A truck accident can be a truly harrowing experience that can leave victims seriously injured and unsure of their legal rights. Considering that most passenger vehicles weigh around 4,000 lbs., while big-rig vehicles can weigh in at 80,000 lbs. or more, it's easy to understand why so many of these accidents have such a serious and negative impact on the lives of those involved.
After a truck accident, many victims want to know if they can pursue compensation for their injuries and, if so, from whom—the truck driver or the trucking company? While Delaware law allows accident victims to seek a financial award to compensate them for injuries, the issue of fault isn't always as clear cut and can be difficult to determine on your own. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the commercial truck driver, the trucking company, or even the truck's manufacturer could be liable. Read on to learn more about liability in truck accident cases.
Commercial Driver Fault
Professional truck drivers and regular motorists alike owe each other a duty of care, and are tasked with sharing the road and operating their vehicles safely. However, research from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shows that commercial driver error continues to be a leading contributing factor in large-truck crashes.
Not only are truck drivers susceptible to the same dangerous driving behaviors as other motorists, but they also have to avoid unsafe driving actions that are more industry specific, such as using dispatching and navigation devices—also known as mobile or portable data terminals—while on the road.
Driver error is a broad category that can include:
- Driving too fast for the current road conditions
- Driving while texting or talking on a cell phone
- Following too closely
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving aggressively
- Improperly loading cargo
- Driving while distracted
- Failure to check blind spots, also known as “no zones”
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving under the influence of sedating over-the-counter or prescription medications
If driver error was the cause of the accident that led to your injuries, then the truck driver may be at fault.
Trucking Company Liabilities
Other times, even though the driver was behind the wheel at the time of the accident, it's the trucking company who is held liable. Trucking companies might be held responsible for an accident and the related injuries if they hired a driver with an unsafe driving record or a history of substance abuse problems, trained the driver improperly, or failed to inspect or maintain the truck appropriately. Trucking companies may also be at fault if it can be shown that they encouraged drivers to skirt federal safety regulations, such as hours-of-service rules, which limits the amount of time drivers can spend on the road in a specific period, as well as mandates a certain amount of rest.
Sometimes the responsibility for the accident doesn't lie with the driver or trucking company, but rather the truck's manufacturer. For example, if a big-rig vehicle is manufactured with a faulty component that fails and results in an accident, the manufacturer may be held liable for damages.
Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?
If you or someone you love was seriously injured in a truck accident, you may need a financial award to help you pay for medical treatment, repair or replace your damaged vehicle, or reimburse you for the time you missed from work. The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with the Morris James Personal Injury Group can help you pursue compensation for these and other damages stemming from the crash. Reach out to us at one of our five Delaware law offices or complete our online contact form to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case, including who might be at fault for the accident.