Truck accidents can be devastating, leaving victims grappling with physical injuries, emotional trauma and financial distress — all of which can further impact your recovery time. Whether you’ve been rear-ended by a truck or sideswiped by a semi-trailer, coming up against a much larger vehicle when you’re in your car can have serious consequences. In the aftermath of such a harrowing event, one of the most pressing questions victims face is determining who is liable for the accident. So, who should be held legally responsible in the wake of a truck accident — the truck driver or the trucking company? This article will shed some light on how fault is determined after a truck accident, as well as the best ways for victims to secure maximum compensation.
Who can be held liable after a truck accident in Texas?
After a truck accident, several parties may be held liable, depending on the specific circumstances of the collision. These parties can include:
The truck driver can be held liable if their negligence — such as speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence or violating traffic laws — caused the accident.
The trucking company that employs the driver may be held liable under the legal doctrine of “respondeat superior” if the accident occurred while the driver was performing their job duties within the scope of their employment.
If the truck involved in the accident is owned by a different entity than the trucking company, the owner might be held liable if they negligently maintained the vehicle or if the vehicle had defects that contributed to the accident.
If a third-party maintenance company was responsible for servicing the truck and their negligence led to mechanical failures or other issues that caused the accident, they might be held liable.
Cargo loading company
Improperly loaded or secured cargo can lead to accidents. If a separate company was responsible for loading the truck, they could be held liable if their actions caused the accident.
In cases of defective truck parts or components, such as faulty brakes or tires, the manufacturer of the defective parts might be held liable.
If the accident was caused by dangerous road conditions, poor signage or inadequate road maintenance, the government entity responsible for maintaining the roadways might be held liable.
Other negligent drivers
In multi-vehicle accidents involving trucks, other drivers involved might share liability if their actions contributed to the collision.
Broker or freight forwarder
In some cases, third-party brokers or freight forwarders involved in coordinating the truck’s shipment might be held liable if their negligence contributed to the accident.
It’s essential to note that liability can be complex and may involve multiple parties. The specific liability in a truck accident will depend on the evidence gathered during the investigation and the expertise of legal professionals in handling these cases.
How do you determine liability in a truck accident in Texas?
Determining liability in a truck accident in Texas involves a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the collision. Several factors are considered to establish who may be at fault for the accident. Here are the key steps and factors involved in determining liability:
After the accident, law enforcement officers usually arrive at the scene to investigate and create an official police report. This report can be a crucial piece of evidence in determining liability as it documents the details of the accident, statements from witnesses and any citations issued.
Both parties involved in the accident, or their legal representatives, will gather evidence to support their claims. This evidence may include photographs of the accident scene, skid marks, property damage, and road conditions.
Eyewitness testimonies from individuals who saw the accident happen can provide valuable insights into how the collision occurred and who might be responsible.
Statements from the drivers involved, as well as any passengers, can also contribute to understanding what happened and who might be liable.
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) and black box data
Commercial trucks are often equipped with electronic logging devices or black boxes that record important data such as speed, braking and hours of service. This data can be analyzed to reconstruct the events leading up to the accident.
Driver qualifications and training
Investigating the truck driver’s qualifications, training records and compliance with state and federal regulations can help determine if driver error played a role in the accident.
Vehicle maintenance records
Inspecting maintenance records for the truck involved can reveal if mechanical failures or lack of proper maintenance contributed to the accident.
Trucking company policies
Reviewing the policies and procedures of the trucking company can shed light on whether any negligence or safety violations within the company played a role in the accident.
State and federal regulations
Commercial trucking is subject to numerous state and federal regulations. Violations of these regulations can be used to establish liability.
Texas follows a modified comparative negligence system, meaning if more than one party is found at fault, their liability may be apportioned based on their percentage of fault. However, if a party is found to be 51% or more responsible for the accident, they may be barred from recovering damages.
Determining liability in a truck accident is a complex process that requires expertise in accident reconstruction, understanding of applicable laws and access to critical evidence. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Texas, it’s essential to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help protect your rights and pursue fair compensation.
FAQs about liability in truck accidents
What damages can you sue for after a truck accident?
After a truck accident, victims may be eligible to sue for various damages depending on the extent of their injuries and the impact of the accident on their lives. These damages can be categorized into two main types: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are tangible and quantifiable losses that have a direct monetary value. They include things like medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, home modifications (like ramps and handrails) and other financial losses such as transportation costs to medical appointments or hiring help for household chores during recovery. Non-economic damages are subjective and not as easily quantifiable in monetary terms. They include pain and suffering, emotional distress (including psychological conditions like depression, anxiety and PTSD) and loss of consortium.
In rare cases, punitive damages may be awarded. These are not meant to compensate the victim but to punish the at-fault party for particularly reckless or malicious behavior. Punitive damages are usually reserved for cases involving gross negligence or intentional misconduct. If you’re curious about how much money you can be awarded, take a look at the average settlements for an 18-wheeler accident in Texas.
Who is liable if multiple parties caused a truck accident in Texas?
In Texas, when multiple parties contribute to a truck accident, the state follows a modified comparative negligence system to determine liability. Under this system, each party involved in the accident may be assigned a percentage of fault for the collision. However, the ability to recover damages depends on the degree of fault attributed to the individual or entity.
Here’s how it works:
Shared fault: Texas follows a “51% Bar Rule,” which means that to recover damages, the injured party must be found to be 50% or less at fault for the accident. If the injured party’s fault is determined to be 51% or more, they may be barred from recovering any compensation from other parties involved.
Proportional liability: In cases where multiple parties share fault, each party is assigned a percentage of liability based on their degree of fault. For example, if a truck driver is found 70% at fault, and another driver is found 30% at fault, their liability for damages will be apportioned accordingly.
Recovery amount: The amount of compensation the injured party can recover is reduced by their percentage of fault. For instance, if the total damages awarded are $100,000 and the injured party is found 20% at fault, their recoverable amount would be reduced to $80,000 (80% of the total damages).
Defendants’ liability: The defendants in the case will be liable to pay damages in proportion to their assigned percentage of fault. If a defendant is found 40% at fault, they are responsible for 40% of the damages awarded.
It’s crucial to note that determining liability and assigning fault in cases involving multiple parties can be complex. Insurance companies and legal teams for each party may try to shift blame to protect their clients’ interests. This is why it’s so important to hire experienced legal representation!
Are truck drivers responsible for damages?
Truck drivers can definitely be held responsible for damages in certain situations after a road accident. As we’ve discussed, liability aftetr a truck accident is determined by a whole range of factors. Situations where the truck driver may be responsible for damages include accidents caused by negligence, improperly secured cargo or even a violation of regulations (such as disregarding driving hours, rest breaks and other safety measures). Depending on the driver’s actions, they may be partially or fully responsible for the accident.
Finding the best truck accident lawyers in Dallas
If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident in Texas, you should only be focusing on one thing — your own wellbeing and recovery, both physical and emotional. It’s not your job to worry about determining fault and securing compensation — leave that to the experts. Hiring an experienced Dallas 18-wheeler accident lawyer from Reyes Browne Law Firm should be your first step on the road to healing. Our dedicated team of personal injury attorneys specializes in Texas road laws and liability, boasting more than 30 years’ experience securing the best possible settlements for victims just like you. If you’re looking for five-star service and a lawyer who will fight for you like you’re family, contact us today for more free advice.