Who is Liable for a Truck Accident?

March 3, 2024 | Ed Bernstein
Who is Liable for a Truck Accident?

Truck drivers, trucking companies, maintenance facilities, and truck part manufacturers may all share in some or all of the blame for a truck accident. If you suffered injuries in a recent truck collision that resulted from someone else's negligence, an experienced truck accident attorney can explore your legal rights and options.

First, a truck accident lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident and gather important documents to prove the legal elements of your claim. Your lawyer can then file a personal injury claim with the responsible party's insurance company or file a lawsuit in the court system when necessary.


Possible Responsible Parties in Truck Accident Cases 

Responsibility for a truck accident can extend to various individuals or entities involved in the operation and maintenance of the commercial truck. The primary party who is often responsible is the truck driver. If the driver engages in negligent behaviors such as speeding, reckless driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may be directly liable for the accident.

The trucking company that owns or operates the commercial truck may also share in responsibility for the accident. If the company fails to properly train its drivers, enforces unrealistic delivery schedules, or neglects vehicle maintenance, their negligence can contribute to accidents. The employer may also be accountable for the actions of its employees under the legal doctrine of vicarious liability.

Vehicle maintenance providers or third-party contractors responsible for inspecting and repairing the truck may also bear some responsibility if their negligence leads to mechanical failures. This includes issues such as brake malfunctions, tire blowouts, or other mechanical failures contributing to the truck accident.

Manufacturers of truck components or the truck itself may also be liable if a defect or malfunction in the vehicle or its parts contributes to the accident. This may involve faulty brakes, defective tires, or other manufacturing issues compromising the truck's safety.

In certain cases, shippers or cargo loaders may be responsible if improperly loaded or secured cargo contributes to the accident. Overloaded or unbalanced cargo can affect the truck's stability and handling, leading to hazardous driving conditions.

Governmental entities responsible for maintaining road safety may share responsibility in cases where road design or maintenance issues contribute to the accident. Poorly designed intersections, lack of proper signage, or inadequate road maintenance may contribute to accidents involving commercial trucks.

Determining responsibility in a truck accident due to negligence often involves a comprehensive investigation to identify all contributing factors and liable parties. Seeking legal guidance is crucial for understanding the complexities of assigning responsibility and pursuing a claim for compensation against the appropriate individuals or entities involved in the trucking operation.

Types of Truck Accidents 

Who is Liable for a Truck Accident?

There are many types of truck accidents, and the type of collision often helps recreate what led to the crash and identify liability.

One common category is rear-end collisions, where a truck collides with the rear of another vehicle. This can result from the truck driver's failure to maintain a safe following distance, impaired visibility, or delayed reactions, often due to distractions or fatigue.

Another type is jackknife accidents, occurring when the truck trailer swings outward, forming an angle with the cab. Improper braking can lead to this dangerous scenario, particularly when brakes on the trailer lock up. Inadequate training, reckless driving, or adverse road conditions may contribute to truck jackknife accidents.

Underride accidents are another significant category, involving a smaller vehicle sliding beneath the rear or side of a truck. This often occurs when a truck abruptly stops, and the following vehicle cannot decelerate in time. Negligent actions like sudden lane changes or inadequate signaling can contribute to underride accidents.

Rollover accidents involve the truck tipping over onto its side or roof. Speeding, improper cargo loading (per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations), or abrupt steering maneuvers can lead to rollovers. Negligence in maintaining proper tire pressure, conducting routine vehicle inspections, or addressing mechanical issues can exacerbate the risk of rollover accidents.

Wide-turn accidents occur when a truck makes a wide turn, affecting adjacent lanes and colliding with nearby vehicles. Failure to signal, driver inattention, or misjudgment of available space can lead to wide-turn accidents.

Similarly, blind spot accidents involve smaller vehicles entering a truck's blind spots, leading to collisions when the truck changes lanes or makes a turn. Negligence in checking blind spots, failure to use mirrors effectively, or insufficient signaling can contribute to these occurrences.

Determining liability in these categories often involves investigating the specific circumstances and identifying the negligent actions of the truck driver, trucking company, or other parties involved. Addressing these factors is crucial for pursuing a legal claim and seeking monetary compensation for injuries and damages resulting from truck accidents due to negligence. Seeking legal counsel is essential for navigating the complexities associated with these various categories of truck accidents and ensuring that victims receive the monetary compensation they deserve.

Injuries from Truck Collisions

Accidents involving tractor-trailers and smaller vehicles can lead to a range of severe injuries when negligence is a contributing factor. One common injury is whiplash, resulting from the sudden acceleration or deceleration of the impact. The forceful motion of the head and neck can cause strains, sprains, and soft tissue injuries, leading to considerable pain and discomfort for the occupants of the smaller vehicle.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are also common in truck accidents. The collision force or subsequent secondary collisions can cause head injuries, ranging from concussions to more severe brain trauma. TBIs can also have long-lasting consequences, affecting an accident victim’s overall quality of life, long-term memory, and cognitive functioning.

Spinal injuries, including herniated discs, fractures, or even paralysis, are frequent outcomes of truck accidents. The force of the collision can cause significant trauma to the spine, affecting the nerves and spinal cord. Victims may also experience persistent pain, permanent disability, or limited mobility.

Broken bones and fractures are also common in truck accidents due to the immense forces involved. The collision can lead to fractures in the pelvis, ribs, legs, or arms, necessitating immediate medical attention and often requiring surgical intervention.

Internal injuries, such as organ damage or internal bleeding, can occur when the force of the collision affects the body's internal structures. These injuries may not be immediately apparent and can pose life-threatening risks if the accident victim does not seek prompt medical treatment after the collision.

Burn injuries may result from truck accidents, particularly in cases where a collision leads to a fire or explosion. The flammable nature of certain cargo or the rupture of truck fuel tanks can expose occupants to burns of varying degrees, requiring extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and emotional distress, are also common. The mental and emotional toll of a truck accident – especially when severe injuries or fatalities occur – can have a long-standing effect on accident victims and their families.

Addressing the aftermath of these injuries often involves pursuing legal recourse to seek monetary compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the truck driver or trucking company's negligence. Seeking prompt medical attention and legal guidance is essential for ensuring the best possible outcomes for those affected by these types of injuries in truck accidents.

Filing a Lawsuit after a Truck Accident

Filing a lawsuit after a truck accident stemming from a truck driver or trucking company's negligence involves a series of crucial steps to seek legal recourse and compensation for the damages incurred.

  • Seek Ongoing Medical Attention – Prioritize your health and well-being by seeking ongoing medical attention for any injuries you sustained in the truck accident. Prompt medical documentation is not only essential for your recovery but also serves as vital evidence in the legal process.
  • Gather Evidence – Collect and preserve evidence related to the accident. This includes taking photographs of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any visible injuries. Gather relevant documents, such as medical records, police reports, and communications with trucking company or insurance company representatives. 
  • Legal Investigation – Your attorney will conduct a thorough legal investigation into the truck accident. This step frequently involves obtaining records from the trucking company, reviewing the truck driver's logbooks, analyzing maintenance records, and assessing any potential violations of federal or state regulations governing the trucking industry.
  • Calculate Damages – Work with your attorney to calculate the damages resulting from the accident. This includes medical expenses, property damage, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and any other losses incurred due to the negligence of the truck driver or trucking company.
  • Draft and File the Lawsuit – Your attorney will draft the legal complaint outlining the details of the truck accident, the negligence involved, the individuals/entities involved, and the damages sought. The lawsuit is then filed in the appropriate court, initiating the legal proceedings.
  • Discovery Phase – Both parties engage in the discovery process, where relevant documents, witness statements, and other pieces of evidence are exchanged. Depositions may gather sworn testimony from key individuals involved.
  • Continued Settlement Negotiation or Trial – Following the discovery phase, the parties may engage in ongoing negotiations to reach a settlement. If a fair settlement is not achievable, the case proceeds to trial, where evidence is presented before a judge and jury to determine liability and damages.

Navigating the legal process after a truck accident requires careful attention to detail and the guidance of a skilled attorney. Each step is crucial in building a strong case and pursuing the compensation necessary for recovery and rehabilitation.

Recovering Damages for Injuries in a Truck Collision

Recovering Damages for Injuries in a Truck Collision

A truck accident victim, as a result of a truck driver or trucking company's negligence, may recover various types of financial damages to address the diverse effects on their life. Compensation should cover both economic and non-economic damages, aiming to restore the victim to their pre-accident state. Monetary damages may include compensation for all of the following:

  • Medical Expenses (Past and Future) – Victims are entitled to recover costs associated with medical treatments, surgeries, rehabilitation, and ongoing healthcare needs resulting from the truck accident. This includes expenses incurred in the past as well as anticipated future medical costs.
  • Lost Income – Compensation for lost income accounts for what the victim did not earn due to their inability to work following the truck accident. This encompasses the period of recovery and may extend to the future if the injuries lead to a lasting effect on their earning capacity.
  • Pain and Suffering – Non-economic damages like pain and suffering address the physical and emotional distress that the accident victim experienced (and which they may continue to experience) due to the truck accident. This form of compensation aims to recognize and quantify the intangible hardships endured during the recovery process.
  • Mental Distress – Emotional or psychological trauma resulting from the truck accident, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or depression, can be compensable. Mental distress damages seek to acknowledge and address the emotional toll of the traumatic event on the accident victim’s life.
  • Loss of Consortium – In cases where the victim's injuries significantly affect their relationship with a spouse, loss of consortium damages may be recoverable. This compensation acknowledges the negative effects on the marital relationship, including companionship, affection, and support.
  • Loss of Use of a Body Part – If the truck accident leads to the loss or impairment of a body part, compensation may be available for the loss of use or the diminished functionality of that specific body part. This recognizes the significant effect on the victim's daily life and activities.

Collectively, these financial damages strive to provide comprehensive compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial toll of a truck accident resulting from someone else’s negligence. Seeking legal representation is crucial to assess the full extent of damages and pursue a fair and just compensation package for the truck accident victim.

Contact a Local Truck Accident Lawyer Today

If you suffered injuries in a commercial truck accident, always consult with a skilled personal injury lawyer in your area as soon as possible. Your attorney can file your personal injury claim or lawsuit within the appropriate statute of limitations time frame and work to secure the favorable financial recovery you deserve to become whole again.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.