18-wheeler accidents can be devastating, leaving you with life-long injuries or permanent disability. Getting back on your feet can be costly, given the medical expenses that can quickly escalate and wipe your pocket clean. Besides, the injuries may also inhibit your ability to earn a living and lower your quality of life.
That’s why it’s crucial to determine the liable party and hold them accountable for the injuries. A skilled San Antonio personal injury lawyer can investigate the case, bring the responsible party to book, and help you fight for compensation to help you meet your medical and living expenses.
What Determines Liability After a Semi-Truck Crash?
While it may seem obvious that the truck driver or the trucking company is liable for your injuries, several factors come into play. Liability largely depends on what caused the driver to crash into you. Truck accidents are complex.
In most cases, multiple parties could be responsible for the consequences. Some potentially liable parties include the following:
- The trucking company
- The truck driver
- The person who loaded the cargo on the truck
- The company or party responsible for the repair and maintenance of the truck
- The manufacturer of the truck’s parts and components
An experienced San Antonio truck accident attorney can thoroughly investigate the case and determine the factors that point to actual liability.
Proving Fault in a Truck Crash Claim
To be able to hold a driver liable in an 18-wheeler accident lawsuit, the plaintiff must be able to show that:
- The defendant owed them a duty of care, such as exercising a reasonable degree of care while operating the truck
- The accused person breached this duty of care by acting negligently to some extent
- The plaintiff sustained injuries as a direct result of the breach of the duty of care by the accused
- The injuries suffered by the plaintiff can be compensated
The court can hold the driver liable for the injuries if the lawsuit satisfies these elements. To hold the trucking company responsible for the damages, your personal injury attorney in San Antonio should help you prove the following:
- The relationship between the primary defendant and the company alleged to be responsible for the injuries, giving rise to vicarious liability
- The connection between the driver’s negligence and the employment is sufficiently close, hence the justification to hold the trucking company liable
When Is the Truck Driver Responsible?
If a truck driver acts within the scope of their employment when a truck accident happens, they may not be financially liable for the damages unless they intentionally caused the accident. Some situations where a truck driver may be financially for the damages they cause in a truck accident include the following:
- They made deliberate, negligent choices behind the wheel. For example, the driver was speeding, careless, or under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
- The driver is an independent contractor (not an employee of a trucking company) and carries their own insurance.
- The driver was using the truck for personal reasons outside the scope of employment.
- The driver is an owner or operator and is essentially the same as the trucking company.
When Is the Trucking Company Responsible
Trucking companies are governed by state and federal laws that guide them on operation, maintenance, hiring, and training. Non-compliance with the regulations often opens them up to liability when the drivers are involved in a truck accident. Some common factors that make a trucking company liable in a truck accident are the following:
Poor Hiring Practices
Trucking companies should hire safe truck drivers with the qualifications to operate a specific truck. Poor hiring practices among trucking companies open them up for liability for damages if a driver causes an accident.
Poor hiring practices include:
- Hiring drivers with negative marks on their driving record, such as driving under the influence
- Hiring drivers without the required Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
- Not conducting a background check on a driver’s driving record
Violating Hours of Service
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers should drive for specific weekly hours and days. The Hours of Service regulations also determine the mandatory breaks before a driver can resume their driving duties.
Trucking companies that fail to enforce these rules may face fines and other penalties. The FMCSA also requires trucking companies to install electronic logbooks to ensure compliance with the HOS regulations. Unfortunately, some trucking companies circumvent the rules, forcing fatigued drivers to be on the road, leading to accidents.
Failure to Properly Maintain the Trucks
The FMSCA requires trucking companies to conduct regular inspections on the trucks and make immediate repairs while undertaking preventative maintenance. Poor maintenance practices put drivers and other road users at risk of accidents and injuries. Features that can cause fatal accidents and injuries for lack of proper maintenance include:
- Failure to fill and replace braking and steering system fluids and other components, causing the driver to lose control
- Tire rotation and replacement of worn-out tires to prevent dangerous tire blowouts
- Maintaining windows, mirrors, and lights in good working condition to enable drivers to react appropriately to those around them.
Proving that a truck company failed to ensure the good working condition of a truck that caused an accident can be complex. That’s why you should only go to court with representation from a skilled and aggressive truck accident lawyer in San Antonio. Lawyers can help you navigate the various elements of the lawsuit to get the compensation you deserve.
Legal Guidance When Proving Liability in a Truck Accident
Truck accident injuries are devastating and sometimes fatal. When you’re injured in a truck accident, you want to focus on healing and rebuilding your life. However, this is sometimes impossible because of the escalating medical and rehabilitation bills. That’s why you should hold the negligent driver or trucking company liable for the injuries and have them compensate you.
While the settlement amount you get won’t restore your health and wellness, it’ll cushion you from life’s hardships after the accident. Our law firm can help you prove liability and hold the liable party accountable for your injuries. Contact us today to fight for fair compensation.