Determining Liability for Commercial Vehicle Accidents

Commercial vehicles accounted for more than 379,000 property damage causing accidents in 2014. Determining liability in a commercial vehicle accident is not always a straightforward affair.

Multiple players are involved in truck, bus and big rig accidents, which creates some complications when determining who is at fault. The driver, the truck or bus company, the manufacturer of the vehicle’s parts and others can be found liable – and multiple parties can be found at fault at once.

To add to the confusion, truck and bus companies often do not own the vehicles they use and hire drivers as independent contractors. Before laws and regulations were put into place, this was one way that trucking companies would try to avoid liability in accidents, causing all parties involved to point fingers at one another

Who Can Be Held Liable in a Commercial Vehicle Accident?

Multiple parties can be found at fault when a commercial vehicle is involved in an accident. Entities that can be liable include:

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

Laws and Regulations Determine Liability

The Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have enacted several regulations that help determine liability. Now, 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 commercial vehicle accidents, including regulations for proper rest for the driver, maximum weight permissions, quality control of trucks and safely transporting hazardous waste.

Because commercial vehicle accidents can be quite complicated, it is recommended to consult with an experienced Arkansas truck accident lawyer to understand who is at fault in your individual situation.

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