It is not easy to pick out a defendant from the crowd when you are injured in an accident with a semi-truck, dump truck, tractor trailer, garbage truck, big rig, or any other commercial vehicle. Trucking accident lawsuits can involve numerous parties.
You may think only the truck driver is to be blamed, but there can be other factors at play as well. It is recommended that you consult with an experienced truck accident attorney to identify all possible defendants. Here are a few potential defendants in a Virginia commercial truck accident injury claim.
In general, the most obvious choice of liability falls on the driver of the truck. Injury claims, in most cases, name the truck driver as the primary at-fault party. However, there are instances when the truck driver could be left off the defendants list. Typically, this happens when the driver is not associated with the wrongdoings. However, there may be a long chain of other parties that you can sue in such incidents.
These are a few instances when you can name the driver in the lawsuit:
- The driver was driving under the influence
- The driver was distracted or drowsy at the time
- The driver contributed or was aware of the negligence that caused the accident
Broker of the Trucking or Freight Company
A shipper may use a broker sometimes for hiring trucking companies that transports their cargo. The broker has the responsibility for ensuring that all recommended trucking companies are safe and equipped with qualified drivers for carrying the cargo. Brokers that don’t make use of extensive screening process can be held liable in case an accident occurs.
For instance, the broker may hire a company with drivers that have their commercial licenses suspended. The broker will be held liable if the driver causes an accident because they did not screen the trucking company adequately.
Trucking Company / Owner of the Truck
In most instances, the driver of the truck is not its owner. The owner of a commercial truck has the responsibility to ensure that the truck receives proper maintenance, remains in good repair, and has functioning safety components before allowing the truck on the road. You should know that the name of the company on the trailer doesn’t necessarily own it. Instead, you should look at the license and title information of the truck.
Trucks are usually run by a separate company that leases or rents time from the actual truck owners. It can be complicated to find the actual owners of a semi-truck. The process typically requires an investigator that follows the paper trail for determining the company that owns the truck and the one that leased it for hauling cargo.
Truck Driver’s Employer
It may be possible that the owner of the truck is the driver or the truck is leased. In case the truck is leased, the employer of the truck driver can be held liable for any injuries caused if they did not properly train or screen their operators. For instance, you can hold the employer liable if they allowed a driver with a suspended license to drive. Many companies make use of independent contractors to avoid vicarious liability in such situations. This can make the process of identifying the driver’s employer complicated.
Repair, Service, and Maintenance Companies
In most cases, third party contractors are hired for handling repairs, service and maintenance jobs. Such companies can be held liable if the accident was the result of a mechanical malfunction because of poor maintenance or shoddy repair work.
For instance, if a trucking accident occurred because the brakes malfunctioned, which any responsible repair company would have prevented during routine maintenance, the contractor can be held liable. The fact the contractor did not unearth the mechanical problem indicates that they did not inspect the vehicle adequately.
Manufacturer of the Truck or its Components
The truck or parts manufacturer can be held liable if a defective component caused the accident. You can also name the wholesaler or retailer selling the parts as a defendant as well.
Determine Liability with the Help of an Attorney
Trucks and tractor trailers are heavier, bigger and difficult to drive. They are more dangerous. The trucking industry is governed by strict rules in the form of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). An experienced attorney will know these regulations and be in a better position to determine all infringements made by the defendants. Proven law firms have a panel of investigators and experts that can help in building a stronger claim.
Talk to a Capable Truck Accident Attorney Today
The list of possible defendants in a trucking accident is quite extensive. It can be complicated to determine liability in such accidents. This is why you should have a trucking accident attorney on your side. The qualified legal team at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp can help. To schedule your free consultation with us, call us at (833) 997-1774 or use our online contact form.