Who Is Liable in a Big Rig Truck Accident?

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An attorney helps his client in a neck brace determine fault in a big rig truck accident in North Carolina.

Being involved in a collision with a commercial truck or tractor-trailer is a terrifying experience. An accident involving such a large vehicle could result in serious injuries. Large truck accidents are considered complex because determining liability is difficult, particularly when multiple parties are involved. When such an accident occurs, you must contact an attorney familiar with federal and state trucking regulations who has previously handled similar claims. Commercial truck accidents are distinct from passenger vehicle collisions. The trucking company that hired the driver could face legal consequences for the accident. The carrier company is responsible for the actions of the truck drivers and the safety of the truck involved.

Big Truck Accident Liability in North Carolina

When it comes to a big rig accident, multiple parties may be liable. Determining big truck accident liability can be complex, especially if more than one party is involved. Liable parties may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Truck Driver

Truck drivers may be liable if their actions contributed to the accident. For example, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the reasons a truck driver in North Carolina will be held liable for a truck accident. Other reasons may include distracted driving, driver fatigue, disregard for traffic laws, and more. In addition, commercial truck drivers are responsible for inspecting the large truck and ensuring proper maintenance and cargo loading. Therefore, the trucker may be held liable if the truck accident was caused by improper truck maintenance or a cargo shift.

Truck Owner

The truck driver or the trucking company may not always own a semi-truck. They might have been leased from a third party. The truck owner who provides the commercial vehicle may be held liable for the accident. Failure to inspect the truck and its systems and truck maintenance may be held accountable by the truck owner. These tasks must have been completed in accordance with state and federal regulations, or the truck owner will be held legally liable for the accident.

The Trucking Company

A trucking company, also known as a cargo shipper, is responsible for the safety of its trucks and all truck drivers. It is held accountable for the truck drivers it hires and the training it provides. The trucking company will also be held liable if, in order to save money, the company employs an overworked driver, resulting in serious accidents. When the trucking company places unsafe demands on the truck driver or disregards safety procedures, the trucking company may be held liable for semi-truck accidents.

When a large commercial truck collides with a passenger vehicle, the trucking company and its insurance company will often dispatch investigators and insurance representatives to the crash site to gather evidence for their defense. As soon as possible, contact a truck accident lawyer to conduct an investigation and determine who is at fault.

Cargo Loader

To ensure that the truck’s cargo is safely secured for safe travel, a truck must be loaded in a specific manner. One of the leading causes of truck accidents is overloading or improper cargo loading. These problems can cause cargo and equipment to fall off, resulting in malfunctions and truck accidents. If the cargo originator, loader, shipper, and transporter have violated federal regulations, they may be held liable for trucking accidents. Likewise, if a cargo shift causes a car accident, all parties involved may be held responsible for truck accidents.

Truck Manufacturer

When a faulty part causes a truck accident, the manufacturer may be held partially or entirely liable for any injuries sustained. In addition, depending on the type of defect, the vehicle’s designer or distributor may also be held liable.

Government Agencies or Contractors

A road’s condition may play a role in a car accident. If a road accident is caused by the condition and maintenance of a road, the local state or government may be held liable.

Big Rig Accident

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), big rig accidents accounted for 11% of all traffic fatalities in 2019. However, 97% of those killed were car passengers, not the truck driver. Even if you survive the big rig accident, you could face surgery, months or years of recovery, and the loss of your car or truck. Why is there such a disparity in who is hurt in these accidents? A mid-size SUV weighs about two tons on average. An empty tractor-trailer weighs around 17 tons. You can double or triple the weight if it is fully loaded. The increased weight of the big rig causes significant damage upon impact with a passenger vehicle. Therefore, occupants of passenger vehicles are much more likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries when in a big rig accident.

What Information Should a Truck Accident Investigation Contain?

  • Drivers’ and witnesses’ statements
  • Vehicle maintenance records
  • The big rig truck’s black box
  • Report on accident reconstruction
  • Interview with the cargo and loading owner
  • Records of road maintenance
  • The truck manufacturer’s recalls
  • Statements from other interested parties

How Can a Big Rig Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?

If you are injured in a truck accident, you can file a personal injury claim with our firm and be compensated by the responsible party’s insurance company. When the smoke clears, and it’s time to figure out who will pay your medical bills and fix your car, it’s time to call for assistance. If you are involved in an accident involving a commercial truck, make sure you have experienced professionals fighting for you.

Various types of data and records are critical in determining liability in a big rig accident. These include police reports, video footage, and testimonies from other commercial vehicles and vehicles involved in the big rig crash. The tractor-trailers involved in an accident are examined, and data from the black box and event data recorder are downloaded to determine if the accident was caused by truck driver error. In some cases, you may be required to hire an accident reconstruction specialist to obtain an interpretation of the accident as well as forensic analysis. The truck driver activity logs can show how long they were driving and how far they traveled. Other trucking company records, such as statements from witnesses and trucking company employees, are accepted.

A truck accident lawyer from Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ will put their army of investigators to work to figure out liability in a big rig accident. First, they will request that the contents of the truck’s black box be made public. Next, they will go over the rig’s maintenance records. Finally, the investigation will look at the loading dock where the cargo was loaded, the time the driver was on the road that day, and the trucking company’s accident records. Your attorney will know exactly what questions to ask to hold all responsible parties accountable and ensure that the injured party receives full and proper compensation. In the end, the injured party will be responsible for working with a qualified truck accident attorney to reach a fair settlement.

Big Rig Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been injured by a big truck, do not hesitate to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ by calling (800) 529-0804 or contacting us online to schedule your case evaluation today. An experienced big rig accident lawyer will represent you in negotiations with the insurance company, explain your legal rights, respond to your inquiries, and seek the best possible outcome for your case. In addition, at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ you owe us nothing unless we win.