In order to ensure a complete legal recovery for injuries suffered in an accident involving an eighteen wheeler, it is important that you and your attorney identify as many potential defendants as possible. In many trucking cases, the truck driver may not be the only person or business entity legally responsible for the accident. Keep in mind that the owner or lessor or lessee of the truck, the trucking company, contractors, employers, and multiple insurance companies may be obligated to compensate you or your family for your loss. In some cases products, materials or vehicles may have malfuctioned before or during the loss giving rise to a product liability claim against a manufacture.
When a commercial truck accident occurs, if an employment relationship is established between the driver and a trucking or shipping company, then that company can be held legally liable for the driver's negligence under a legal theory known as "respondeat superior." Under this recognized liability doctrine, you must show that the company exercised some degree of control over the driver and that the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course and scope of the employment relationship. Establishing the liability of a third-party company can, in some cases, become problematic when a truck driver is an "independent contractor" of or for a larger company. In such a situation, the key issue then becomes the level or amount of supervising by the company. The potential liability of trucking companies, employers, and/or contractors is a key factor in assessing avenues of recovery through insurance coverages, as all these entities will likely carry separate policies that can apply to the accident.
In some rare cases, the manufacturer or shipper of hazardous materials that are being hauled within a truck may also be legally responsible for any injuries that were caused or made worse by the type of cargo on board. For example, if a shipper fails to disclose the presences of hazardous material contained in a load of freight, the shipper could be held liable for injuries that result if that material catches fire or is released.
In the event that you or a loved one is involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler truck, you may be entitled to recover compensation for your injuries by bringing a legal claim against the responsible parties. If you need advice or counsel on a trucking accident or just have questions as to your options call us day or night, we are available 24 hours a day seven days a week. For your convenience, we offer free initial consultations, without obligation. Call 1.800.862.1260.