Trucking Accidents – Causes & Liability

Truck accidents, unlike simple traffic accidents, are very complicated. A more thorough investigation within the legal framework is done to find out the causes and culprit before awarding compensation to the victim. The driver is not the sole player in the game and many people are involved in the scenario. Gathering details about how things went wrong needs working knowledge about the industry.

Hire a Good Lawyer

It is unlikely for an outsider to have industry know-how. Collecting evidences and witnesses as well as establishing victimhood in the court are anything but easy. These come under the area of specialization of a learned Portland truck accident attorney. Approach a good lawyer if you have been a truck accident victim.

The lawyer has good knowledge about the common causes of trucking accidents, relationships between the organizations and the persons involved in the scenario, the trailer and the load. All these help the professional figure out whether your compensation claim is a valid one and if yes, how to present it in the best convincing way.

Who Caused It?

In the truck industry, there exists a strong network of people and entities to keep things going. Therefore, when an accident happens, investigation often involves many players to find out who is responsible for the victim’s injuries. These people are:

  • The truck driver
  • The owner of the trailer or truck
  • The company or person who leased the vehicle from the owner
  • The manufacturer of the vehicle parts that may have caused the accident or contributed to its severity, and
  • The cargo loader or shipper (in case of improper loading)

The trucking, leasing and loading companies often try to pass the blame to others in order to avoid involving their insurer for the victim’s compensation. For example, the trailer company might argue that the accident happened due to defective brakes, thereby passing the blame to the company that manufactures vehicle parts. The brake company might try to find fault with the leasing company by claiming that they failed to do proper maintenance of the vehicle.

Will It Be Easy for Trucking Companies to Avoid Liability?

Past is not very impressive in this regard. The trucking companies often take advantage of the loopholes of the law and situation to avoid their liability for the accident.

A truck company needs to obtain the permit to run their business. However, the company often leases the vehicle or equipment required to load the goods instead of owning these. The trucking company often hires the drivers from the owner/operator instead of employing them directly.

The trucking company hands over a placard to the owner/operator. It includes the name of the company along with its permit number. The placard is fixed to the vehicle’s door and it gives an impression that the truck is owned by the company named on the placard and the driver is a direct employee of the company.

The truck company is generally sued after the truck meets an accident. In such a case, the company has alibi that

  • The trucking company did not hire the driver directly and cannot be held responsible for the driver’s action
  • The truck company leased the equipment and is not responsible for its operation, repair, inspections and maintenance from time to time.

Fortunately, under current federal law, any trucking company, which has a permit to operate the truck, is held liable for any accident involving the truck.