Determining Liability in Big Rig Accidents

There are many factors involved in determining liability in semi truck, tractor-trailer or big rig accidents, of which there were over 400,000 in 2014. It can be difficult to determine liability because multiple players are involved – the driver, the truck company, the manufacturer of the truck’s parts and more – and multiple parties can be found at fault at once.

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Big Rig Accident?

When something goes wrong, and a big rig is involved in an accident, there are multiple people who can be at fault.

  • The truck driver
  • The owner of the truck
  • The person or company that leased the truck from the owner
  • The manufacturer of the truck or parts of the truck that were responsible for the accident
  • The company responsible for maintenance of the truck
  • The shipper or loader of the truck’s cargo if improper loading was the cause of the accident

Laws and Regulations Determine Liability

To make things even more complicated, trucking companies often do not own the trucks they use and hire drivers as independent contractors. In the past, this was one way that trucking companies would try to avoid liability in accidents, causing all parties involved to point fingers at one another.

Now, laws and regulations set forth by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration declare that any company that owns a trucking permit is responsible for all accidents involving a truck that has its name displayed on the vehicle.

Additional federal and state laws help determine who is actually liable in big rig accidents, including regulations for proper rest for the driver, maximum weight permissions, quality control of trucks and safely transporting hazardous waste.

Because big rig accidents can be quite complicated, it is recommended to consult with an experienced Arkansas truck accident attorney, like the attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, to understand who is at fault in your individual situation.

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