When a commercial truck causes an accident, it can be complicated to determine who should be held liable for any damages and injuries sustained from the collision. One might immediately jump to blame the driver, but depending on how the accident occurred, a different party may be responsible. If the crash was due to something that went wrong with the construction of the vehicle itself, the manufacturer may be responsible; or perhaps the collision happened because the cargo had not been properly loaded by whoever was in charge of loading the cargo. There are often many parties involved when it comes to the manufacturing, loading, shipping, and operation of a commercial truck; sometimes determining who is liable for your accident is more complex than looking at what company has their name plastered on the side of the truck.
Who are the possible liable parties in truck accidents?
In 2022, there were 98 crashes involving heavy trucks in Vancouver, Washington alone, including one fatality. In the entire state of Washington of that same year, there were a total of 5,096 crashes involving trucks, with 79 fatalities. More than 150 people were seriously injured from these accidents, likely left with severe injuries that cost a lot of money to treat and recover from, if full recovery is even possible.
In these situations, filing a lawsuit is important so that the injured party can afford the costs of their treatment, but also so that they can receive compensation for all their pain and suffering, physical or otherwise. While a truck driver alone may have the base insurance to pay you, they very well may not have enough to offer you the restitution you deserve. That is why ensuring that every party liable for your accident is involved with your case, as multiple parties can more readily afford to compensate you.
When it comes to sedans and family vehicles, there may only be one person liable for the accident, but when it comes to large carrier trucks delivering goods for a big box company, there are many people involved in the process. An experienced truck accident lawyer will diligently investigate the accident and ensure that all liable parties are held accountable.
This is the party most commonly held liable in a truck accident. They are responsible for the operation of the truck, including daily maintenance of the vehicle, and inspection of the cargo to ensure that it is safely stowed throughout their drive. Truck drivers can be held liable for such offenses as driving under the influence, fatigued driving, and driving distracted.
There are rules and regulations that the trucking companies must follow as well. This includes hiring and training truck drivers appropriately; ensuring that the drivers are given a safe and reasonable schedule; and, if the trucking company owns the trucks, ensuring that the trucks undergo proper maintenance. Trucking companies can be held fully or partly liable for skimping on protocol, keeping their drivers on a too-tight schedule, and improperly inspecting their vehicles.
This is where the big box store comes into play for being liable. The owner of the cargo is responsible for initially loading the cargo into the truck in a safe and proper manner. If cargo ends up spilling out of the truck, or is responsible for tipping the truck over, then they can be held liable for any accidents caused.
The manufacturer of the truck can be held liable should it be proven any of the parts of the vehicle are defective and contributed to the accident. This includes things such as faulty brakes and steering columns, tire blowouts, and defective headlights or brake lights.
Just as with any other motor vehicle, trucks must pass inspections. If it is determined that the inspector who passed a truck was wrong in doing so, like if the accident was caused by a failure of the truck that should have been caught during inspection, then the inspector can be held liable.
If the accident was caused by a giant pothole in the road that caused the truck to swerve into another vehicle, or by any other fault in the roadway, the agencies in charge of maintaining the roadways (such as the Department of Transportation) can be held liable, although this is a rare occurrence.
Why you need a Vancouver, WA truck accident lawyer
Big companies can afford a lot of big trucks, and big trucks can cause catastrophic injuries. If you have been involved in an accident with a truck, you deserve compensation from each party liable for the accident. As Washington is a comparative fault state, this means that each liable party will be responsible for a certain percentage of the accident.
In order to maximize your recovery after a truck accident, it is important to contact a truck accident attorney. At Philbrook Law Office, our experienced team of lawyers knows exactly how to lead an investigation into an accident with a truck. We know which parties to contact, what to look for, and how to move forward so that you secure proper and full restitution for your losses. To schedule an appointment, call us or use our contact page. We have offices in Vancouver, WA as well as Battle Ground. We will fight for you.
Founding Attorney Matthew Philbrook attended Clark College, Washington State University, and Gonzaga University School of Law. He is a member of the Washington State and Oregon State Bar Associations and started Philbrook Law Office in 2005. He specializes in Personal Injury, DUI and Criminal Defense cases. Learn more about Mr. Philbrook.