Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

Jerry Bowman, Owner and Managing Attorney

Trucking Accidents
June 7, 2022
Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

Truck accidents can be complicated with multiple parties bearing responsibility. The following represents a non-exclusive list of potential accountable parties following a truck accident:

  • Truck Driver: When a truck driver acts negligently on the roads or breaks the law, he or she may be liable for causing an accident. Examples include truck drivers who operate for longer hours than permitted, truck drivers who take illegal drugs to stay alert, and truck drivers who drove fatigued. 
  • Trucking Company: In some circumstances, the trucking company may be held accountable for a truck accident. For example, if the evidence shows the trucking company pushed the driver to meet an unrealistic deadline or cut corners on safety and maintenance, the trucking company can be found liable. 
  • Truck Owner: In some cases, the trucking company may only lease the truck. Ultimately, the truck owner is responsible for general maintenance, repairs, and inspections. It is possible the owner of a truck can be held liable if their actions, or inactions, contributed to a truck accident.
  • Freight Owner: Tractor-trailers carry thousands of pounds of cargo all over the country. If the company that owns the cargo fails to load or tie it down properly, it can be held liable for a truck accident. 
  • Truck Manufacturer: A manufacturer may be liable if a truck accident was caused by a defective part of a design flaw. Examples include faulty brakes or blown tires. 

How do I Prove Liability in a Trucking Accident?

Truck accidents, by their very nature, often involve more complex legal investigation than the average car accident. It is important to identify evidence to help demonstrate liability. 

  1. The Police Report: Often, the police report serves as an indicator of liability. After a truck accident, police investigators respond to the scene to perform an accident reconstruction and issue a report. The police report may reveal a truck driver bears liability for the accident.
  2. Driving Record: There are times when a truck driver has an extensive accident history. Even if the history involves only minor accidents, the evidence could demonstrate the truck driver habitually fails to exercise reasonable care and adequate caution on the road. In addition, a trucking company that continues to employ a driver who regularly causes accidents may share in liability. 
  3. Policies and Procedures: Trucking companies must adhere to federal regulations, including maintenance and repairs on company-owned vehicles. If a trucking company violates its duty of care in any way, the company may share liability for an accident caused by the company’s negligent actions. For example, if a trucking company requires its drivers to exceed the federally mandated number of hours they are allowed to be on the road, and a fatigued truck driver causes an accident, the company may share in liability. 
  4. Trucker’s Records: The truck driver should have clear records about everything that goes on in his vehicle. He may have cargo records that indicate what type of cargo he was hauling and who loaded the cargo, which may prove valuable when a shifting load causes an accident. Furthermore, the truck driver’s records may show how far he has driven and when he last stopped, which could help determine whether the driver was speeding at the time of the accident. 
  5. The Black Box: Most commercial trucks are equipped with data recorders that offer vital information about what took place in the moments leading up to a truck accident, including the truck’s speed at the time of impact, whether brakes were applied, and even whether the truck was swerving. While black-box evidence cannot provide definitive information about what caused the crash, it can provide information about what may have contributed to the accident. Furthermore, it can help establish if the truck driver engaged in reckless or dangerous behavior, which could indicate other problems behind the wheel. It may also provide GPS coordinates for the truck driver’s most recent stops, which can provide more information about the speed of the truck. Furthermore, in some cases, the black box may offer dashcam recordings, which may show exactly what caused the accident.
  6. Vehicle Maintenance Records: Keeping a truck running may mean substantial maintenance, especially as the truck gets older. To adhere to safety standards, trucking companies must take care of vital maintenance on a regular basis. Furthermore, truck drivers need to inspect the vehicle before and after every trip. Truck drivers often get to know their trucks very well, and they may note problems based on a change in engine tone long before they become more serious. Vehicle maintenance records, including maintenance requests, can serve to establish whether the truck was taken care of in a timely manner–and any skipped maintenance that might have led to an accident.
  7. Witness Reports: Witnesses who saw the truck accident may have had a better perspective on exactly what led to the accident than either driver involved in the accident. In many cases, lawyers and insurance companies may want to talk to the people who observed the accident to learn more about its potential causes.
  8. Expert Reports: In some cases, it can prove very difficult to establish exactly what led to a truck accident. That covers the truck driver may heavily dispute liability, and it may turn into a case of competing witness views. Sometimes, an expert witness can provide additional insight into what may have caused the accident. An expert witness can look over the vehicles involved in the crash, the damage done to them, and any signs of mechanical failure to help establish liability for the accident.

What are the Recoverable Damages in a Truck Accident Case?

Truck accidents are typically severe and can cause extensive bodily damage, including catastrophic injuries. While every truck case is different, some of the common damages recoverable in a truck accident include:

  • Past medical expenses;
  • Future medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Lost of future earnings;
  • Pain and suffering;
  • Disability;
  • Punitive awards;
  • Wrongful death expenses. 

Contact Our Colorado Truck Accident Lawyers

Because of the nature of Colorado truck accidents, victims are at a much higher risk of fatalities. If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck accident in Colorado, you deserve financial compensation. Contact the most experienced Colorado truck accident lawyers at Bowman Law LLC. Our attorneys can help you with the financial repercussions and aftermath of a truck accident and get you the money you deserve for sustaining injuries in an accident that was not your fault. Call Bowman Law LLC today at 720.863.6904 or email us for your free consultation.