Understanding Third-Party Liability in Trucking Accidents

Road accidents involving commercial trucks are common, and extremely dangerous due to the vehicles’ size and weight. Serious injuries and fatalities are more likely, especially when the other motorists involved are inside standard passenger vehicles. Claims arising from truck accidents also differ from passenger vehicle cases, because one or more third parties are oftentimes liable for injuries and financial losses caused by the collision.

Having a competent driver is critical for safe operation of a commercial vehicle. However, third parties beside the driver also play a role in protecting others on the road. Trucks need frequent and expert maintenance to be both safe and reliable. Overloaded rigs or improper loading procedures make cargo vehicles unstable and unsafe. Also, a few trucks are inherently dangerous due to poor engineering or improper manufacturing processes. Negligence in various aspects of the trucking industry could be a  contributing factor in commercial vehicle accidents.

The law imposes a legal duty of care on those involved getting a truck on the road. In the event of an accident, cargo loaders, logisticians and mechanics might bear some of the legal responsibility. Design firms and manufacturers could also be required to pay damages if their failures contributed to the crash. Even administrators who hire poor drivers or keep them on staff can be liable for causing an accident. Of course, a truck driver may be personally liable for any losses if they cause an accident. A qualified truck accident lawyer can help you identify all of the potential defendants.

Multiple parties may be liable for damages resulting from an accident. Collisions are oftentimes not attributable to a single cause. For example, an accident can be caused primarily by driver error with improper maintenance being a significant contributing factor. In these cases, New Jersey law allows liability to apportioned among defendants. Trucking companies might be held legally responsible for the negligence or mistakes of their employees under the legal principle known as respondeat superior. Therefore, a business cannot shift blame to an employee who likely cannot pay a substantial injury/property damage claim.

Truck accidents are complicated. It can be difficult to evaluate all of the relevant elements of a crash. In many cases it takes one or more experts to recreate the accident and identify the contributing factors. In addition, it could be complicated to pinpoint who is liable among various vehicle owners, employees and service providers involved with the trucking industry. Each party likely has their own insurance coverage, which might require negotiations with several insurers.

Located in Ridgewood, Seigel Law is one of the top personal injury law firms in the North Jersey and the New York metropolitan area. If you or a family member have been injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, feel free to call 201-444-4000 or contact us online for a consultation.

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