The stakes are elevated in an auto accident involving 18-wheelers due to the number of parties that may be involved and the much greater risk of serious injuries and death compared to accidents involving passenger vehicles. When pursuing an insurance claim stemming from a trucking accident, it is helpful to know the parties that may be held liable – five of which are explained below.
- Truck Driver. Actions directly undertaken by the driver, such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, point to the driver as the liable party. The blood-alcohol-content limit is .04 for truckers, twice as strict as for operators of passenger vehicles. Truckers often pull long hours on the road, increasing the risk for driving while extremely fatigued and, thus, serious collisions.
- Cargo owner, shipper, or loader. A common cause of trucking accidents is heavy cargo that is improperly loaded, inspected, or secured. This cargo can cause accidents in a variety of ways, such as causing the truck itself to fall on its side when the truck’s contents shift or spilling onto the roadway.
- Trucking company. In nearly all trucking accidents, the company bears at least some liability. Companies are responsible for the personnel they hire and train. Also, companies must create schedules for their employees that comply with federal regulations. Not doing so can risk putting fatigued drivers on the road.
Another way trucking companies can cut corners is by not completing required inspections and maintenance of the vehicles. Even when truck drivers are designated as owner-operators of the truck, meaning they own the vehicle, truck companies are usually somewhat at fault.
- Truck manufacturer. The company that manufactured an 18-wheeler is responsible for preventing product defects that could prove deadly once the vehicle is on the road. Regular maintenance is crucial for 18-wheelers, so a tire blowout or faulty brakes may be due to inadequate upkeep. A thorough investigation of the crash may determine, though, that some part of the truck was initially defective.
- Government entities. Local, state, and federal agencies are responsible for maintaining roadways that fall under their purview. Road conditions that are not conducive to safe driving could point to government agencies or contractors as the liable party.
After you have received medical care, you need to contact an experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer who can take the necessary steps to determine the liable party in your 18-wheeler-involved accident. An independent investigation is often warranted. Attorney Jack Sturgill has experience helping victims recover damages from trucking accidents and would be honored to do the same for you. Call today at 410-296-6485 to begin your consultation.