Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

Who is liable in car accident
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

If you were in a truck accident that seriously injured you or killed a loved one, you probably want to know your options to hold the responsible parties liable and obtain compensation. You need to determine liability in any motor vehicle accident to obtain fair compensation, but truck accidents tend to result in more complex cases because of all of the parties that may bear liability.

Reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney to understand who you could hold liable for your truck accident injuries, receive a free evaluation of your case, and get advice on your options. 

Truck Accident Statistics

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) defines a “large truck” as any commercial or non-commercial vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 10,000 pounds or more. Truck accidents killed 5,788 people in 2021, and 72% of those who died were occupants in other vehicles.

What Parties Can I Hold Liable After a Truck Accident?

Liability for a truck accident can vary, and a lot depends on the specific circumstances of the case. Multiple parties may share responsibility, and determining liability often involves a thorough investigation of the accident.

Here are some potentially liable parties in a truck accident: 

  • Truck driver. You can hold the truck driver liable if their negligent actions or behaviors caused or contributed to the accident. This can include violations of traffic laws, distracted driving, speeding, driving under the influence, or inadequate training. It can also include a trucker not adhering to state and national trucking regulations and driving outside their approved service hours. This can lead to fatigue in truck drivers, which can cause serious accidents.
  • Trucking company. You can hold the trucking company that employs the driver liable if the accident occurred while the driver performed their job duties within the scope of their employment. Additionally, if the trucking company failed to properly hire, train, supervise, or monitor a driver who injured you, your attorney could argue they owe you compensation.
  • Truck owner. If a party other than the truck driver owned the truck involved in the accident, such as a leasing company or individual owner, they may bear some responsibility if the accident resulted from equipment defects, maintenance issues, or other factors related to the truck's condition.
  • Maintenance and repair companies. If a mechanical failure caused the accident, such as faulty brakes, defective tires, or inadequate maintenance, your attorney could hold the company responsible for their negligence in maintaining or repairing the truck.
  • Cargo loaders and shippers. In cases where improper loading or securing of cargo caused the accident, the party responsible for loading the cargo onto the truck or the shipper may share liability. If the cargo shifts or falls off the truck, leading to the accident, your attorney may work to hold these accountable.
  • Manufacturers or distributors. If a defective component caused the truck crash, such as defective brakes, steering, or tires, your attorney could hold the manufacturer or distributor of the faulty equipment liable under product liability laws.
  • Government entities. If a government entity owned the truck that caused the accident, your attorney can file a claim with the city, county, or state government department responsible. Claims against governments and municipalities typically have their own requirements and tight deadlines for filing, and they can often pose considerable challenges to successfully navigate. Therefore, you must contact an attorney immediately if a government-owned truck caused the crash.
  • Determining liability in a truck accident requires a comprehensive investigation, careful examination of evidence, and expert analysis. A truck accident lawyer will have the resources available to identify the liable parties and pursue appropriate legal action to seek compensation for your damages.

    What Damages Can I Receive After a Truck Accident?

    After a truck accident, the damages that you may recover include:

    • Medical expenses. You can seek compensation for current and future medical expenses resulting from the accident. This includes hospital bills, surgeries, doctor visits, rehabilitation, medication, assistive devices, and any other necessary medical treatments related to your injuries.
    • Lost income and lost earning capacity. If the injuries from the truck accident prevent you from working, you can seek compensation for lost income. This includes the income you would have earned during the recovery period and any potential future loss of earning capacity if your injuries result in long-term or permanent disability.
    • Property damage. If the truck accident damaged or destroyed your vehicle or other personal property, you can seek compensation for the cost of repairs or replacement.
    • Pain and suffering. You could pursue compensation for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish you experienced because of the accident and your injuries. This can include chronic physical discomfort, anxiety, depression, and loss of enjoyment of life, among others.
    • Rehabilitation and therapy. If you require ongoing rehabilitation or therapy, such as physical therapy or psychological counseling, you can seek compensation for these expenses.

    In cases where a truck accident results in a fatality, the surviving family members may seek compensation through a wrongful death claim. This can include damages for funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and other related losses.

    Additionally, courts sometimes reward punitive damages for especially reckless, malicious, or egregious behavior. Punitive damages punish the defendant and deter similar conduct. 

    The specific damages you may recover will depend on the laws in your state, the severity of your injuries, and other factors. Consult a personal injury attorney experienced in truck accidents to understand your rights and pursue the appropriate compensation for your damages. 

    How Long Do I Have to File a Truck Accident Claim?

    Each state has its own statute of limitations that limits the time injured parties have to file lawsuits in court and pursue compensation for their injuries and losses.

    Wisconsin’s statute of limitations is generally three years, and the statutes of limitations for Minnesota and North Dakota are generally six years.

    If you do not have an attorney file your lawsuit in civil court within your state’s statute of limitations, you may forfeit your options to recover compensation. Certain circumstances can extend or reduce the amount of time you have to file, such as cases involving minors or the government. Thus, you need to contact an attorney immediately for advice and assistance.

    Contact an Experienced Truck Accident Attorney Today

    Russell Nicolet - Attorney for Side-by-Side ATVs in Wisconsin & Minnesota
    Russell Nicolet, Truck Accident Lawyer

    You deserve full compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered due to a trucking accident, and you need to ensure you hold all parties liable so you can get everything you need. Industry regulations, state and federal laws, ownership issues, and other factors make establishing liability in a truck accident challenging and complicated.

    Insurance companies that cover commercial trucks often have extensive legal resources available to refute liability, and they may try to reduce the amount they have to pay or deny your claim altogether. Worse, they may blame you for the accident and any resulting injuries.

    An experienced personal injury lawyer is undaunted by insurance companies or the defendant’s legal counsel. Look for someone with the skills, knowledge, and experience to go toe-to-toe with any liable parties and fight to get the maximum compensation available. 

    Start with your truck accident claim today by contacting a lawyer for your free consultation.