The Difficulties of Getting Compensation after a Truck Accident
A major problem with trucking accidents is that commercial trucks, and especially tractor-trailer trucks, often inflict far more damage and injury during an accident than the truck driver can afford to compensate. This means a negligence claim is only worth as much as the plaintiff can actually recover from the negligent party. The truck driver must actually have resources to compensate the plaintiff, whether it be through insurance, savings, or personal worth.
Since an individual truck driver is unlikely to be able to afford compensation, the plaintiff must look to other potentially responsible parties. This could be the truck driver’s employer (the carrier), or possibly the manufacturers if the equipment contributed to the auto accident. These parties are likely to have assets or adequate insurance to compensate the victims of the accident.
In order to recover damages from a carrier or manufacturer, the plaintiff must demonstrate that liability rested with them by showing one of the below theories:
- Employer Liability
- Lease Liability
- Negligent Hiring, Entrustment, or Retention
- Negligent Inspection, Maintenance, or Repair
- Violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation
Respondeat Superior. This Latin phrase simply refers to the legal doctrine of holding employers responsible for the negligence of their employees. Therefore, the employer of the truck driver will be liable for the driver’s negligence in the event of an accident. Some carriers now distance themselves from their truck drivers by hiring independent contractors. In these types of cases, the negligence of the truck driver alone will not be sufficient to hold the employer liable for damages.
In this situation, a carrier leases both a truck and a driver and therefore has ‘exclusive possession’ under the federal regulations. This then becomes the same as Employer Liability and the driver’s negligence flows to the carrier.
Negligent Hiring, Entrustment, or Retention
Carriers have a duty not to hire, entrust, or retain individuals who are unreasonably likely to harm others. This means that if a carrier knowingly hires a dangerous driver, or uses a truck that is not safe to be on the road, they will be liable for any damages caused.
Negligent Maintenance, Inspection, or Repair
Federal regulations require carriers to keep maintenance records and undertake regular inspections of their trucks. If an accident is partially attributable to mechanical failure, the carrier has to produce adequate maintenance and inspection records to evidence that they fulfilled their federal duty. If they are unable to do so, they may be held liable for damages.
Violations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations
If an interstate carrier violates any of the federal safety regulations and it leads to injury, the interstate carrier will be liable without the need to demonstrate negligence.
Discovering who is at fault after a truck accident can be a difficult and taxing prospect, and that is why you should seek out the help of an experienced and knowledgeable accident attorney. The law firm of Charles J. Argento & Associates is here to help you.
Hours of Service Law and Truck Accidents in Texas
18-wheeler accidents plague major roads in Central Texas, particularly Interstate 35, which is notorious for crashes involving tractor-trailers, semi-trucks and large rigs.
Defective equipment, speeding, distracted driving, and inadequate rest, are common causes of truck crashes in the region. Federal regulations such as the New Hours of Service Law for truck drivers seek to reduce truck accidents because of the greater potential for property damage and loss of lives that can arise from a collision with these massive commercial vehicles.
Safety Rules in Texas
Truck accidents along Interstate 35 in Central Texas cause severe injuries, major property damage, and heavy traffic. Taking a proactive approach, the Department of Public Safety recently conducted Operation Roadcheck on 9,000 trucks traveling Interstate 35. DPS found that one in 5 trucks had safety and equipment maintenance issues.
On the other hand, drivers have voiced objections to the implementation of the new Hours of Service law, which require truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first 8 hours of a driving shift, and limits the maximum work cycle at 70 hours.
Under the new rule, a driver who completes a 70-hour work cycle must take a rest period of 34 consecutive hours before resuming work. The new hours of service rule was implemented in July 2013.
Despite the new hours of service rule and other road safety rules, truck accidents continue to happen along Interstate 35. If you are involved in a truck accident in Texas, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, lost income, and pain and suffering.
Preparing a claim for compensation requires knowledge of tort laws and civil procedure for presenting and proving your claim. The process is a complex one and going after the driver, his employer and their insurer may be a challenge unless you obtain the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer in Texas.
Representing Clients in Texas
In Texas, the law firm of Charles J. Argento & Associates has years of proven experience in truck accidents, aggressively pursuing claims for compensation and obtaining settlements for clients.
We also handle other personal injuries cases such as medical malpractice, auto accidents, premises liability, and wrongful death. To arrange a free consultation to discuss your specific case, we invite you to call us today at (713) 225-5050.
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