Who is Liable in an 18-Wheeler Accident?
Being involved in an 18-wheeler accident is a scary situation for a driver. A passenger vehicle will always incur more damage than an 18-wheeler or semi-truck simply due to differences in size and force on impact. In 2021, 117,300 large trucks (defined by the National Safety Council as any large or medium truck, excluding buses or motor homes, weighing greater than 10,000 lbs.) were involved in a crash. Of those, 5700 resulted in death.
Some of the largest trucking companies in the United States include UPS, J.B. Hunt, and XPO Logistics.
Which party is liable if I am in an 18-wheeler accident?
There are a host of parties that can be held liable:
- The truck driver. This individual can either be an independent contractor or employee. They could be liable if they were speeding, distracted, fell asleep at the wheel, texting while driving, or failed to yield the right of way. Any one of these factors are intensified in adverse weather conditions such as rain, flooded roadways, sleet or freezes.
The truck driver can also be responsible for maintaining their rig and performing inspections on the truck prior to hitting the road. If they failed to perform their checks or did not maintain their truck, the individual could have additional responsibility attributed to them.
- The carrier. The truck company is responsible for the truck drivers they hire and for the maintenance of their fleet.
Due to a national truck driver shortage, companies may feel pressured to hire under qualified drivers, push drivers to continue to drive past their physical limitations, or fail to provide adequate training. Carriers can also financially incentivize their drivers with unrealistic metrics, which in turn causes drivers to engage in risky driving practices to meet their goals.
More so than the individual driver, the carrier is responsible for the maintenance, inspection and repair of their fleet. Motor carriers can also engage in practices such as improperly loading cargo or not safely securing loads.
Who else can be found liable?
Other parties involved in a commercial vehicle accident can include:
- The truck manufacturer
- Other passenger vehicles (such as one that might cut off an 18-wheeler and then speed away)
- Shipping companies
- Truck owners (if not owned by a carrier)
- Third-party repair shops
Insurance coverage is very different for 18-wheelers than it is for your personal car. There are multiple coverages available to properly compensate you for things like medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages and more.
A Houston 18-wheeler accident attorney can help!
If you are in an 18-wheeler accident, you should consult with an experienced, board-certified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will develop a strategy to give you the most compensation to recover and move forward with your life.
Scott Callahan is a board-certified Katy personal injury lawyer by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been in practice for 25 years. Give us a call today – we are available 24/7 at 713-888-9000.