Identifying Defendants in a Truck Accident Case
The liable party in a truck accident case might not always be just the driver. There are several potential defendants in a truck accident. Knowing which one is the right one to claim damages from will help you recover an adequate settlement.
The Truck DriverWhen a truck driver is self-employed, he is liable for any damages he causes in an accident. In addition to proving that the driver was responsible for your accident, you must also be able to provide proof of his self-employment. If you can hold the truck driver liable, you may be able to seek compensation through a claim with his insurance company or through a lawsuit.
The Trucking CompanyA trucking company might be liable in several ways. First, a trucking company that employs the driver involved in your accident usually incurs the liability of its employee. This concept, known as vicarious liability, it means the company is responsible for the actions of its employees even if the company had no direct involvement in the accident.
Another way the trucking company might be liable is if the company engaged in unsafe or illegal practices. In the trucking profession, a driver must follow strict laws for hours of consecutive driving and break times. If the company allows a driver (or forces a driver) to break these limits without reprimand, it may be liable if a driver's fatigue causes an accident.
Independent Contractor DriversAn independent contractor driver is in sort of a gray area when it comes to liability. The level of supervision of the contractor by the trucking company will determine its inclusion as a defendant in your case. If the contractor was largely responsible for his conduct and reporting, the contractor is most likely the defendant.
To find out if the at-fault driver in your accident was an independent contractor, you can examine his personnel file. An attorney can help you determine if he was an employee or independent contractor.
Truck Manufacturers and MechanicsWhen a mechanical issue causes a truck accident, it can be unavoidable for the driver. If the issue was present during the design or construction of the truck before use, you may be able name the truck's (or truck part's) manufacturer as the defendant. If the malfunction occurred after the mechanic serviced the truck, the mechanic would likely be the defendant in your case.
Cargo Loaders or ShippersLoose or dangerous cargo is often the cause of truck accidents. If the cargo was loaded and secured by a shipping or transport company, that company might be liable if the cargo was improperly loaded and secured. If an employee of the trucking company loaded the cargo, the employer may be liable.