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Determining Fault in a Truck Accident Claim
November 30, 2020

Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

After any vehicle collision, the first factor our attorneys consider is how one or more drivers contributed to the accident. Liability for the crash may rest with only one driver, or multiple drivers could be at fault.

When handling a truck accident claim, the truck driver is at the forefront of our investigation. However, we also take into account the many additional factors – and liable parties – that cause collisions.

If you have been injured or a loved one was injured or died as a result of a truck accident, you need an experienced attorney to handle your claim and pursue the compensation you deserve. Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd has been serving clients in Rhode Island for over 40 years. Our law firm has the experience, expertise, and record of success to help you and your family.

Please call (401) 273-8330 today for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys serve clients in Providence and throughout Rhode Island.

Determining Who Is At Fault for the Truck Accident

In-depth investigation is crucial for achieving a successful outcome in your truck accident case. The lawyers at Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd conduct thorough investigations to identify all of the liable parties in your case. We will examine the facts and collect evidence of the following:

The Liability of the Truck Driver

Commercial truck drivers have a responsibility to operate their rigs safely. They are trained to handle vehicles that are significantly larger and heavier than the average car.

In spite of these responsibilities, truck drivers commit many of the same errors we see among at-fault drivers in car accidents and other kinds of motor vehicle crashes:

  • Excess speed
  • Distracted driving such as eating, drinking, cell phone use, etc.
  • Tailgating another vehicle
  • Failure to check blind spots
  • Ignoring red lights, stop signs, and yield signs
  • Turning into oncoming traffic
  • Drifting into other lanes
  • Failure to adjust for weather and road conditions

Drunk driving accidents and collisions caused by abuse of prescription or illegal drugs are avoidable. Driving while intoxicated is another factor we see in far too many truck accident claims.

Our lawyers will investigate thoroughly to collect evidence as to whether or not the truck driver was under the influence at the time of the crash. We may also be able to file a dram shop liability claim on your behalf against the establishment that served too much alcohol to the truck driver.

The Liability of the Trucking Company

Businesses are legally responsible for the conduct of employees in the course of their jobs. If the truck driver was employed by a trucking company (as opposed to being an independent owner-operator), the company will also generally be liable for the damages you sustain in the accident.

Several theories may apply to the trucking company’s liability in your accident claim:

  • Negligent hiring: The company failed to verify that the driver had the necessary credentials and a clean safety record before hiring him, and/or failed to provide training for the new employee.
  • Negligent supervision: The company failed to monitor the truck driver for drug and alcohol violations, medical clearances, and/or compliance with other regulations.
  • Hours of service violations: Trucking is a fast-paced business. It is not uncommon for trucking companies to push drivers to deliver goods on extremely tight deadlines. This practice often forces drivers to work beyond the federally mandated maximum hours of service, which increases the risk of accidents involving fatigue.
  • Negligent maintenance: If the company owns the truck, trailer, or both components, it is responsible for following the maintenance schedule and getting parts repaired as needed. Failure to do so increases the risk of an accident stemming from wear and tear.

Trucking companies are required to maintain a number of different records that may be helpful in building your claim. However, they don’t have to hold on to these records indefinitely, so it is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.

Product Liability in Truck Accidents

The failure of a key part or system can cause a semi truck to crash. Defects in the design of the rig or in the manufacturing of parts can have disastrous consequences.

To build your truck accident claim, our lawyers will hire automotive and engineering experts to assess the tractor trailer for defects. Depending on the results of our investigation, you may be able to recover compensation through a product liability claim against the manufacturer and other companies responsible for the faulty part.

The Liability of the Shipping Company

The shipper is responsible for loading and securing cargo on the tractor trailer. The following errors may increase the risk of an accident:

  • Exceeding the weight limits for the truck
  • Overloading one or more of the axles
  • Failing to brace or tie down cargo using straps, ropes, chains, and other securement devices

Multiple parties are responsible for the stability and security of the cargo. In addition to the shipping company following proper loading practices, truck drivers must inspect the load at regular intervals. Companies that manufacture the door latches and locking mechanisms on semi-trailers, as well as the producers of securement devices and other equipment, must ensure that their products are effective in containing heavy loads.

What If I Was Partly At Fault for the Accident?

One of the concerns clients have after an accident is how their claim may be affected if they are found to be partially at fault for the crash. Each state has different laws governing negligence and the recovery of damages; most states have adopted a standard of comparative negligence (also known as comparative fault).

Rhode Island has instituted a “pure” comparative negligence law where the damages you can recover are reduced according to your share of the fault for the accident. Unlike many comparative negligence states, accident claimants in Rhode Island are not barred from recovery if they are determined to be 50 percent or more at fault for the crash.

So, you may be able to recover compensation for a semi truck crash even if you are partly at fault. It is important to contact an experienced truck accident attorney to discuss your rights and legal options.

Your Truck Accident Claim

Claims involving semi trucks and other commercial vehicles are complex. They frequently involve multiple liable parties, catastrophic injuries, and significant damages. Multiple insurance companies are typically involved as well, which means obtaining fair compensation can be an arduous process.

Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd has extensive experience handling serious accident and injury claims. No other law firm investigates and prepares cases with the same depth and attention to detail. This approach has enabled us to achieve more million-dollar and multi-million-dollar settlements and trial results than any firm in Rhode Island.  

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For a free case evaluation, please call Mandell, Boisclair & Mandell, Ltd at (401) 273-8330 today. Our truck accident attorneys serve clients in Providence and throughout Rhode Island.