Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident in Tennessee?
Truck accidents are extremely dangerous. The size and weight of tractor-trailers, rigs, and other commercial trucks mean that when cars and trucks collide, the occupants of the car are likely to die or suffer catastrophic injuries. Catastrophic injuries include spinal cord injuries, head trauma, burns, and internal organ damage. Truck accidents also cause broken bones and soft tissue injuries.
Because the injuries can be so severe, it is important that the liable party is held accountable. Truck accident lawsuits, however, are not simple; there can be, and often are, multiple liable parties. The more defendants there are, the greater the likelihood that victims will receive a full recovery from the defendants’ insurance companies. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our seasoned Memphis truck accident lawyers work with investigators to determine how the accident happened. We file claims against all liable parties if you are injured in a collision with an 18-wheeler.
Why a truck driver is liable for trucking accidents
Truck drivers are responsible for their actions behind the wheel. When they cause accidents due to fatigue, distraction, speeding, and or drunk/drugged driving, they can be held accountable for it. They can also be held accountable for when they fail to perform their duties with care, and you suffer an injury and loss as a result. Commercial truck drivers are required to:
- Keep logs of the trips documenting the location points and the hours they drove the truck.
- Limit their driving to no more than the daily and weekly limits set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
- Comply with the Tennessee traffic laws.
- Stay focused on the traffic around them.
- Understand the truck’s blind spots.
- Turn and backup properly.
Failure to follow the rules can lead to disaster. Driver negligence may cause a truck to jackknife, rollover, cause multi-vehicle accidents if cargo spills, and many other types of trucking accidents.
Why are trucking companies liable for trucking accidents?
The trucking companies that hire the truck drivers have certain duties regarding the hiring of truck drivers and the monitoring of a truck driver’s performance. Generally:
- Trucking companies that hire the drivers to transport their inventory must check that the driver has a current CDL. Drivers should be vetted to determine if they have a safe driving record and whether any complaints have been filed against the driver for negligence, violating company policy, or violating any state or federal laws.
- Trucking companies must make sure their drivers comply with the FMCSA Hours of Service rules. Truck companies who allow their drivers to drive without enough rest in order to make more deliveries can be held liable if a driver gets into an accident.
- Trucking companies must comply with federal regulations that regulate maintenance of brakes, tires, and other parts of the truck that might fail and cause serious Memphis truck accidents. The owners of the trucks are responsible for conducting in-house repairs or hiring quality maintenance and repair companies.
The owners of any truck could be held liable for any accidents caused by a driver who has permission to use that truck. It depends on the circumstances, but it is an option we can explore depending on the details of your case.
When are loading companies liable for a truck accident?
There are federal regulations that govern the weight of trucks and the proper ways to load the trucks. The Occupational Health Safety Administration (OSHA) has specific requirements for different types of loads. The loading companies must also comply with industry standards for the specific type and truck and specific type of load.
Trucks that are overloaded or improperly loaded can cause imbalances and shifts that can cause the driver of the truck to lose control of the truck. Truck spills create dangers for the truck driver and all the cars and trucks that are near the spill. Drivers may either crash into each other while trying to avoid the spill or may run over the spilled cargo. Cargo spills often cause the truck to roll over or jackknife. Truck spills also often cause multi-car accidents.
There are different loading regulations and requirements for liquids, heavy machinery, agricultural products, tress, hazardous cargo, and other goods and products.
The liability of shipping companies for the negligence of independent contractors
Normally shipping companies are liable for the negligence of their employees but are not liable for the negligence of independent contractors. Shipping goods may qualify for an exception on the theory of negligent hiring. This means that the shipping company involved in the transport may be liable if they fail to conduct background checks and vet the contractors and the trucks they use to load the cargo and drive the truck.
The liability of truck manufacturers when defects lead to crashes
The manufacturers of truck parts have a duty to ensure the product design and product workmanship are not defective. The instructions on how to use the parts should be clear. There should be warnings to alert owners and drivers of any known dangers. Manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of defective truck parts are liable for any injuries or deaths that a truck defect causes.
Possible design defects include defective tires which can cause blowouts, defective straps that can cause cargo spills, defective hydraulic systems, and defective fuel lines. Defective brakes can cause collisions. Defective coupling systems can cause a tractor-trailer to jackknife.
Truck companies that are aware of any recalls by federal agencies or due to their own investigations should take their trucks off the road and alert the owners about the defective truck parts – including possible remedies.
Our seasoned Memphis truck accident lawyers understand the various federal laws, Tennessee state laws, and trucking industry standards apply to each type of trucking accident. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we work with investigators, traffic reconstruction professionals, engineers, and product safety experts to determine how trucking accidents happen and who should be responsible. We demand compensation for all your financial and personal damages. To speak with a seasoned truck accident lawyer in Memphis or Jackson, call us at 901-475-7434 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We handle truck accident cases on a contingency fee basis.
As founder of Bailey & Greer, R. Sadler Bailey has battled his fair share of insurance giants and wrongdoers and has achieved numerous multimillion-dollar results for the victims of catastrophic injuries and their families. What’s more, he has been involved in more than 40 appellate court decisions affecting Tennessee personal injury law, including many landmark appearances before the Tennessee Supreme Court.
Read more about R. Sadler Bailey