Trucking Companies

Trucking Company Liability in 18-Wheeler Crashes

If you were injured in a semi-truck accident, you might be wondering who is responsible for the financial costs of the crash. Under tort law, wrongdoers are legally responsible for all damages caused by their actions. Damages are the financial costs of an accident and include things like lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. When you are injured in a truck accident, more than one person or party may be legally responsible for your damages.

If you have been injured in a truck accident, don’t wait to speak with a trained truck accident lawyer. Following a truck accident, the trucking company and its driver immediately begin formulating a legal strategy to minimize responsibility, often pointing to the injured victim to escape liability. Obtaining the evidence needed to prove liability as soon as practicable will help you recover fair compensation under the law.

Contact our truck accident attorneys for help determining who is responsible for your accident and recover the compensation you need to move forward.

FREQUENTLY Asked Questions

  • Who is responsible for maintaining commercial vehicles?

    Commercial trucking companies and their drivers are subject to the FMCSA regulations, which govern the transportation of interstate commerce. Under the FMCSA, motor carriers are required to inspect, repair, and maintain all commercial vehicles that they control.

    To assist in the proper repair and maintenance of the commercial vehicles under their control, commercial drivers must conduct routine, daily pre-trip inspections to ensure their trucks are safe to operate.

  • Who is responsible for an accident caused by poor truck maintenance and repair?

    Under the FMCSA, motor carriers must keep their trucks and all parts and accessories in safe and proper operating conditions at all times. A motor carrier that fails to keep their trucks in sound operating condition may be held liable for injuries and damages caused by an accident resulting from their failure. Additionally, other parties may be responsible if they had a duty to inspect, maintain, or repair the vehicle. For instance, if the accident-causing vehicle was recently serviced or repaired by a third-party company, that company may be responsible if they performed their duties negligently.

  • Can all truck accident attorneys handle cases involving mechanical failures?

    Not all law firms can properly handle truck accident cases involving mechanical failures and defects. When you work with a law firm that cannot properly identify and prove a mechanical failure as the cause of the crash, you may limit the total compensation available to recover. It is important to work with truck accident attorneys with experience handling product defect and vehicle maintenance claims. These claims can be more complicated and expensive than standard truck accident cases and require attorneys with the resources and experience to handle them.

When Is The Trucking Company Responsible For A Truck Crash?

When you are injured in an 18-wheeler crash, you need help paying your medical costs and other expenses caused by the crash. Insurance is the primary source of funds to cover these costs. Under Texas law, motorists are required to maintain liability insurance to ensure motorists can collect damages for their injuries. Like motorists, commercial trucking companies are required to carry liability insurance to cover the cost of damages caused in accidents involving their drivers and their trucks. The standard minimum coverage limit for commercial operators is $750,000. This is significantly greater than the standard minimum coverage required for standard passenger vehicles.

Under Texas law, a trucking company’s insurance company must pay the costs associated with an accident when the trucking company is held directly liable or vicariously liable for the crash. A trucking company is held directly liable for a crash when the actions of the company caused or contributed to the cause of the crash. This can happen when trucking companies send out untrained drivers on public roadways or provide drivers with trucks that have not been properly repaired or maintained, among others.

Alternatively, a trucking company that is not directly responsible for a truck accident may nevertheless be held vicariously liable for the crash under the legal doctrine of respondeat superior. Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer is financially liable for the wrongful conduct of its employees that occurs during the course and scope of their employment.  For an action to fall within the course and scope of employment, it must be “an activity of any kind or character that has to do with and originates in the work, business, trade, or profession of the employer and that is performed by an employee while engaged in or about the furtherance of the affairs or business of the employer.”

When you are injured in a truck accident, our trained truck accident attorneys will determine if the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course and scope of employment or if there were actions taken by the trucking company that directly caused or contributed to the cause of the crash. Our job is to hold the trucking company responsible and ensure you can access the full insurance limits available in the case.

Can A Trucking Company Be Held Vicariously Liable For The Actions Of An Independent Contractor?

Under the law of respondeat superior, an employer is generally not vicariously liable for the actions of an independent contractor. Because of this, many trucking companies do not hire direct employees. Instead, they hire owner-operators and contract with them to haul their loads. This creates a problem when the contracted driver causes a crash and does not have enough insurance to cover the cost of damages suffered by the injured motorists.

However, the federal government has put a stop to this practice through the statutory employer doctrine. Under the statutory employer doctrine, a trucking company is responsible for the actions of an independent contractor hired to work on behalf of the company, closing a trucking company’s ability to shield its businesses from liability at the expense of the motoring public.

As trained truck accident attorneys, we know how to prove that an independent contractor is a statutory employee and subject the trucking company to liability. This allows you access to the trucking company’s insurance policy and a better chance to recover all compensation you are owed under the law.

Can A Trucking Company Be Held Responsible For Injuries To Its Own Drivers?

Company drivers injured in trucking accidents often approach our firm wondering if they can recover damages from their employer. Under Texas law, worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy for employees seeking compensation for work-related injuries. This means that most work-related injuries, including truck drivers injured in an accident, cannot bring a personal injury claim against their employer to recover damages.

However, Texas law does recognize an exception to the exclusive remedy provision of worker’s compensation when the injury is caused by an intentional tort of the employer. To meet this exception, the employee must show that the employer believed that its actions were substantially certain to result in the injury suffered by the injured employee. This is a very high bar to meet.

However, injured truck drivers may have other liable defendants depending on the cause of the crash. For instance, if a third-party repair or maintenance company was responsible for maintaining the truck but failed to do so, and that failure led to a crash, the third-party company may be responsible. Likewise, if the accident was caused by a defect in the truck or a component part, the manufacturer of the truck or component part may be responsible.

Truck drivers injured in a trucking accident should consult our trained truck accident attorneys to determine if there is a right to recovery.

Contact Our Truck Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one were injured in a semi-truck accident, contact our lawyers at the Ammons Law Firm today. Our truck accident lawyers have over a century of experience handling truck accident claims. Our truck accident lawyers will help you in your time of need and show you the compassion and respect you deserve. With our help, you will secure the financial recovery you need to move forward.

We fight for clients across Texas. Let us help you win your case by calling or contacting us online.

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