Each year, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) releases a report on fatal large truck crashes – and according to the most recent data, there were at least 4,889 fatal crashes involving large trucks and buses in 2017. Because “big rig” trucks and other commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are substantially larger than the average passenger car, truck drivers have a high “duty of care” to their fellow drivers on the road, and must avoid risky and negligent behavior at all costs.
When a commercial truck driver fails to meet this duty of care and causes a crash, they can be held financially liable for your resulting accident injuries. Of course, truck drivers are not the only parties involved in a truck accident case: The carrier companies that employ them also have a basic responsibility to prevent deadly accidents. This means that you may be able to file a lawsuit naming the carrier company in certain specific cases, depending on the theory of liability used by your attorney.
When Is a Carrier Company Liable?
Truck drivers who breach their duty of care by drinking and driving, ignoring traffic signals, or speeding down the freeway can – and do – cause serious accident injuries. However, even when a truck driver has clearly been negligent in operating their vehicle, it may be difficult to secure appropriate compensation by suing the driver alone. There are also many other factors that can exacerbate truck driver negligence, many of which are linked back to the driver’s carrier company or employer.
A few of the most common ways carrier companies can contribute to an accident:
- Pressuring their truck drivers to meet unrealistic or rushed deadlines
- Coercing drivers to violate federal hours of service regulations, resulting in fatigue
- Failing to provide proper maintenance on their trucking fleet
- Lack of sufficient training programs provided for new or inexperienced drivers
Understanding Theories of Liability in Truck Accident Cases
Most car accident cases are litigated under the theory of negligence, but in truck accident cases, your attorney may be able to pursue damages under a different theory of liability. If the carrier company or employer was indeed negligent in some way, drawing on a different theory of liability may allow you to get the full and fair compensation you deserve for life-altering injuries.
Here are some of the most common theories of liability used in truck accident litigation:
- Negligent hiring: If you can demonstrate that a carrier company should have known not to hire a particular driver – for instance, because they have a documented history of drinking and driving – it may constitute grounds for compensation under the theory of negligent hiring.
- Negligent training: When companies do not comply with FMCSA regulations or train their drivers on how to properly operate a big rig, injuries may be almost inevitable. Under the theory of negligent training, you can hold carrier companies accountable for these oversights.
- Employer liability: Also called “respondeat superior,” employer liability is the theory that employers have a strict legal responsibility for their employees’ wrongdoings. It can be difficult to prove employer liability in truck accident cases where there are multiple companies and leases involved, but a skilled attorney may still be able to prove damages under this theory.
- Truck defects or negligent repair: Big rig trucks are complex machines, which means that even a single defective or poorly-maintained part can lead to an accident. If the carrier company was in charge of maintenance, inspection, or repair, you may be able to hold them accountable under this legal theory.
Holding Trucking Companies Accountable for Losses
When your life is changed irrevocably after a truck crash, you may be entitled to pursue compensation for your emotional and physical losses. Our truck accident attorneys at the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg are committed to helping you maximize your compensation in the event of an accident, and we will explore all possible legal avenues for recovery in your case. Whether the truck driver, the carrier company, or both parties were responsible for your injuries, we’ll perform a thorough analysis and investigation to ensure that you have a chance at getting justice.
Do you have a complex truck accident claim? Call the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg today at (949) 565-4281 to speak with one of our nationally-recognized attorneys about your case.