When someone in a passenger vehicle gets into a crash caused by a large commercial vehicle, it is often the driver of the semitruck who faces any personal injury lawsuit brought by the victims.
However, there are circumstances in which the company that hired that driver could also have some financial and legal liability for the crash and the injuries and losses it produced. When is a trucking company potentially liable or at fault for a crash caused by one of their drivers?
Did the company fail to properly maintain the vehicle?
In a federal analysis of the causes of major crashes involving commercial trucks, officials were able to determine a number of contributory factors that caused the collisions.
In situations where the truck is the responsible vehicle for the crash, vehicle issues, such as due to faulty maintenance or repairs, are responsible for a staggering 10% of big rig crashes. Bad breaks, inadequate safety guards and even rusted components could all contribute directly to how well a driver can respond to dangerous changes in traffic.
If you can show that the crash is the direct result of inadequate or improper vehicle maintenance performed by the company, you may be able to bring a claim against them for putting an unsafe truck out on the road.
Did the company’s culture contribute to the crash?
Some transportation companies expect their drivers to do things they know are illegal, like respond to text messages while at the wheel or drive for much longer than the rules allow.
If you can show that the company culture directly contributed to the circumstances of the crash, possibly by encouraging the driver, you may be able to bring a claim against the company for promoting dangerous work behaviors.
Did the company knowingly hire an unsafe driver?
The demand for commercial transportation services has increased in recent years, which means that there are more loads to carry. Companies might make the decision to bend their own hiring rules and bring in drivers with questionable backgrounds if they are desperate for staff.
If the company hired a driver with previous serious infractions, like impaired driving, they may be partially responsible if that driver repeated their previous infractions and caused an injury to you or someone you love.