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Determining Liability in Trucking Accidents

There were over 5,900 deaths in large truck accidents in 2022 in America. 70% of these deaths were occupants of the other vehicles in the collisions. Typically, a truck accident involving another vehicle is likely to leave the occupants of the other vehicle with severe injuries. The huge size and weight of trucks make these accidents dangerous.

Besides the dangerous aspect, the claim process, especially determining liability in trucking accidents also differs significantly from other road accidents. Most trucking accident cases involve multiple defendants, including the driver, their employer, the owner of the truck, and other potentially liable parties. Identifying the liable party and their degree of liability can be challenging.

Insurers may also take advantage of the confusion to reduce or deny you fair compensation. It is therefore crucial to understand how liability is determined in a trucking accident. You may need the help of a skilled Tucson truck accident lawyer to navigate the legal complexities.

An Overview of Truck Accidents Laws

Trucking companies and drivers in Tucson, Arizona must follow state and local regulations. Truck drivers and their employers have to adhere to federal regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the national trucking industry regulator. For instance, the law holds truck drivers to a higher standard of care with the FMCSA requiring extra training and special licensing for truck drivers.

Since driver error is the leading cause of trucking accidents, the federal regulator has put in place some regulations to combat driver error and negligence. Some of the regulations include;

  • A truck driver should take a 30-minute break after driving for eight hours continuously
  • A driver should only drive 11 hours of any 14 hours and should take a 10-hour break after reaching the 11-hour limit.
  • A driver should not operate a commercial truck for more than 60 hours in 7 days;
  • And should not drive for more than 70 hours in 8 days. A driver should take a 34-hour break after hitting the limit before starting a new work week.

The law also holds trucking companies or the driver’s employers vicariously liable for a truck driver’s acts of negligence. Accordingly, most employers have stringent employment measures for truck drivers.

Some of Arizona’s regulations that affect truck accident cases include the comparative negligence doctrine and the statute of limitations. The comparative negligence rule allows for the reduction of your compensation if you are partially to blame for the accident. The statute of limitations requires you to file a personal injury claim within two years of the accident.

Who is Liable in A Truck Accident?

Truck accidents often involve multiple liable parties. Some of the parties that are commonly responsible for trucking accidents in Tucson include;

  1. Truck Driver

Most trucking accidents are due to driver error, especially negligent driving including over-speeding, driving under the influence, careless overtaking, and a general disregard of traffic rules. Where the driver’s negligent behavior is the cause of a truck accident, he is liable for damages.

  1. The Trucking Company

In some cases, a truck driver’s error may be unintentional but due to unnecessary demands by the employer, including the demand for fast delivery. In such cases where job obligations lead to trucking accidents, the trucking company or the driver’s employer may be liable for the accident.

Some of the practices that can lead to a trucking company’s liability include, allowing or encouraging drivers to disregard sleep or driving hour’s limits, failure to complete inspections, and failure to maintain equipment. Negligent hiring practices and overloading of trailers can also lead to a driver’s employer liability.

  1. Truck Owner

The trucking company is not always the owner of the truck involved in a collision. In such cases where an independent owner has provided the truck to the trucking company, the owner is often responsible for truck maintenance and inspection. Where the cause of an accident is due to failed inspection or maintenance, the truck owner may be liable for the accident.

  1. Truck Manufacturers

A truck manufacturer or a truck parts retailer may be liable for an accident that is due to manufacturing defects, including defective parts. Manufacturing defects can cause brake failure, tire blowouts, and other malfunctions that can lead to a truck accident.

  1. The Loading Company

In some instances, an independent contractor owns or loads the cargo. Improperly loaded cargo, including unsecured or unbalanced loads can fall off a truck causing an accident. Where a truck accident is due to cargo issues, the loading company may be liable for the accident.

Personal Injury Claims in a Truck Accident

The concept of multiple defendants often complicates personal injury claims in a trucking accident. Arizona law requires you to identify the at-fault parties and prove each defendant’s negligence to recover damages. Other legal concepts, including comparative negligence and vicarious liability, can make the damage recovery process challenging.

With a personal injury case requiring thorough investigation, you need to gather evidence, including police reports, witness statements, and photos of the accident scene. You may also need to obtain driver logs and records to determine rest breaks and other requirements.

You also need to get the truck’s inspection and maintenance records. The investigations may also require obtaining the driver’s history and qualifications. As a non-expert and when recovering from a serious injury, the personal injury claim process may be overwhelming.

However, a skilled Tucson truck accident attorney can help you navigate the complexities and get the compensation you need and deserve. The lawyer will also help protect your rights, including negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf.

Some of the damages you can recover in a truck accident personal injury claim include present and future medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, property damages, and pain and suffering.

Contact a Tucson Trucking Accident Attorney

Truck accidents often leave victims with catastrophic injuries or dead. Yet, the claim process in a truck accident is often complex, especially about who is liable for damages. Additionally, the claim process involves huge amounts of money hence the likelihood of the process being adversarial.

However, you can still get the compensation you need and deserve with the help of a skilled and experienced Tucson trucking accident attorney. If you or a loved one are a victim of a Tucson trucking accident, contact Mr. Barry Bellovin of The Bellovin Law Firm. He has won many trucking accident personal injury cases and will help you get fair compensation for your damages. Contact him today for a free consultation and to learn more about his services.

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