Multiple Defendant Issues In A Commercial Truck Accident

Accidents that involve big rigs and heavy commercial trucks are common and can be complicated. According to recent statistics, there are upwards of 300,000 accidents involving heavy trucks every year in the United States, causing as many as 3,900 deaths and over 100,000 injuries.1 These accidents may involve multiple responsible parties, depending on truck ownership, insurance coverage, and who hired the truck at the time of the accident. It is important to work with experienced truck accident attorneys when dealing with any type of commercial truck accident, to properly determine the responsible parties given the circumstances of an individual accident.

Multiple Defendants and Semi Trucks

Truck accident lawyers state that they must often determine which of multiple defendants is responsible for damages caused by a traffic accident with an 18-wheeler. There may be multiple defendants in commercial motor vehicle accidents with parties bearing different levels of responsibility. An 18-wheeler could be owned by the operator, leased, or owned by a company that hires its own drivers. Knowing the relationship between the driver and the owner of the vehicle is important when it comes to establishing liability of the parties.

Different Driver-Company Relationships And Different Responsibilities

Law firms that handle truck accidents must consider the facts of a given accident to identify the responsible parties in an accident case with multiple defendants. Regardless of who owns the 18-wheeler or heavy truck, both state and federal laws require minimum levels of insurance coverage for accidents. Determining who owns the commercial vehicle and which insurance policies are triggered due to an accident is vital to obtaining a fair resolution of a case. Recent crash statistics indicate that private carriers, for-hire (owner-operator) carriers, and those that alternate between private and for-hire are involved in highway accidents of this type making it sometimes challenging to identify the responsible parties.2

Attorneys who handle truck accidents also suggest there are situations where the truck manufacturer or other parties are responsible for accidents and injuries. This happens when manufacturers allow unsafe trucks out on the roadway or when vehicle components fail. Given the size and weight of commercial vehicles, proper maintenance performed by qualified technicians is necessary to ensure safety on our roadways. Federal Motor Carrier regulations require a commercial vehicle to be in good working order and a lack of proper maintenance can be disastrous. Identifying the parties responsible for maintaining an 18-wheeler which was involved in an accident is necessary to determining which parties are responsible for the accident.

Why Is It Important to Determine Multiple Defendants?

Identifying all potential defendants is important in handling 18-wheeler cases as there is often a disagreement as to liability. In order for defendants to be properly examined and the responsible party held accountable for damages, these cases usually demand the attention of experienced lawyers who specialize in handling truck accidents.

Because of the complexity of accident cases involving commercial trucks, it is very important that a person involved in such an incident consult a dedicated and experienced truck accident law firm. They can help an injured person determine the party responsible for the payment of damages and then work with them to reach a fair settlement when multiple defendants are involved.

1Traffic Safety Facts, 2012 Date: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

2U.S. DOT, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – Post Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, page 38

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