Tractor-Trailer Accident Claims
Tractor-Trailer accident cases are very different from everyday car accident cases. The best way to illustrate just who different is by discussing all of the different potential defendants that may be liable to an injury victim.
In most car accident cases there is only one or maybe two defendants liable to the plaintiff for his or her injuries. In truck accident cases, there often times are several defendants liable for injuries sustained in the crash.
Here is a list of each of the potential defendants that could be liable after a truck accident in Georgia and the theories of liability associated with each one:
• The Truck Driver: This is the most obvious person liable in every tractor-trailer case. There are many regulations involved in operating a tractor-trailer vs. a normal car and therefore there are many ways a trucker can be liable. One regulation many drivers violate routinely is the mandatory cap on the amount of hours he or she is allowed to drive in a given day. Keep in mind the fact that many truckers are self-employed and therefore there is a chance that only the truck driver can be sued. This however is not typical.
• Employer/Trucking Company: Liability of the trucking company most often occurs when the truck driver is an employee of the company. It is called vicarious liability. There are other circumstances where a trucking company can be directly liable for the accident. This includes situations where the truck had not been maintained properly causing the accident; when the trucking company has multiple regulation violations over the years; and where it requires its truck driver to violate regulations on the day of the wreck. Another scenario where the trucking company could be found liable exists when the company is negligent in the hiring of the truck driver involved in the wreck. The trucking company may have ignored the driver’s poor past driving record or failed to even obtain such information before hiring the driver.
• Leasing Company Liability: Many times the tractor and/or trailer involved in a wreck was leased to the driver or trucking company. In these scenarios, the leasing company may be partially liability to the plaintiff.
• Liability of A Broker: It often is uncovered in truck accident litigation that the trucking company was hired by a broker, or middleman, to ship the specific goods on the day and at the time of the collision injuring a plaintiff. Depending on the specific facts of the case, the company brokering the route between the shipper and the trucking company could be liable for a portion of the injuries sustained by the plaintiff.
• Shipping Company Liability: Much like the broker liability scenario, the shipper which hired the trucking company to haul its goods at the time of the accident could be found to be liable for the accident as well. The typical scenario where liability could be found is when the load being transported was improperly packed causing it and thus the trailer to shift during transport.
Again, the fact that there are potentially many different defendants that all can be liable to you after a tractor-trailer accident is just one example of why we recommend that anyone involved in a truck accident speak to a qualified truck accident attorney. These cases are complicated and you do not want to make a mistake.