Collisions between semi-trucks and standard passenger vehicles occur daily throughout the United States. These wrecks are often tragic, as bigger trucks can destroy smaller vehicles and cause debilitating or fatal injuries for their occupants.
Occasionally, people in smaller vehicles do something unsafe in traffic that causes one of these crashes. However, a sizable portion of semi-truck collisions occur because of something a truck driver did or an issue with their vehicle.
Drivers and their employers are usually liable for crash-related harm
Most of the time, when a semi-truck causes the crash, something that the driver did is the reason for the wreck. However, regardless of whether a commercial driver fell asleep at the wheel or decided to text while driving, they may not have direct financial liability for the crash.
The standard approach for such matters is to treat the employer as liable for the actions of the employee and any damages they generated through negligence on the job. However, if someone is an owner-operator who purchased their vehicle and works as a self-employed professional, the driver or the small business that they operate will likely have direct liability for the crash. In most other cases, the transportation company that hired the driver will be liable. Their commercial insurance policy will compensate the people affected by the collision instead of the resources of the individual truck driver.
Third parties can also be liable
There are a handful of other businesses that might have responsibility for a semi-truck crash. These include vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers, as well as organizations that do maintenance on semi-trucks. Finally, clients that hire commercial transportation companies could have some liability for collisions if they improperly load a trailer or provide a trailer themselves that is in poor condition.
Determining who is actually liable for a crash is a crucial first step toward pursuing compensation after a collision with a semi-truck. Seeking legal guidance proactively can be very helpful in this regard.