When Is a Trucking Company Liable for a Crash?

Truck accidents frequently result in traumatic and devastating injuries and property damage. The reason for this is because big rigs are about 20 times the size of a passenger car or automobile.

Therefore, if you suffer injuries from a truck accident, you may be wondering if the trucking company or driver is liable for your crash and how to hold them accountable. Below, we will go over five factors that typically mean the trucking company is responsible for your accident.

1.     There was an hours-of-service violation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has implemented hours of service regulations. These regulations have been put in place to ensure that truck drivers are not tired, fatigued, or drowsy when they are driving, which also keeps other drivers who they share the roads with safe and harm-free. The regulations go over how long of a break or off-time a trucker should have before they are required to drive again. Therefore, if a trucking company is not complying with these regulations, they may cause serious and deadly accidents to occur. As a result, the trucking company may be held liable for the accident or collision.

2.     The cargo was improperly loaded and not secured.

It is crucial that the cargo is properly loaded and secured before a semi-truck is driven on the roadways. If a trucking company does not make sure that this happens, there is a high likelihood that the truck will start to tilt, flip over onto its side or top, or even lose some of its cargo on the highway, interstate, or local roadways. Trucking companies are responsible for making sure that every truck’s cargo is loaded and secured properly to prevent accidents from occurring. If they fail to do this, they may be liable for the accident, injuries, and other losses.

3.     There were negligent training and hiring processes involved.

In Washington, individuals can file a lawsuit against a trucking company for negligent hiring, training, and retention. This means if a trucking company hired a truck driver who lacked the proper experience or licenses to drive an 18-wheeler, the trucking company is liable for any accident that the trucker causes. In addition, if the trucking company fails to provide adequate training and the trucker causes an accident, the trucking company is responsible for the damages that occurred from the accident.

There is a legal doctrine often used for these scenarios, which is “respondeat superior.” This type of legal doctrine holds a company or employer liable for any negligent mistakes or errors that an employee makes. If your Vancouver, WA truck accident attorney calls on the respondeat superior doctrine, both the trucking company and truck driver will be investigated to determine liability for the accident.

4.     The truck was not properly maintained or frequently inspected for issues.

Another responsibility of trucking companies is to frequently inspect and maintain their trucks. This means that they must look over every part of the truck routinely and determine if there are any issues or problems that need fixed or replaced. If there are, it is their duty to do so. Failure to do this often results in mechanical defects and failures while the truck is in transit, leading to severe and fatal accidents. If you believe that you have proof a trucking company did not inspect or maintain their trucks and that led to your accident, you may be able to hold them accountable for their negligence.

5.     The company did not follow safety regulations.

Trucking companies are required to follow various safety regulations, such as certain experience, qualifications, licenses, weight and load limits, equipment needs, and more. Therefore, if a trucking company does not follow these regulations and an accident happens because of it, there is a high chance that they will be held liable.

How can I prove that a trucking company is liable for my truck accident?

While you might know that a trucking company is 100 percent liable for your truck accident, you must do more than simply state that they are responsible. Instead, you will need to show proof to ensure that they are held liable. There are various evidence pieces that may be able to help you do this, including:

  • Photographs
  • Video or surveillance footage
  • Company or IRS records
  • Documentation
  • Truck log books, black box, and data
  • Eyewitness testimonies
  • Expert witness statements

The goal is to show that the trucking company is liable over the truck driver and that the trucking company is responsible for maintaining and ensuring that the truck is in good working condition before it leaves the company parking lot. A truck driver usually does not own the truck or maintain it. However, you will need to show that the trucking company employs the truck driver and that they were on the clock when your accident occurred. While this may seem difficult or challenging to do, your Vancouver, WA truck accident lawyer will help you build a strong and convincing case against the trucking company.

How long do I have to file a claim against the trucking company for my accident in Washington State?

According to RCW 4.16.080, individuals involved in a truck accident in the state of Washington must file a claim against the trucking company within three years from the date of the accident. While you may think that three years is a long time to file a claim and that you have plenty of time to think about it, the reality is that many people forget about this deadline and end up missing it. If you do not give yourself enough time to speak to an attorney and file a claim for your truck accident, you will not be able to receive justice or recover any compensation for your losses once the three-year mark is up. You may also lose valuable evidence over time.

If you were recently injured in a truck accident due to the trucking company’s negligence, please do not hesitate to reach out to the truck accident lawyers at Philbrook Law Office. We will look over the details and factors of your case, investigate your accident, explain which legal routes you should take, and stand up and fight for your right to the compensation you need to rebuild your life after the accident. Call our office or submit our contact form to get started today. We help clients in Battle Ground and Vancouver, WA and Oregon for your convenience.