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How Is Fault Determined In A Trucking Accident?

Oct. 29, 2019

Who Are All The Liable Parties For An Accident Involving Trucks? Is The Driver Sued Separately?

You always sue the driver and the owner of the truck. However, it can get more involved than that. Large trucks that don’t have appropriate mirrors can often get involved in serious accidents.

Many trucks have them on the rear corners of their vehicle that allow them to see behind the bus or truck. In such cases, if the truck does not have that mirror, the dealership that sells the truck can be held responsible. Many times, when you buy a truck, you’re buying it in pieces. You’re buying the cab and chassis, and then you’re buying separately from the same dealer what goes on the back, whether it’s a tanker, whether it’s a box, or whatever.

Those bodies are made separately from the cab and chassis, so the cab and chassis might come from Ford and the body might come from a custom body maker. The body maker will ship that body to the dealer who will drop it on to the chassis. The dealer will add everything else that is necessary or ordered, sometimes custom, sometimes stock, by the purchaser.

In this situation, if the dealer failed to specify and add bus mirrors to the front of this truck allowing for the driver to have visibility in front of the vehicle, when they knew what this truck was going to be used for, they can be held responsible. An attorney can hire an automotive engineer to look at that truck, inspect the truck and offer an opinion of what would have prevented this accident, namely the bus mirror.

Based on similar cases, trucks now have an audible warning when a truck is backing up. Everyone is familiar with the beep sound. A precedent was set that trucks should have this audible warning when they back up. That’s a direct result of personal injury attorneys pushing the envelope of engineering to make things safe. In similar situations, it was personal injury attorney who pressed the carmakers to have anti-lock brakes and airbags, two of the greatest improvements that have been seen in a generation.

What If The Driver Is An Independent Contractor? Does That Affect A Claim Or A Case?

This question leads to all sorts of topics about insurance coverage. For example, if a driver is just driving the tractor portion of the tractor-trailer and he is deadheading, he is going back to pick up another trailer, then there is a different insurance in that situation, than when he’s actually pulling a trailer.

Independent owned and operated tractor-trailers have their own coverage, but if they are pulling cargo for another company, which they often are, it’s likely that that company is also responsible for the driver’s negligence. These issues come into play only with the most serious cases where attorneys are concerned about maximizing the available coverage.

In those cases, the attorney will try to include a claim against everyone who might be responsible.

Is The Owner Of The Goods Always Responsible For The Actions Of The Driver?

Not always, but many times they are, especially when they own the container.

If Someone Might Have Been Personally At Fault For The Trucking Accident, Do They Still Have A Case?

The State of New Jersey has a comparative negligence statute that basically requires the person to be no more than 50% at fault for an accident, so attorneys can recover. If the person is slightly more at fault for the accident than the other driver, then they are not entitled to recover in New Jersey.

Every state is different. However, in New Jersey, the person must be no greater than 50% responsible for the cause of an accident. Attorneys are then permitted to obtain that percentage of recovery from the defendant. For example, if they’re only 10% responsible for the accident and the truck is 90%, then they’re entitled to 90% of the value of the case.

Determining Fault In A Trucking Accident Is Important. Call the law office of David Maran Esq. for a free initial consultation at (973) 622-5303 and get the information and legal answers you’re seeking.