Liability determines who pays the costs people incur after a car crash. Police officers responding to the collision and insurance companies handling claims will analyze the scene of the crash and the testimony of the drivers involved to determine who is at fault.
Sometimes fault is a bit more complicated than other times. In commercial crashes, for example, what occurs isn’t necessarily the fault of the driver. They may not have any control over how someone loaded the trailer of their truck or the maintenance of the vehicle.
After a crash caused by a big commercial truck, how do you determine who is liable?
Many times, the driver is the one responsible
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) tracks commercial truck crashes and their causes. In crashes caused by big trucks, the FMCSA estimates that 87% of those collisions are the fault of the driver.
They made a bad decision, failed to react quickly enough or did not notice another vehicle nearby. In a small number of driver-caused truck crashes, the commercial driver may experience a medical event like a heart attack that renders them unable to safely drive. When a maneuver or mistake led to your collision, the driver of the truck may be the one with ultimate responsibility for the outcome.
Sometimes, the trucking company is at fault
According to the data provided by the FMCSA, roughly 10% of the commercial trucking crashes they evaluated were the result of vehicle issues. Some of these issues will undoubtedly be due to inadequate maintenance or repair to the vehicles.
If the brakes fail due to cost-cutting by the company managing the fleet, then the commercial transportation business that hired the driver may be the party with ultimate liability for the crash. The same is true in scenarios where you can clearly show that bad policies by the trucking company — such as hiring those with questionable records or requiring that drivers answer their phones while on the road — caused the crash.
Sometimes a third party is responsible
In rare situations, it may be the decisions or actions of a different company that lead to a commercial crash.
For example, if a client who needed transportation services improperly loaded the trailer of the semi, the crash that resulted when the trailer flipped over would be the responsibility of that company, not necessarily the driver or their employer.
Looking closely at the circumstances that led to a commercial truck crash can give you a better idea about who has responsibility for the losses you have suffered.