If you have been seriously injured in a Missouri semi-truck accident, you could be entitled to significant compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, your recovery could be contingent on whether you choose to file a claim against the truck driver, the owner of the transportation company, or both. Identifying the right defendant can be challenging, but it can improve your chances of securing the damages you need and the justice you deserve.
Potential Defendants in a Truck Accident Claim
People often make the mistake of thinking that semi-truck claims are not that different from automobile accident claims. While semi-truck owners and operators are obligated to hold private insurance policies, they also must follow a variety of local, state, and federal laws. Anyone involved in commercial transportation could be held liable for an accident if their negligence contributed to a serious collision and avoidable injury.
Who Might Be Liable for an MO Truck Accident
- The truck driver
- The truck driver’s employer
- The owner of the truck
- The cargo owner
- The cargo packager
- The truck manufacturer
- The truck parts manufacturer
Your Missouri truck accident attorney will help you determine who to file a claim against, but most personal injury lawsuits name the truck driver and the truck driver’s employer as defendants.
Truck Driver Liability in 18-Wheeler Accidents
The truck driver could be liable for your legal recovery if their negligence or misconduct contributed to your accident and injuries.
Reasons to File a Claim Against the Driver
- The truck driver was driving too fast or too slow for traffic conditions.
- The truck driver was intoxicated, sleep-deprived, or under the influence of strong prescription medication.
- The truck driver failed to navigate a turn, or tried to drive through a traffic-control signal without ensuring they had the right of way.
In general, truck drivers can be found at fault for making the same sort of mistakes as other drivers. However, they also have additional responsibilities. For example, truck drivers are expected to regularly check their vehicles for defective equipment. If a driver did not notice they had a broken brake light or reflector and it contributed to your accident, they could be responsible for the ensuing damages.
Employer Liability in Semi-Truck Collisions
Semi-trucks are among the largest vehicles on the road. While most semi-truck drivers are trained professionals, they still make mistakes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) tries to minimize accident rates by requiring truck drivers and trucking companies to follow certain legal procedures. If a trucking company neglects its federally mandated duties, it could be held directly or partially at-fault for an over-the-road accident.
Reasons to File a Claim Against the Trucking Company
- They hired a driver with a poor safety record.
- They hired a driver with a history of failing mandatory drug and alcohol tests.
- They hired a driver without the proper training or failed to train a driver before letting them take independent trips.
- They encouraged, coerced, or turned a blind eye to employees breaking federal trucking regulations such as asking drivers to skip mandatory rest periods to make a delivery on time.
- They do not regularly maintain or inspect their semi-trucks and trailers for mechanical defects.
How Employers Try to Evade Accountability
Missouri law recognizes a legal doctrine called “respondeat superior.” This Latin phrase means “let the master answer.” Under respondeat superior, the owner of a logistics company could be held liable for their employee’s misconduct if the driver was working at the time of the accident. However, employers often push back against any argument invoking respondeat superior.
Ways Employers Try to Dismiss a Claim
- They’ll say the driver is an independent, third-party “owner-contractor” who they do not directly employ.
- They’ll say the driver was not on duty at the time of the accident.
- They’ll say the driver’s misconduct occurred outside the scope of their regular employment and did not result from negligent employer practices or policies.
The Importance of Identifying the Right Defendant
It’s critical that the correct defendant be held liable for the truck accident, so you recover fair compensation and all the compensation you deserve. Beck & Beck Attorneys can help identify the right defendant in your Missouri semi-truck accident.
How Attorneys Determine the Defendant to Hold Liable
- Investigating the circumstances of your accident
- Analyzing the nature of the semi-truck driver’s relationship to and with the trucking company
- Reviewing the semi-truck operator’s driving record
- Checking the logistic company’s safety and violations history
- Interviewing eyewitnesses
- Subpoenaing surveillance camera footage
Have You Been Injured in a Missouri Commercial Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Missouri truck accident you should speak with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Please feel free to contact us online or call our office directly at 314.200.1229 to schedule a free consultation. We help pedestrian accident victims throughout the state of Missouri including Columbia, Springfield, Kansas City, St. Louis, Kirksville, and Cape Girardeau.