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Who might be liable for a semi-truck collision?

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Semi/Tractor-Trailer Accidents

The need to allocate fault for a collision often leads to accusations levied at the scene of a crash. Both drivers involved in a collision may try to lay the blame for the incident on the other. Sometimes, one party clearly caused the crash while the other did little to contribute to it. Even in such circumstances, the driver at fault for the incident may try to deny their personal culpability for the collision. If a crash could cost someone their job, they might do whatever they deem necessary to try to avoid personal responsibility.

Unfortunately, semi-truck drivers involved in crashes often panic because they worry about becoming ineligible for a commercial driver’s license and potentially losing their primary source of income. They may try to deny the mistakes that they made prior to the crash or may even fabricate allegations against the other driver.

Thankfully, evidence ranging from traffic cameras to witness statements could help prove who actually caused the collision. Even when police officers eventually determine that the commercial truck operator caused the crash, there might still be questions about financial liability.

A business might actually be liable

Even though the driver is the one at fault for the crash, they are not necessarily financially liable for the effects of the collision. A large percentage of commercial drivers are employees. They work for transportation companies. Vicarious liability rules make their employers responsible for the crashes they cause through negligence or rule-breaking on the road.

Oftentimes, the company itself won’t pay for the crash but instead relies on insurance coverage. Commercial vehicles usually have very large policies attached because of the damage that they can cause. That means that financial responsibility for the crash may ultimately fall to the insurance provider. The insurance company may attempt to negotiate with the people in the other vehicle who suffered injuries and financial losses because of the crash.

In a small portion of semi-truck crashes, the driver of the truck may also technically be their own boss. Owner-operators may have personal liability if they cause a crash, although they typically carry the same type of insurance that larger commercial transportation companies do. Occasionally, an outside party might be liable instead of a transportation business. Certain scenarios, such as a client that improperly loaded a trailer or a defective component in the vehicle, might mean that an outside business is actually ultimately liable for the crash.

Instead of simply accepting that a crash has occurred and trying to cope with the financial consequences it generated, the people hurt in a semi-truck collision might need to take legal action to get the maximum amount of compensation that they’re rightfully owed. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to get started.

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