Finding the Liable Party for your Truck Accident Claim
Commercial truck accidents involving large transportation vehicles are complicated. It may not be immediately apparent who is at fault. If you were injured in a major truck accident, you should know that the negligent party will be held responsible for their actions. But who can you hold accountable for an accident with a large truck?
Since the most obvious person is the truck driver, collision victims often believe the trucker is to blame. Many people are unaware that by the time the truck driver gets behind the wheel, several people and companies have already been involved in the process. There are various opportunities for mistakes, from truck manufacturing to cargo loading. And it’s possible that one of those mistakes contributed to your accident.
If you have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to fair compensation. Speak with our Monroe personal injury lawyer now to learn how you can be compensated for your Louisiana truck accident injuries!
Who Can You Hold Responsible for an Accident with a Large Truck?
To ensure that liability is determined accurately, you and your experienced truck accident lawyer will need to work together. Here are just a handful of the parties who might be held responsible for a Louisiana truck accident.
- the truck driver
- the cargo loader
- the owner of the truck or trailer
- The parts manufacturer or truck manufacturer, or even the local government or contractor in charge of roadway construction or maintenance.
If many parties are at fault in a Louisiana truck accident, you may be able to maximize your compensation by filing multiple claims.
A truck driver is someone who you can hold responsible for an accident with a large truck if they caused an accident due to negligent conduct. Because a truck driver is normally responsible for examining the truck for maintenance and ensuring that cargo is properly loaded, if a mechanical fault or cargo shift causes a truck accident, the trucker may be at least partially to blame.
However, a truck driver’s insurance coverage may not be sufficient to pay you for your injuries fully. In this case, your Louisiana truck accident lawyer will almost certainly look for other potentially liable parties.
Trucking companies can try to avoid trucking accident liability by asking drivers to own their vehicles as independent owner-operators. However, a trucking company’s claim that the driver is the only party liable due to an independent contractor arrangement will not always hold water.
A judge will examine the following considerations when determining whether the trucking company also has liability:
- What level of control over the driver does the trucking company have?
- Can the driver engage in contracts with other trucking companies, or is he only exclusive with one?
- Is the trucking company in charge of the drivers’ working hours and routes?
- Can a load be refused by the driver?
- How is the driver paid by the trucking company?
- Is the driver responsible for insurance, such as liability insurance and workers’ compensation?
- Is the trucking company relying on the driver’s independent contractor status to protect itself from responsibility, despite the fact that the driver performs all of the tasks that an employee would?
After considering these (and other variables), the court will evaluate the relationship between the company and the driver and assign liability. In most circumstances, classifying a driver as an independent contractor does not absolve the trucking company of liability.
Cargo Shipper and Loader
When a carrier acts as a contractor to ship goods for another company, the shipment may be sealed for the duration of the trucking company’s involvement. The party who inadequately loaded or secured the goods is someone who you can hold responsible for an accident with a large truck. For example, a loader who overloaded the trailer, used the wrong straps or did not utilize adequate tie-downs could be held accountable.
Truck and Parts Manufacturer
If one of the truck’s parts breaks (like if a tire blows out, the brakes stop working, or the steering doesn’t work right), it could be because the truck wasn’t well maintained. Alternatively, if the failed part or system is faulty, you may be able to sue the manufacturer and distributor.
Local governments and their contractors could be held responsible for a crash if the road had problems that led to it, such as a flawed design, broken pavement, or a spot where rainwater had pooled. Other possible causes of an accident caused by the local government or their contractors include a poorly designed construction zone that resulted in a collision, inadequate warning signs, and damaged guardrails.
Compensation for Truck Accident Victims in Louisiana
Louisiana has a higher-than-average incidence of fatal collisions, as well as a higher average cost of insured truck accident losses compared to the rest of the United States. This means that if you are ever involved in a Louisiana truck crash, you are more likely to be involved in a serious accident with very high costs.
After a truck accident, you may face months of rehabilitation time, as well as costly medical bills, missed wages, and severe emotional trauma from the stress of the accident. You are entitled to fair compensation for your losses.
Truck Accident Compensation in Louisiana May Include the Following:
- Wages lost due to time away from work to recuperate
- Reduced earning capacity as a result of the accident
- Outstanding medical bills
- Bills for ongoing medical services and physical therapy
- The cost of your medicines, dressings, ointments, and crutches
- Household modifications when you are permanently or temporarily handicapped
- Vehicle repairs or replacement if the vehicle is totaled
- Emotional wounds, such as grief and suffering
- Punitive damages may be awarded in certain instances.
- Wrongful death compensation
Put a fair and full value on your losses, and don’t underestimate the long-term impact on your life. Pain and suffering losses are often a substantial part of high-value claims, but most individuals are unable to assess this portion without the help of a Louisiana truck accident attorney.
Federal and State Trucking Rules to be Aware of
The following is a summary of some of the most prominent laws that apply to Louisiana truck accident situations.
The DOT and the FMCSA
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has trucking rules that foster truck driving safety as well as the safety of other motorists on the road. Truckers, for example, are obliged to stop at DOT inspection points to have their cargo weighed and checked.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversees all interstate trucking by imposing strict rules and regulations on truck drivers. This covers truck weight rules, proper equipment, driving hours, driving rules, and much more.
- Limits on hours of service to prevent sleepy driving
- Rules for taking periodic rest and recharging breaks
- Special rules for dangerous driving conditions
- Short-haul regulations vs. long-haul regulations
- Truck and load weight limits
- Rules for proper loading
- Rules for equipment/maintenance
- Testing for drugs and alcohol
- Hazardous material rules
- Vehicle design, lighting, and markings
- Pre-employment and post-accident examinations
- Preservation of driving and performance records
- Licenses, restrictions, and endorsements for commercial drivers
Comparative Fault Rule in Louisiana
It may surprise you to hear about Louisiana’s comparative fault rule, which applies to all accidents. It means that fault will be assigned to every driver/party as a percentage of 100%, and you may still recover money even if you share some of the blame. Your award is reduced by your percentage of fault, and the other party may be forced to pay the remaining damages.
Fault-based Insurance in Louisiana
Louisiana has fault-based insurance laws, which are focused on identifying who was at fault or how liability should be split. This includes truck business insurance, and all trucking companies are required to carry a certain amount of insurance that will be used to settle claims. This is why trucking businesses carry large insurance plans with payouts of $100,000 or even $1 million.
Louisiana Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations limits the amount of time you have to bring a lawsuit after a truck accident in Louisiana. In general, this limit is one year from the date of the accident. If you wait too long, you may lose your legal right to seek accident compensation. If you’ve been an accident victim, discuss your case with our experienced truck accident attorney.
Contact a Monroe Personal Injury Attorney for Help Proving Liability in Your Case.
If you or a family member sustained a severe injury in a Louisiana truck wreck, you might find it challenging to navigate the legal process on your own, particularly at this trying time. E. ORUM YOUNG LAW PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY can handle your case for you, investigate the details of your accident, assess your liability, and seek the financial compensation you deserve for your losses. Call our law office now to schedule your free truck accident case review with our legal team!