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Who Is Liable If You're Hit by a Semi-Truck?

  • Sep 29, 2022
  • The Harr Law Firm

Overturned semi-truck near road signBeing involved in an accident with a semi-truck is an extremely serious situation to find yourself in. Even slow-speed collisions can cause major harm to you, your vehicle, and your passengers. Oftentimes, semi-truck collisions result in high-cost property damage and serious injuries that come with high medical bills. To cover these costs, many victims look to take legal action against the liable party. But who, exactly, is liable in a collision with a semi-truck? Keep reading to learn more about potential liable parties in these cases.

Driver Liability

More often than not, the truck driver is the liable party when your vehicle is struck by a semi-truck. While semi-truck drivers undergo additional training and testing, and must follow strict regulations for vehicle operation, driver negligence is still the most common cause of a semi collisions. Common situations in which a semi-truck driver would be held liable for your injuries and property damages include the following:

  • Distracted driving – If a trucker was distracted while operating their vehicle (e.g., checking their phone, looking at something out their window, eating, etc.), this can often lead to an accident, for which they would be held liable.
  • Drunk driving – Any time someone drinks and drives, it is a serious offense, and they will always be considered the liable party in any resulting accidents. Semi-truck drivers have an even lower legal blood-alcohol limit than other drivers (.04% as opposed to .08%), so having any alcohol in their system will likely result in a drunk driving conviction.
  • Aggressive driving – Aggressive driving behavior is always dangerous, but it’s even more dangerous when you’re operating a vehicle that can weigh as much as 20 times more than a passenger vehicle. If a truck driver is driving aggressively (e.g., forcing their weigh into traffic and cutting off other cars), the driver will be considered the liable party in a collision.
  • Drowsy driving – This is a common concern for truckers, who can drive 18 hours per day in some cases. Driving while drowsy can cause truckers to fall asleep at the wheel. Dozing off for even a few seconds can have disastrous consequences.

If any of these situations applies to your accident, then the driver is the liable party that you would pursue a claim against.

Company Liability

Sometimes, a collision occurs, not as the result of driver negligence, but due to mechanical failures and other operational issues. This can include situations like improperly loaded vehicles that overturn or a brake failure caused by improper maintenance. Trucking companies have a duty to ensure that the trucks their drivers operate are in safe condition for the roads. If the company fails to do this, then they are liable for any resulting accidents.

Additionally, if your accident involved a trucker who didn’t have insurance and was employed by a trucking company full-time at the time of the accident, you can pursue litigation against the trucking company and their insurance carrier in order to receive compensation.

Manufacturer Liability

Not all mechanical failures are the result of poor maintenance. In some cases, a truck may malfunction on the road and cause an accident due to a manufacturing issues, like faulty parts. If the manufacturer knowingly uses dangerous parts or fails to recall a certain type of truck with a known issue, they can be held liable for accidents that occur as a result of this problem.

Pursuing litigation against a truck manufacturer can be quite complex, as you would need to work your way up the line of liability, so to speak. You would begin by working with your insurance company to receive what payouts you can from then. Then, you’d need to work with the driver’s insurance to ensure they were operating the vehicle properly. Next would come the company, to ensure that the truck had been maintained properly. Finally, you would move on to the manufacturer to determine who knew about the faulty parts.

Due to the complexity of pursuing litigation in a semi-truck collision, we strongly encourage you to work with a personal injury attorney on your case. We can help you to determine who the liable party is, communicate with companies and insurance carriers on your behalf, and help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you were in a collision with a semi-truck, contact The Harr Law Firm today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.