Lever & Ecker February 27, 2020 General
“Who can I sue?” If your life has been turned upside down by a commercial truck accident, this is a fair question for you to ask. Your financial and non-financial losses could be substantial, and, depending on your injuries, there is a very good chance that your life will never be the same. If you lost a loved one, this is a certainty, and you and your family deserve to collect every penny to which you are legally entitled.
Determining what parties are liable after a truck accident requires a thorough investigation. The circumstances involved in the accident might suggest a particular cause, but, in order to recover just compensation, you need to be able to prove who (or what company) is to blame. In many cases, multiple companies will share liability, and truck accident victims will have the right to pursue claims against each of these companies in order to fully recover their losses.
While every case is different, the following are the 10 types of parties that are most likely to be liable for a serious or fatal truck accident in New York:
As you might expect, trucking companies are often liable for accidents involving their trucks. Trucking companies can be held liable for “direct” negligence, such as hiring inexperienced drivers and forcing their drivers to violate federal and state hour restrictions, and they can be held “vicariously” liable for their drivers’ negligence as well.
Truck drivers can also be held liable when they cause (or contribute to causing) a serious or fatal accident. While some truck drivers are employees of large trucking companies, others operate as independent contractors (or “owner-operators”). In these cases, their insurance policies will cover accident victims’ injuries and losses.
Truck defects can be to blame for accidents when they cause drivers to suddenly and unexpectedly lose control. They can also lead to accidents by causing cargo to shift or spill onto the roadway. Regardless of the specific issue involved, if a truck defect is to blame, the truck manufacturer (or a component manufacturer) can be held legally responsible.
Shipping company errors can cause and contribute to serious and fatal truck accidents as well. This includes errors such as exceeding a truck’s maximum weight rating, failing to properly secure cargo, failing to properly balance cargo, and failing to pressurize liquid cargo.
If the cargo owner loaded the truck (as opposed to a trucking company or shipping company), then the owner will be liable for any loading errors. Cargo owners can also be held liable when cargo leaks, explodes, or otherwise causes an accident.
In truck accident cases involving multiple vehicles, other drivers will often be partially responsible. For example, a driver who was following too closely or who was distracted by a phone call or text message might be to blame for causing a chain reaction collision.
Just as other drivers can be to blame for accidents involving 18-wheelers, the vehicle manufacturers and the companies that make defective parts can be liable as well. If any defect in any vehicle played a role in causing the crash, then the manufacturer (and potentially other commercial parties) could be liable.
Maintenance and repair issues are common factors in commercial truck accidents. While trucking companies and other vehicle owners can be held liable for failing to perform necessary maintenance or repairs, dealerships, maintenance shops, and repair shops may be held liable if their employees perform negligent work that leads to a collision.
If a dangerous road design, pothole, low shoulder, or any other issue with the road was a factor in the crash, then the government agency that is responsible for the road may be responsible for your losses as well.
Likewise, if the government hired a private contractor to design, build, or maintain the road, then the contractor could be partially or fully liable if an issue with the road played a role in the crash.
In order to determine who is liable for your losses, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we handle serious and fatal truck accident cases throughout New York.
To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at a time and place that are convenient for you, call 914-288-9191 or contact us online and tell us how we can help.