Investigating Your Seguin 18-Wheeler Accident
The next step is using that physical evidence to identify all the responsible parties. You need to do this to ensure a complete legal recovery for injuries suffered in an accident involving a commercial vehicle. This is important that you and your attorney identify as many potential defendants as possible. The vehicle driver himself is first among the parties most often responsible for causing accidents because of the nature of most wrecks since their actions many times directly cause wrecks. Commercial vehicle drivers are sometimes merely careless. Other times they are reckless or incompetent. They may speed or roll through stop signs. Sometimes they will ignore traffic warnings, ignore traffic conditions, or make illegal turns. When their own driving errors lead to accidents and injuries, the commercial vehicle drivers themselves may be held responsible for their carelessness in a lawsuit. More on this wesite
Commercial vehicle drivers may cause accidents by driving while highly fatigued, sometimes clocking 12-15 hours a day on the road. This is against the law, but this happens given the incredibly tight schedules commercial vehicle drivers are under. Federal law and various industry regulations state that vehicle drivers are required to take periodic rest breaks and to log their time on and off. If an onerous firm policy or irresponsible schedule leads a trucker to skip their rest breaks and falsify their logs, the trucking firm may be responsible for this sort of gross carelessness. As some commercial vehicle drivers are faced with impossible deadlines or with compensation systems that value speed over proper safety precautions – this happens way too many times. But increasingly, our firm may find this out by subpoenaing – demanding by court order – copies of their logs, receiving manifests, and even now GPS tracking data or even cell phone records which may contradict the trucker or trucking firm “official story.”
This is serious business and this happens way too many times as both our lawsuits and even network news operations have discovered. Furthermore, independent studies have found that commercial vehicle drivers who skip their breaks and spend more than eight hours at a time behind the wheel double their chances of being involved in wrecks. Both the National Transportation Safety Administration and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have shown that driver fatigue is one of the number one causes of fatal and non-fatal truck accidents. Regardless of whether the trucker in your lawsuit was careless or fatigued, you may be able to name him as a defendant in your lawsuit if his actions led to your wreck.
This doesn’t stop there. As our firm discussed, very many times the vehicle driver is not the only party or business entity legally responsible for the accident. Trucking firms, contractors, employers, and insurance firms may be obligated to compensate you for your injuries. Third parties and manufacturers are also potentially responsible. See our profile here
If an employment relationship is established between the vehicle driver and a trucking or shipping firm, then that firm may be held legally responsible for the driver’s carelessness under a legal theory known as “respondeat superior.” Under this responsibility doctrine, among other things, your attorney will need to show that the firm exercised some degree of control over the driver and that the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course of the employment relationship. Establishing the responsibility of a third-party firm may become problematic when a vehicle driver is an independent contractor of a larger firm. In such a situation, the key issue becomes the amount of supervising done by the firm. The potential responsibility of trucking firms, employers, and contractors is a key factor in assessing recovery through insurance coverage, as all these entities will likely carry separate policies that will apply to the accident.
A trucking firm is considered responsible for causing an accident if the trucking firm did something negligent which ultimately led to a wreck, or even if the fault is only the commercial vehicle drivers because of that doctrine of respondeat superior. Trucking firms have larger insurance policies and more resources, so if you may show damages and direct or indirect responsibility, there is a better chance for just compensation. This is the case even if the employer didn’t endorse the employees’ conduct or even know about the employees’ conduct.
The manufacturer, loader or shipper of hazardous materials carried by truck may also be legally responsible for any injuries that were caused or made worse by the type of cargo on board. Consider the situation if a shipper fails to advise a vehicle driver or trucking firm of hazardous material contained in a load of freight, the shipper may be responsible for injuries that result if that material catches fire or is released.
Separate firms are very many times responsible for loading commercial trucks. They may be held responsible for accidents that result from improperly loaded. Likewise, they may be held responsible if the fatal truck accident or the fatality was the result of incompetently loaded or overloaded cargo. This comes into play because the cargo represents the vast bulk of the commercial truck’s weight. By law, most commercial trucks may only be loaded to 80,000 pounds, which is massive in itself. Sometimes though loaders may and do cram more than 80,000 pounds onto a trailer. Their goal is to deliver more goods without the added cost of making additional trips, putting profit above safety or legality. Overloaded trailers have a tendency to tip over and are the cause of a large number of fatal truck accidents. The firm that loaded the truck may be held responsible in your family member’s fatal truck accident. Also, if these large cargos come loose, fall out or, in the situation of flatbed, fall off during the truck’s route, this too may be the cause of the wreck.