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Commercial truck accident cases differ from car accident cases in significant ways. Because of the heavy weight and large size of commercial trucks, the damage done to both the vehicles and the people involved in truck accidents is typically more catastrophic than in accidents involving passenger vehicles. Also, whereas those injured in car accidents sue the driver that caused the accident, truck accident victims may be able to pursue compensation from several liable parties.
Due to the extensive amount of damage that can be caused in trucking accidents, truck drivers may not be able to afford to fully compensate plaintiffs for their injuries. However, there are other parties that may be potentially held liable under different legal theories. The most common party to be held liable other than the truck driver is the motor carrier, either as an employer or under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
Respondeat Superior is a legal theory under which employers can be held responsible for the negligence of their employees. It must be proven that the truck driver was an employee of the carrier and not merely an independent contractor. If the carrier exercised sufficient control over the negligent trucker, then the carrier may be held liable for the trucker’s negligence.
Employers also have a duty not to hire or retain individuals who pose a risk to the public. If the carrier failed to conduct a proper background check or investigation on the truck driver who caused the accident, they may be liable for negligent hiring. If, after hiring the truck driver, the carrier learned that the individual should not be driving trucks, then the carrier may be liable for negligent retention.
Motor carriers are required to comply with federal regulations set forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA promotes compliance, safety, and accountability within the trucking industry and all non-exempt commercial motor vehicles that cross state lines are subject to FMCSA regulations. Anyone involved in the operation of commercial vehicles must comply, including drivers, managers, trainers, and dispatchers. If a motor carrier violates a FMCSA regulation and their violation leads to an injury, such as in a truck accident, the carrier may be liable for those injuries under the FMCSR.
For example, if an accident occurred because of a mechanical failure and a carrier is unable to prove their compliance with federal regulations by presenting maintenance, inspection, and repair records, the carrier may be held liable. A carrier may also be held liable when a manager fails to make sure that a driver is adhering to driving hour restrictions and that driver falls asleep at the wheel, causing an accident. If a trainer fails to adequately prepare a driver for the road and that driver causes an accident due to lack of proper training, the carrier may be held liable for injuries sustained in that situation as well.
If you were injured in a commercial truck accident, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer in New Jersey at Williams Cedar. We understand the complexities of motor carrier liability and can help you determine which negligent parties may be held liable to maximize your recovery. We represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide. Contact us online or call us at 856-470-9777 to discuss your case.