More Defendants are Involved
In any accident your attorney will bring a claim against all responsible parties. The adverse parties in car accidents are generally straightforward and usually involve the driver and owner of the vehicle. Occasionally there may be an additional party like an employer or governmental entity. Although a personal injury attorney may have a lot of experience in car accidents he/she may not recognize or appreciate the complexities involving multiple potential defendants like the following:
- Motor Carrier
- Consignees and consigners
- Freight forwarders
- Insurance companies
- Maintenance companies
- Repair companies
- Safety compliance companies
The relationships, responsibilities and liabilities between the above parties can become complex and difficult to understand because they are based on contractual, state and federal laws.
For example, consider the following simple question.
WHO DOES THE TRUCK DRIVER WORK FOR?
Determining who the driver works for is critical in every accident involving interstate trucking and is often the subject of major litigation because the carrier wants to distance themselves from the driver (who caused the accident) so the motor carrier will claim the driver is an independent contractor and therefore the carrier has no liability for the collision.
A driver may be an employee of the carrier or an independent owner/operator who leases his truck to the motor carrier. But leases create further issues because a lease may consist of a simple "trip lease" for a specific trip or a lease for a specific duration. Furthermore, a driver may lease his truck through a broker.
There may be additional leases or subleases involving:
- The tractor
- The trailer
- Both tractor and trailer
Furthermore, the liabilities of parties may change if the trucker is:
- Driving a loaded trailer
- Driving with an empty trailer
- Driving without a trailer
Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, a tractor and trailer are both considered commercial vehicles. Ownership of a commercial vehicle may subject the owner to liability in some states, whereas other states do not require ownership. A motor carrier may be liable for a drivers negligence based upon the theory of "logo liability" if the tractor bears the motor carriers logo.
PARTIES RELATED TO SAFETY
Third party companies have responsibilities and therefore may have liability for accidents under specific circumstances when the following are involved:
- Insurance companies
Most duties prescribed by the trucking safety regulations are non-delegable, however these third-party entities may have independent liability under specific circumstances.
PARTIES RELATED TO CARGO
In addition to parties who may have responsibility (and therefore liability) related to safety of commercial vehicles, there are additional entities that may have liability because of their involvement in the "cargo" including the following:
- Freight Forwarders
FIND YOUR TRUCK LAWYER HERE
If you or a loved one were involved in a truck accident you need a truck accident lawyer. Do not trust your truck accident claim to a general personal injury attorney! The Truck Lawyers have experience representing truck accidents victims just like you. We understand complex, multiple defendant litigation and the relationships between the respective parties who may have potential liability arising from contractual, federal and state laws.
Please call The Truck Lawyers for a free no obligation consultation today at (844) 800-8900.