Injuries sustained in truck accidents range from minor to catastrophic, including amputations, internal organ failure, and even death. Victims of vehicle accidents may also have to endure extensive medical care and could also suffer other personal setbacks. Those injured need to have someone held accountable to collect compensation. In certain cases, a shipping company could be held liable for the accident and injuries. This scenario does not occur as often as situations where the trucker is at fault and the trucking firm is held responsible. But it happens.
Accidents involving trucks can often be complex. Victims have the burden of uncovering what happened, identifying the responsible parties, and navigating the claims procedure to receive compensation. If you've been injured in a truck accident, it may be easier to obtain just compensation by working with a legal team that specializes in these cases. They can help you understand when you need to hold a shipping company liable for your injuries and other losses.
Shipping Company Negligence and Unsecured Loads
You've probably seen a truck that's so loaded that it looks like it might topple over and spill its cargo all over the road. When their cargo shifts and falls out onto the road, these poorly loaded vehicles may result in severe or devastating casualties. If something weighs twenty pounds but is moving at fifty-five miles per hour, it will have the impact force of a thousand pounds. Think about how much more damage would be done by something even heavier flying off a fully loaded trailer.
Companies that load, ship, and haul products often focus on moving certain types of goods. They're in charge of loading and unloading cargo from their large trucks. When a truck accident happens because the cargo was loaded negligently, that shipping company could be held liable for at least some of the losses that were sustained.
Truck Load Shifts
Cargo will inevitably move about a bit as the truck makes maneuvers, picks up speed, or slows down. Trucks carrying a lot of weight need to have their loads balanced out carefully to minimize road shifts. There are several ways that a truck's cargo can be improperly secured, including:
- Although there are regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that limit the amount of load that a truck can carry at once, the cargo may still exceed those limits. An overweight truck is far more likely to cause an accident
- Sometimes trucks transport hazardous products like toxic substances, highly explosive liquids, as well as other combustible goods. If the tanker isn't properly loaded, those liquids could start to "slosh" as it moves, which could cause the commercial truck to topple
- The load's weight could be distributed unevenly. This could make it difficult to brake or even cause it to topple over
- Cargo being transported on flatbed trailers should be tightly secured. Not doing so can result in an abrupt shift in weight that renders the restraints ineffective
When the cargo falls entirely from the truck, it might not even be implicated in the subsequent accident, inflicting damage but causing no harm to the vehicle or its driver. There is a risk of multiple accidents happening if the massive truck abruptly stops or swerves due to the falling goods.
Strict Loading Regulations Intended to Prevent Serious Truck Accidents
There are highly severe state and federal loading regulations, which, if correctly followed, can result in such disasters. Nearly all states demand that:
- Proper Cargo Distribution
- Secure fastening of the tailgate and doors
- Proper securing of cargo
- Tie-downs that are used appropriately can stop cargo from opening, releasing, or becoming loose while in transit
- Truck drivers do pre-trip compliance inspections to ensure that their vehicles are ready for the road
- Properly restrained rolling transport
When a Shipping Company is Legally Responsible for a Truck Accident
The following are some of the reasons why a shipping company can be found liable for a truck accident:
Non-compliance with the Law
Trucking firms must follow both federal and state laws. Truck drivers cannot be pressured into going against the hours of service regulations set forth by the FMCSA. This regulation spells out just how long a trucker can stay on the road before taking a break. When trucking businesses knowingly violate this regulation, they put the lives of their truckers and the general public at risk. When an accident happens because the shipping company ignored these rules, they will be held responsible.
Truckers are an essential part of the shipping industry, and it is imperative for organizations that ship goods to hire qualified individuals. These companies perform criminal record checks on every driver, provide truck driving instruction, and routinely screen drivers for drug use. Regulations mandate strict oversight of truck drivers and the implementation of disciplinary measures for misconduct.
However, some shipping and trucking companies fail to follow these statutory requirements. Certain companies place a higher priority on making money than on protecting the public, permitting truckers to travel lengthy distances until they become exhausted.
Hiring Unqualified Drivers
If trucking companies fail to run appropriate criminal record checks on potential employees before employing them, they could be held accountable for hiring unqualified truck drivers. In addition, if the company didn't provide sufficient training for the supervisors, they could be held liable for the truck accident.
Fatigued truck drivers are a common cause of accidents, making their parent company potentially accountable in such cases. It is the company's responsibility to ensure the health and safety of each worker, and it is the driver's responsibility to get sufficient rest.
Neglecting to Guarantee the Safety of Their Trucks
Truck maintenance is overseen by the federal government. Maintaining these trucks protects them from problems such as worn-out tires, defective brakes, and other problems that can result in truck accidents. These businesses are also in charge of making sure that vehicles get the repairs they require. A shipping company will be liable for the truck accident if it neglects these duties.
Many truck drivers don't conduct any upkeep on the automobiles they operate. Rather, the trucks are regularly serviced by a dedicated crew of mechanics who inspect each vehicle and replace any worn or broken components. When the trucking firm owns its fleet of vehicles, then it is the entity that is in charge of performing regular servicing on the trucks. This enables the business to identify and fix issues like worn-out braking pads or worn-out tires before they result in major accidents.
Any trucking firm that leases its trucks from another company doesn't have to perform maintenance since truck maintenance remains the duty of the truck owners. Owner companies might be held accountable for accidents involving their trucks if they fail to perform enough routine upkeep. Before beginning any kind of shipping trip, truck owners need to be sure that their vehicles are in good condition.
Improper Cargo Loading By The Shipping Company
Packing and securing goods correctly needs training, adherence to legislation, and an awareness of how the cargo impacts the trailer and truck. If an accident occurred because of a shipment that was improperly secured, moved around, or was otherwise vulnerable, the shipper could be held responsible. Overloaded trucks pose a safety risk since their trailers may fishtail or topple over from the weight of their contents. Both situations might include other automobiles and result in dangerous collisions.
Moreover, uncontrolled cargo could leak. It's not uncommon for other vehicles to crash into one another or be crushed when goods spill out of a truck and onto the road. If an accident happens while the shipment is in transit, the company could be held liable.
Unlabelled Hazardous Cargo
There may be instances where a shipper disregards the regulations, makes a mistake, or neglects to correctly mark or carry hazardous cargo. In that case, it might result in catastrophic injuries, particularly if a crash results in the release of combustible cargo or another potentially dangerous cargo.
When the shipping business fails to maintain proper records about specific types of products or permits an inexperienced worker to supervise the unloading or loading of dangerous cargo, they may be held accountable.
If a shipping company also happens to be the trucker's employer, they could be held "vicariously accountable" for the trucker's actions. This could happen in some situations where a major corporation distributes and ships its products.
Large corporations, for instance, occasionally use their fleets of truckers and trucks to deliver goods to convenience stores and supermarkets. In this instance, the shipper also serves as the driver's employer and trucking firm.
Building a Case Against a Liable Shipping Company
To successfully hold the shipping business legally liable for your accident and injuries, you will require substantial proof to establish that the shipping firm was at fault. Even though truck accidents frequently result in a large amount of evidence, you could still need an attorney's assistance to organize, retrieve, and review it.
Evidence Used In Truck Accident Cases
Common supporting evidence in cases involving truck accidents includes the following:
- An accident report that was provided by the law enforcement personnel
- Available footage of the accident
- Interviews and statements from eyewitnesses
- A review of the accident scene
- necessary medical records
- Accident reconstruction
- Images captured at the scene
- Records of the damage caused
- A record of the damages to all automobiles implicated
- Expert advice on prognosis, care going forward, and costs
Because there are several state and federal restrictions governing motor carriers, more proof should be provided when it concerns truck accidents. While some of the evidence may be in your possession, the vast majority is probably with the shipping firm, trucking firm, or another third party. When representing clients in such instances, an attorney's main priority is to secure and protect this information at all costs.
Your lawyer can write a letter of spoliation to the involved parties requesting them to preserve all relevant evidence. With the aid of this letter, they could be able to obtain more proof to back up your case or claim, such as:
- The in-truck computer system
- Dashcam footage when the truck has one
- Records of the trucker's hours of duty
- Drug and alcohol testing results after the accident
- Details regarding the cargo
- The truck and trailer's maintenance history
- The employment history of the trucker involved
Damages You Can Recover After a Truck Accident
The victims of truck accidents all face different types of damages. These are the costs and losses brought on by the accident. Before filing a claim or going to trial, they need to determine the full extent of their losses, provide supporting evidence, and fully understand the significance of their case.
Although this may not appear to be a challenging task, it typically is.
They have to consider both the money spent and the money they'll lose in the future, as well as the emotional distress caused. Given these considerations, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney who specializes in truck accidents to determine a reasonable settlement range. In many truck accident instances, the plaintiff will seek compensation for the following types of damages:
- Future healthcare needs and continuous assistance requirements
- Cost of current medical care and related expenses
- Reduced earning potential when the victim is unable to go back to their old position
- Income lost as a result of time away from work
- Damages to property, including the automobile that was involved
- Additional costs supported by receipts
- Damages from suffering and pain
It is impossible to predict what a typical settlement may look like or to contrast your situation to another and calculate an approximate amount because of the variations across cases. Your lawyer will be able to help you establish the extent of your losses and the possible range of a settlement. A determination like this might help direct discussions during negotiation.
Options For Obtaining Compensation After a Truck Accident
Most jurisdictions have laws that allow injured parties to sue the negligent driver, trucking firm, or shipping firm for financial compensation when their injuries were caused by a negligent driver.
Generally, following a collision, you can hold a responsible party liable by:
- Submitting a claim under the liability insurance policy and negotiating a reasonable settlement
- Bringing a civil lawsuit against the responsible party, going to trial, and having a jury decide on a settlement according to the evidence presented.
If you're preparing a lawsuit against the shipping company because it was responsible for an accident involving a truck that resulted in injuries, you will most likely be dealing with a large corporation that carries extensive liability insurance. Many companies have sizable liability insurance plans that can pay for your losses even when you sustained severe injuries. That can make it simpler to resolve the dispute without a trial.
But there are situations where legal action is necessary. Some companies opt to take this approach and work on both fronts at once. Most lawsuits end in a settlement, with the victim accepting an insurance payment, even if there's a lawsuit.
It is possible to sue a shipping firm in court. When representing clients in truck accident cases, an attorney will not yield, irrespective of the magnitude or status of the opposing party. They can provide convincing proof that the shipping firm is at fault and request that the jury determine an appropriate settlement based on the facts and the plaintiff's damages.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Hold the Shipping Company Responsible
Working with a truck accident lawyer relieves you of the burden of handling the legal aspects of the accident. Your attention is directed toward receiving treatment, recovering, and returning to a regular life. After being in a major truck accident and suffering injuries, the very last thing you'd like to think about is to devote every waking moment to preparing for trial and seeking compensation. A truck accident attorney can intervene, take charge of the proceedings, and oversee every aspect of it on your side.
There is no need to be concerned about corporate attorneys or sizable insurance providers attempting to undervalue your claim or coerce you into taking a settlement. Your attorney has experience in such cases and can use the proof at hand to advocate on your behalf. They could:
- Safeguard your rights
- Review the evidence
- Look into the accident
- Ask the insurer for a reasonable settlement
- Keep a record of your costs and losses
- If required, put together and submit the paperwork to initiate a lawsuit
- Engage in discussions with the shipping company's insurance adjuster
Defend Your Rights and Get Fair Compensation
Your attorney understands what is required to win in court and find the shipping business responsible for its actions. They can successfully navigate this procedure and successfully develop solid claims against huge organizations. They can help make this procedure less stressful for you, allowing you to prioritize your health and recovery. It's preferable to have an attorney handle your case and negotiate for the compensation you're seeking.
If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, a personal injury attorney can help you find those who are at fault and help you file a lawsuit against them. If the shipping company, trucker, trucking business, or anybody else was at fault, you could be entitled to financial compensation. A truck accident lawyer knows what evidence to gather to back up your claim for damages and how to negotiate for a satisfactory settlement.
Our attorneys at the Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm are available to help you so you won't have to handle these claims on your own. Our attorneys can assist you in pursuing legal action against the responsible parties. Call us today at 888-511-3139 for a free case evaluation.