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Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident?

A man and woman on a phone call after their car was involved in an accident with a truck in the background.

The driver responsible for causing an accident in the state of Missouri must pay for subsequent damages. However, not all accidents are simple. Sometimes there are multiple parties at fault, and they are each held liable to a different degree.

What Happens When a Truck Driver Has an Accident?

No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. The consequences of a truck driver making a mistake can be catastrophic and result in debilitating injuries and even death. Property damages can be astronomical as these trucks are like eighty-thousand-pound missiles traveling at highway speeds and plowing a path of destruction through whatever gets in their way.

Commercial vehicles weigh over twenty times more than the average family sedan. Colliding with a truck will likely destroy the smaller vehicle and leave the passengers critically wounded or dead. The pain and suffering damages from such a tragedy can include:

  • Loss of wages
  • Accumulating medical bills
  • Therapy bills
  • Distress to family members
  • Funeral expenses

There is no cap on compensation for medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, or pain and suffering in Missouri.

Is The Truck Driver Liable For Damages?

The driver and the trucking company are both typically liable for compensation after an accident. Victims have legal rights and should contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a medical examination.

The truck accident lawyers at Goldblatt + Singer will investigate your accident to determine fault. The truck driver is at fault if they:

  • Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Text or use a handheld phone while driving
  • Overload their trailer with freight
  • Drive with unbalanced cargo or an uneven distribution of weight
  • Speed
  • Drive too closely to the car ahead of them
  • Fail to perform their pre-trip inspection
  • Disregard posted warnings for hills, curves, or intersections
  • Drive recklessly during adverse weather conditions
  • Fail to adhere to sleep requirements

Proving any of these actions will mean the driver is guilty of negligence, and they will be responsible for paying reparations to the victim or their family.

Who Else Is Liable In a Trucking Accident?

The trucking company that employs the truck driver is also customarily liable for paying damages. As is the shipper or retailer, depending on the career status of the driver. Truck drivers can be subcontractors, full-time company drivers, or owner-operators. They might work under their own authority or be leased to another company, while many are employees. The driver’s specific status and whether they own or lease the truck corresponds to the percentage of damages that the trucking company, shipper, or retailer will pay.

The road itself may have been responsible for causing the accident. An improperly maintained roadway could shift liability onto the government.

Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Most trucking companies have a team of lawyers that will fight to prove that the driver was acting against company policy. Therefore, the trucking company should not be held liable for the actions of the driver. A personal injury lawyer can still file other claims against the company, such as negligent supervision, enticing the driver to break the rules, or negligent hiring. The attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer have the experience you need, so you will not be manipulated by these large companies.

Are Truck Drivers Always Found To Be At Fault?

Accidents involving large trucks are usually the fault of the smaller passenger vehicles. According to the National Highway Safety Administration regarding crashes involving a car and truck, car drivers are responsible for eighty-one percent. Truck drivers were only found to be accountable for twenty-seven percent of crashes.

Are Truck Operators Safe Drivers?

Truck drivers are professional drivers who are held to a high safety standard. They must complete specialized training and pass rigorous testing before they receive their commercial driver’s license. They have to pass a medical examination every two years just to be able to drive. They need to record how many hours they spend driving and sleeping every day and night to avoid driver fatigue while operating their vehicle. The trucks and trailers undergo a thorough inspection every day before they start driving. All equipment must pass a detailed examination by the Department of Transportation to remain roadworthy. All these factors make truck drivers some of the safest drivers on the road.

Why Are Commercial Trucks So Dangerous?

The dangers of sharing the road with trucks do not usually come from the driver. Their large size and weight make these vehicles far more challenging to control. They take much longer to stop, so they need more space in front of them at all times. Wet or icy road conditions increase the amount of stopping distance they require. They also need more room to turn. Not all roadways were designed for large trucks, and truck drivers often have to use multiple lanes to avoid driving over curbs or other obstacles.

Commercial trucks have much larger blind spots than cars. They are unable to see the smaller cars driving right beside them. Cars become invisible when they move too closely behind or even in front of these massive vehicles. Commercial driver’s license holders must be aware of the location of all other cars on the road to avoid a collision. This makes driving a truck very difficult, but these drivers know how to stay safe. Problems arise when cars begin to travel erratically and make unpredictable lane changes, especially when they move into the driver’s blind spots.

How Can I Avoid Trucking Accidents?

The best way to avoid trucking accidents is to avoid the trucks.

  • Give them the space they need to maneuver around sharp turns.
  • Stay out of the driver’s blind spots, especially on the truck’s right side.
  • Be aware of upcoming exits that the truck may need to take. Truck drivers are typically far from home and do not know the local roadways. Be patient and give them space.
  • Avoid following too closely to prevent the occurrence of being hit by debris from the truck or the road.
  • Never cut in front of a truck, especially while stopping or slowing. Remember that they cannot stop as quickly as you.
  • Give them extra space on steep hills. Heavy trucks have a difficult time climbing steep inclines and will decelerate quickly. Navigating steep declines is very dangerous. They need to start very slowly and minimize the use of their brakes to avoid burning the brake pads, which could cause them to lose their ability to slow down. Be aware of trucks coming up behind you while going downhill, and get out of their way. Never park on a runaway truck ramp.

What Happens When I Am Partially Responsible?

A percentage of fault is given to all parties involved in the accident under Missouri’s pure comparative negligence rule. That percentage determines how much compensation you are entitled to receive. You will be awarded reduced compensatory damages according to your amount of blame for the accident.

Contact Goldblatt +Singer for a Free Consultation

Determining who is liable in a trucking accident can get complicated. Insurance companies and multiple defendants will all be trying to avoid responsibility. Contacting our team of personal injury lawyers as soon as possible will allow us to investigate the accident before any evidence disappears. We will work tirelessly to gather the following:

  • The status of the driver before the time of the accident. The driver’s logbooks, training history, drug and alcohol tests, and phone or navigation usage can all help build your case if fatigue, lack of experience, substance abuse, or distraction were at play.
  • Maintenance logs will help determine vehicle condition.
  • The precise details of the crash from police reports, dashboard cameras, witnesses, traffic cameras, and crash reconstruction will all paint a picture of what really happened and why.

The drivers and every passenger must undergo a complete medical examination as soon as possible. The adrenaline your body releases from the accident can mask injuries. According to the Reid Physicians Group, soft tissue injuries from muscle and ligament strains can take days to develop because inflammation, swelling, and stiffness do not occur immediately. Waiting too long gives insurance companies the opportunity to argue that these injuries occurred after the accident and not as a result. A complete medical examination from a trusted physician can immediately reveal many of these injuries, directly tying them to the truck accident.

If you or your family member has been involved in a trucking accident, Goldblatt + Singer can help to determine and prove who is liable. Our experienced team is dedicated and reliable. Legal representation through our firm gives you peace of mind knowing that we are working for the best possible settlement on your behalf. Your most important priority is your recovery, so let us handle the rest. Contact the truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer at (314) 231-4100 to schedule a free consultation. We will review the details of your accident and discuss how we can support you through the legal process.

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