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Holding Multiple Parties Liable in Truck Accident Cases

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May 10, 2024
Holding Multiple Parties Liable in Truck Accident Cases

Truck accidents can be some of the most deadly on Atlanta’s roads. The size and weight difference between 80,000 pounds of truck and 4,000 pounds of car often leaves passengers battered and bruised at best. The worst accidents can cause catastrophic, life-changing injuries or even death.

In 2022, there were 25 truck accidents, including tractor-trailers, in Atlanta believed to have caused serious injuries or death. In the whole State of Georgia, the figure was 617 injuries and deaths. 

If you have been the victim of a truck accident, you need justice. Yet, before you can fight for compensation, it is essential to determine who was liable.

Truck accidents can be especially tricky because several parties, including the truck driver, trucking company, and other drivers, may be potentially liable. Join us as we explore how to hold various parties liable so you can secure the compensation you need to rebuild your life after a truck accident.

One Accident, Multiple Liable Parties

After a complex truck accident, you may give yourself the best chance of securing maximum compensation by working with a truck accident attorney. Once he or she takes on your case, your attorney’s first concern will be to identify the liable parties. Determining who is liable for a collision is often complex, as truck accidents may involve the following parties and more.

Truck drivers

If a truck driver fails to obey traffic laws, his or her negligence may be the direct cause of your accident and, therefore, your injuries. 

Contributing factors may include:

  •  Fatigue
  •  Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  •  Distracted driving

Truck drivers must also comply with safety regulations before they take to the road. These include how many hours they can work at a stretch, taking mandatory rest periods, and checking the cargo is safely secured before departure. Failing to comply with any of these safety regulations could mean they are at least partially liable and can be pursued for compensation.

Trucking company

The trucking company is responsible for ensuring the truck is in good repair and that every driver it hires holds the correct commercial driver’s license

The company must also comply with federal and state hours of service regulations that limit the number of hours drivers can drive each day. For example, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that truck drivers drive no more than 11 hours after a minimum of 10 hours off duty. Drivers must also take a 30-minute driving break after driving for 8 cumulative hours.

Trucking companies must keep records to prove their drivers are complying with these (and other locally applicable) regulations. The trucking company may be partially liable if it has acted negligently in any of its duties and this contributed to the truck crash.

Truck manufacturer

If a manufacturing defect, such as a brake failure, was the cause of the accident, the manufacturer may also be a liable party. 

Defects can affect any part of the truck, but some common ones include:

  •  Tires
  •  Mirrors
  •  Steering systems
  •  Hitches that connect the truck to the trailer
  •  Headlights and tail lights

It is the responsibility of truck manufacturers to issue safety recalls for potentially faulty parts. If your attorney can prove that the defective part was the cause of your accident, he or she may be able to pursue a claim on the basis of Georgia’s strict product liability laws. 

Truck owners and maintenance services need to regularly check for recalls to keep their fleets safe. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains a database of all open safety recalls.

Maintenance services

Trucking companies may look to shift the blame to the maintenance services used to keep their truck fleet in good order. A truck accident attorney may examine the company’s records to spot oversights that contributed to your accident.

Loading companies

If the cargo in a tractor-trailer is not loaded or secured correctly, it can shift during transport. This can cause the truck to become unbalanced and the driver may lose control, leading to a catastrophic accident. If sloppy cargo loading practices were to blame, loading companies may be another potentially liable party.

Equipment manufacturers

Cargo loaders rely on straps, ratchets, buckles, and D-rings to do their job and hold cargo in place. If any product is defective, it could break and cause cargo to shift dangerously during transport. If this was a factor in your accident, the equipment manufacturer could also potentially be held accountable for this failure.

Other drivers

Many accidents happen due to errors or negligent actions by more than one driver. An attorney may use accident reconstruction expert witnesses to show who was liable for a truck accident.

When you are potentially liable

In Georgia, you can still pursue damages even if you were partially responsible for the accident. However, if your liability was 50 percent or greater, you will be barred from recovering compensation in a truck crash case.

How to Hold Multiple Parties Liable

A truck accident attorney will examine your case in detail and investigate potentially liable parties. He or she will explore whether each party can be held accountable based on negligence or vicarious liability.

Vicarious liability may apply to a trucking company, which could be held liable based on its employment relationship with the driver. Your attorney may be able to prove that the trucking company was partially liable if the accident happened while the driver was performing job-related duties.

Once your attorney has identified the liable parties, he or she will put together a demand package. This will set out evidence of liability and a settlement demand based on your economic and non-economic losses. 

Next, a period of negotiation will begin. If it is not possible to agree on an acceptable settlement, the next step will be to file a complaint and fight your case in court.

Entrust Your Truck Accident Case to Hoffspiegel Law

There is a big difference between identifying potentially liable parties in a truck accident case and holding them to account for their actions. This is where the expert counsel of Hoffspiegel Law comes in. Our truck accident attorneys have the experience and legal expertise to build a strong case that could give you the best chance of securing maximum compensation.

Truck accidents are one of the key practice areas we primarily focus on at Hoffspiegel Law. This narrow focus has allowed us to develop skills and familiarity with truck accident law, helping us build strong cases even when liability shared by multiple parties complicates matters. We assure our clients they will have direct access to their lawyer and our legal team to guide them from start to finish.

To discover what the Hoffspiegels could do for you, call us at (404) 760-8600 to schedule a free case evaluation. Alternatively, send us a message online, and we will get back to you soon.