Who is Liable in a Trucking Accident?
Tractor trailer accidents can be particularly violent and dangerous for all parties involved. Trucks are usually the largest vehicles on roads. Therefore, the owners and operators of tractor trailers have a duty to maintain the safety of their vehicles both on and off the road. When they fail to adequately meet these responsibilities, lives are at stake and the courts are left to determine who to hold accountable.
Several news outlets are reporting about a Florida truck driver who was recently involved in an accident while traveling in Greensboro, North Carolina. According to the reports, the driver was traveling on an interstate when he allegedly struck six motorcyclists who were pulled over in the emergency lane tending to some mechanical difficulties. The victims, who ranged in age from 44 to 57, were reportedly residents of Southern Maryland and Virginia, traveling to Georgia for a motorcycle rally. While four of them sustained substantial injuries, one motorcyclist died on the scene and another died two days later at an area hospital.
Sources allege that the driver fell asleep as he drove down the highway at 6:20 am. After allegedly striking the motorcyclists, he reportedly continued down the road before stopping to tend to mechanical problems with the tractor trailer. He is reportedly charged with felony hit-and-run, along with misdemeanor death by vehicle. At his arraignment, the 34-year-old claimed that brake failure disallowed him from stopping the truck.
When tractor trailer accidents occur, the courts may find numerous entities civilly liable, including:
- The owner of the truck – Often times, truck drivers work as employees, operating vehicles that are owned by a company. When this is the case, the owner is responsible for maintaining the vehicle in a safe manner. In determining liability, the court may look for previous Department of Transportation inspection violations or problematic safety records. If it is proven that the company did not properly maintain the tractor trailer, the court may order compensation for the victim; and/or
- The truck driver – The truck driver has a duty to operate the truck in a safe manner. Falling asleep at the wheel or failing to pay proper attention to the road and surroundings may lead to civil liability for the driver as well.
In order to establish liability, the plaintiff’s attorney must prove the following elements:
- The owner or driver of the tractor trailer owed a duty to keep the truck in a safe and orderly manner. This duty can extend to the driver as an employee or a contractor with the company;
- The owner or driver breached that duty;
- An actual injury occurred. The plaintiff must prove that a party was physically injured or killed in an incident involving the truck; and
- The breach of duty proximately caused the injury.
If you or your loved one was the victim of tractor trailer accident in the West Palm Beach area, our personal injury attorneys at Gary Roberts & Associate, P.A. can provide you with skilled representation. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.