purchase, george & murphey.

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Determining Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident

April 11, 2021

A truck accident can have a devastating impact on the occupants of other vehicles involved in the crash, who may be left with significant injuries and resulting financial burdens from medical bills and lost income. If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you may wonder whether you can hold the truck driver responsible for the damages and losses that you have suffered. Continue reading to find out who is liable for a truck accident.

Why Might a Truck Driver Be Responsible for an Accident?

Many truck accidents are caused by a truck driver’s negligent or reckless operation of their rig. A truck driver might be held responsible for the injuries and damages resulting from an accident due to the truck driver:

  • Speeding
  • Driving too fast for road conditions
  • Tailgating, or following another vehicle too closely
  • Recklessly driving, including weaving through traffic
  • Driving while drowsy or fatigued
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while distracted, such as by a cell phone, radio, navigation system, or food and drink
  • Failing to inspect their vehicle before getting on the road
  • Failing to properly secure their load, or failing to ensure that their load is safe (including that the load is properly balanced)
  • Failing to check mirrors, blind spots, and camera when changing lanes, turning, or backing up, as the large size of a commercial truck can hamper visibility

When Can You Hold the Trucking Company Responsible for the Truck Driver’s Negligence?

Even when a truck driver is responsible for causing a truck accident, you may be entitled to hold the trucking company liable for the accident. When the trucking company employs the truck driver, you can hold the trucking company responsible for the driver’s actions under the doctrine of employer liability, also known as respondeat superior, which makes employers liable for negligent actions their workers commit in the course and scope of employment.

In many cases, trucking companies can also be held responsible for their own negligence, even when the truck driver was responsible for the crash. For example, a trucking company can be held responsible when:

  • The company knowingly hires a driver with an unsafe record or fails to conduct a reasonable background check that would uncover the driver’s record
  • The company fails to properly train the driver in the safe operation of their rig
  • The company fails to exercise proper oversight of drivers, which allows or encourages drivers to engage in negligent or reckless behaviors
  • The company instructs drivers to engage in negligent or reckless behavior, such as driving past their hours-of-service limitations in order to meet delivery deadlines

Why Would You Sue the Trucking Company and Not the Truck Driver?

In most cases, it makes sense to hold a trucking company responsible for a truck accident, either in lieu of or in addition to holding the truck driver responsible when the driver’s negligence causes the crash. The trucking company will likely have significantly greater financial resources, including large insurance coverages, that will be more likely to ensure you are fully compensated for your losses. Conversely, the truck driver may only be an employee of the trucking company and may not have much in the way of financial assets that could compensate you for your injuries.

Contact an Erie Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Truck Accident Case in Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to a truck accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. represent clients injured because of truck accidents in Millcreek, Harborcreek, Fairview, Meadville, and throughout Pennsylvania. Call (814) 833-7100 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 2525 W. 26th St., Erie, P.A. 16506, as well as offices in Meadville and North East.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.