Who is Responsible for My Commercial Truck Accident?
Lafayette Truck Accident Attorney Can Help Determine Fault and Liability
Establishing liability after an 18-wheeler crash that causes an injury or wrongful death is essential to victims and their families, as it determines which parties are responsible for covering the cost of victims’ medical bills and other damages. Generally, fault depends on the circumstances of the crash. If the driver is an employee of a company, then that company can legally be liable for the tractor trailer accident. Other parties may also be at fault, including auto parts manufacturers, maintenance servicers, loading companies and more. Finding the cause of the crash and establishing liability often requires expert investigation, accident reconstruction and interpretation of technical evidence, such as a truck’s black box. Therefore, a truck accident attorney is usually crucial to the success of your injury claim.
The truck accident lawyers at Galloway Jefcoat, LLP in Louisiana have experience investigating complex crashes involving big rigs. We work with seasoned investigators and other experts to establish the cause of a crash. Then, while you concentrate on recovering, we can defend your right to compensation in an insurance claim or lawsuit. We assist victims throughout the Lafayette area, including residents of Lake Charles, Sulphur and Calcasieu Parish.
Who May be Liable for a Tractor Trailer Accident?
Liability in a serious or fatal truck accident case usually depends on the cause of the crash. Whichever party or parties caused the wreck, through action or inaction, may be the focus of an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, the liable parties may include the:
- Trucking company. Negligence on the part of the company that owns and/or operates the truck may include failure to perform standard maintenance checks or repairs, which can cause a wreck due to mechanical failure. The truck company may also be liable if poor hiring practices, lack of supervision or driver error causes a crash. The legal doctrine behind the employer’s responsibility for the employee’s action is “respondeat superior,” Latin for “let the master answer.” This doctrine dictates that negligent acts or omissions by employees during the course of employment are as much the employer’s fault as the employee’s.
- Manufacturer. If defects in the truck’s design or components cause a trucking accident, then the manufacturer may be to blame. Defective brakes and tire failure are common causes of crashes.
- Maintenance company. If errors during a truck’s maintenance or repair cause mechanical failure, then the company responsible for this work may be liable.
- Loading company. Truck accidents may occur due to unbalanced cargo, which may throw the truck off-balance. If a company other than the truck owner loaded the trailer, then that company may be legally responsible for the crash.
- Truck driver. The truck driver may also be responsible for errors and/or negligence.
How Do I Find Out Who is Liable for My Truck Accident Injuries?
After a tractor trailer accident, one or more liable parties may attempt to shift blame. If a faulty component played a role in the accident, then the company may blame the manufacturer. Then, the manufacturer might claim the part would have worked correctly if it was installed correctly. The easiest way to untangle all of this is to consult with an experienced truck accident lawyer.
An attorney can determine liability by using evidence such as:
- Driver logbook. Federal law limits how long a commercial truck driver may spend behind the wheel to prevent fatigued and drowsy driving. Drivers must therefore log their hours of service to show that they complied. However, trucking companies often push drivers to exceed these limits, either directly or by setting unreasonable deadlines. A lawyer can secure the at-fault driver’s logbook to determine whether fatigue contributed to the crash.
- Black box data. Most commercial vehicles have a “black box” data recorder that stores information about speed, brakes and internal systems. An attorney can take steps to preserve this data and ensure that the trucking company does not lose or alter it.
- Accident reconstruction. Truck accident reconstructionists can study the crash site and other data to create an accurate picture of how the crash happened. This can be crucial to determining liability, especially if the driver and/or trucking company tries to deny blame.
- Maintenance records. Missing or incomplete records may indicate that the crash occurred due to preventable mechanical failure.
- Driver records. Your attorney can locate and examine the truck driver’s record, including past crashes and citations. This can help prove a company’s poor hiring practices and/or driver error.
Hurt in a Truck Crash? Contact a Truck Accident Attorney from Our Firm
Determining liability is one of the most important, and also most difficult, aspects of a truck accident claim. Therefore, if you sustained serious injuries in a crash or lost a loved one in a fatal truck accident, then you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. A truck accident lawyer can take steps to preserve time-sensitive evidence. While you recover, your lawyer can find all liable parties and pursue compensation for your injuries and damages.
Contact our Lafayette law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.