The Basics of Truck Involved Accidents
Accidents Involving Trucks
Truck involved accidents are far more common than one would assume. Over the last 20 years, the number of accident involving trucks has increased by 20%. Although trucks make up only 3% of injury-involved accidents, they tend to cause more damage and injuries. Crashes involving a truck caused 4,897 deaths and 130,000 injuries in 2002.
Truck involved accidents are certainly much more complicated than a personal vehicle car-crash. For example, there are more players involved in such cases, with the driver and owner of the truck likely being different individuals, which may lead to multiple insurance companies being involved. Therefore, one needs to understand the laws and regulations that govern truck driving, the applicability of liability in trucking accidents, the relationships among the involved parties connected to the truck, etc., in order to be able to determine whether there is a valid claim.
Federal laws and regulations govern the trucking industry. Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains the bulk of these regulations. These laws and regulations set the standards and safety parameters that trucking companies, owners and drivers must meet in order to function properly and safety within the public. These laws are effective in determining who is responsible, or liable, for a trucking accident.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are two federal agencies that regulate truck driving. However, every state has its own department of transportation that deals with its own set of trucking regulations.
Truck accidents involve many more players involved than a personal vehicle car crash. In truck accidents, there are a multitude of players who may be held responsible for any injuries that come out of a truck-involved accident in which the truck was the cause of the accident. These are: the driver, the owner, the person or company that leased the truck to the owner, the manufacturer of the truck or of any of the truck’s parts (ex: tires), or perhaps even the shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo (if the accident was somehow caused by improper loading of the cargo).
Due to the number of people who may be held liable, there is also a multitude of insurance companies that battle it out between themselves over who is responsible for the accident and must therefore compensate the injured for their loss, trying to point the finger at one another.
There is the question then of whether the entities responsible for the injuries of the victims, can avoid liability. In the past, trucking companies have made multiple attempts to avoid liability.
For example: the trucking company would purchase the applicable permits necessary for operating the truck; however, it would not own the actual trucks. It would lease the vehicle or other necessary equipment from another owner. It would then hire the drivers only as independent contractors and not actual employees of the company. This would help it distancing itself from the driver and the truck. By doing this, the trucking company would give itself room to argue against liability. Should the truck be involved in an accident, the trucking company would argue that the driver was not its employee and the truck was not its property (even though it displays its placard or name). Therefore the company would claim it was not responsible nor liable for the accident.
However, federal laws and regulations that govern the trucking industry have brought these arguments to an end. Under the current governing law, trucking companies that own the applicable permits are responsible for all accidents involving one of their trucks, which display their name or placard, whether or not they own the truck or have it leased and whether or not the driver is an employee or an independent contractor.
If you or a loved one was injured in truck involved accident, contact a personal injury attorney. Schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced lawyer from the Law Offices Of Eslamboly Hakim in Los Angeles County. Call 800-LAW-TALK (529-8255) or contact us online.
Photo Credit: By Manac15 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sharona Eslamboly Hakim, Esq. is a successful personal injury attorney and the principal of the Law Offices of Eslamboly Hakim firm in Beverly Hills, California.