Last year, Virginia State Police responded to four fatal accidents between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. One of those fatalities resulted when a 2013 Volkswagen was struck from behind by a 2014 Kenworth tractor-trailer critically injuring the front seat passenger who later died from her injuries.
Accidents like this happen all too often, and for the injured party of a commercial truck accident, it may not be easy to determine who is liable for damages. Unlike a typical car accident where it may be obvious which driver was at fault, an accident involving a commercial vehicle may end up with multiple liable parties.
In the case of the 2014 Kenworth tractor-trailer collision, the driver was charged with reckless driving (no alcohol was involved). Regardless of the truck drivers action when a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident there are many factors that can decide liability, including
working conditions, the truck manufacturer, vehicle maintenance, and even the cargo load.
Fatigue is one of the most frequent contributing causes of truck driver accidents. In this instance, you might assume that the truck driver would be liable for damages. However, the parent company or driver’s manager may also be liable if the driver was scheduled to work an unreasonable amount of time, thereby, ignoring the well-being of the driver as well as other motorists on the road.
Any company that operates commercial vehicles must perform regular and reasonable maintenance on their fleet. By failing to maintain, repair, or replace truck equipment and parts, a company can be held liable for any accident involving a truck with faulty or defective equipment.
Lastly, many of us have probably seen a truck tipped over in the middle of a road blocking traffic or at the scene of an accident. When trucks tip over, it is typically due to exceeding the trucks cargo weight limit or an unbalanced shipment load. In this situation, when a truck driver is involved in an accident, the company, the maintenance crew, or packers may be liable for damages.
While commercial vehicle drivers are required to follow certain regulations including hours of service and safety procedures, accidents will happen. Therefore, as a consumer it is important to know your legal rights if you are injured by a truck driver and understand that it is not always the driver who is responsible for paying your damages.