companies
An experienced truck accident lawyer will understand the different legal obligations owed by these parties which includes the duty of a shipper or broker to select safe trucking companies to haul cargo.
Trucking Company Might be Liable
A motor carrier may also be responsible through a legal doctrine known as vicarious liability, if they delegated the shipment of the load to a sub-carrier or another driver. Vicarious liability in this situation arises from recognition that motor carriers should not escape liability for shipments of cargo they are legally responsible to haul. Motor carriers otherwise could engage in shell games where victims of negligence are left without adequate compensation or recourse.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety regulations govern key safety functions of motor carriers and are designed to help prevent crashes by addressing fatigued driving, hours of service, hiring and retention of drivers, maintenance responsibilities, training, intoxicants, equipment and many other areas of safety.