Truck collisions are some of the most tragic events to occur on our nation’s highways. Although truck drivers are professionally trained to operate and maneuver unwieldy and extremely heavy vehicles at high speeds with a special emphasis on safety, when collisions do happen, it is almost always the occupants of smaller vehicles who suffer.
When the accident is due to driver inattention or impairment, it is possible to pursue a negligence claim directly against them. But with commercial vehicles, there are many other entities in the supply and maintenance chain that may share responsibility for the accident. The cause could be a preventable malfunction of brakes, tires or other equipment, an imbalance of loaded cargo, or performance failure from a poorly maintained vehicle. Any of these factors may open up the possibility of third-party claims.
For Kentucky residents who have been impacted by a serious truck accident, it is crucial to know where to go to find out not only about insurance issues that may arise, but also third-party litigation strategies when filing a claim.
What third parties may share liability?
There are strict federal regulations that limit the consecutive hours that a driver can be on the road and mandate the number of rest breaks they must take and the amount of time they must be off duty. If the cause of the accident was driver fatigue, a look at driver logbooks, hotel receipts, or onboard recording devices can expose violations of hours-of-service rules that would be valuable evidence to prove negligence.
Third parties that may also be liable for damages resulting from a truck accident can include:
- The trucking or hiring company, if there was a failure to regularly maintain the truck and if there were lapses in inspections. The company may also bear responsibility for not properly training the driver, cutting corners on the installation of safety devices or for pressuring the driver to meet unrealistic deadlines.
- Equipment manufacturers if there were tire blowouts, or brake or wheel bearing failures.
- Cargo loaders if there is proof that they did not properly balance the cargo load or make it secure.
How much can the injured party recover?
Third-party claims are complex and require extensive investigation to gather the evidence that will implicate liable entities. One advantage in such litigation, however, is that if the truck driver’s insurance does not cover the extent of the damages, injury, or loss in a catastrophic accident, liable third-party vendors or motor carriers can add to the total amount the plaintiff may recover.