Who’s At Fault for a Truck Accident? The Driver or the Truck Company?
Truckers are commercial drivers, frequently driving in company-owned vehicles for company-specific purposes. As such, the legal entity of a “truck,” when it causes an accident, is comprised of the responsibilities of both the individual driver and the company which employs them. This can make it difficult to understand who’s responsible for what and when. In general, both the trucker and truck company can be liable, or one or the other might be solely responsible based on a variety of criteria; either way, it’s best to ask a Phoenix truck accident attorney to be sure.
The Truck Driver
The truck driver is usually the first person people turn to when a truck accident occurs; they’re the first point of contact for their company, and are furthermore the one who was directly involved in the collision. While it’s true that collisions can periodically be outside of a driver’s control, such as in cases with truck accidents caused by mechanical failure or external causes, in truth, nearly half of accidents involve driver error. A truck driver may be liable if they:
- Were an independent contractor in a personally owned vehicle, severing the company’s liability for their actions.
- Were off duty, and the collision was not traceable to company-specific matters such as maintenance.
- Acted with deliberate, malicious, or reckless intent; this could involve aggressive driving or road rage.
- Were impaired or intoxicated (exceeding Arizona’s trucker BAC limit of just 0.04%). This may also reflect shared liability on the company’s behalf.
- Failed to perform basic inspections and maintenance as their company would expect them to do.
The Trucking Company
Companies are responsible for their employees, and that holds doubly true for the commercial trucking industry. In addition to having responsibility for truckers acting within the scope of their employment, trucking companies have a direct hand in the maintenance and regulation of their fleet, which can result in quite a few scenarios in which they could be liable for an accident:
- Failed to inspect, maintain, and repair their trucks frequently, or failed to do so with appropriate standards of precision and quality.
- Knowingly permitted or encouraged a driver to break Arizona’s hours of service regulations, resulting in illegal overtime and drowsy drivers.
- Negligently hired an unqualified driver (or one with known issues, like DUIs) and/ or failed to provide drivers with appropriate training and certifications.
- Otherwise failed to enforce federal laws and company policies to a reasonable level, resulting in negligent practices.
Ask an Arizona Truck Accident Attorney
Determining fault in a collision is ultimately best left to the professionals, so schedule a free consultation with one of ELG’s truck accident lawyers in Arizona at (623) 877-3600 today. We can help you learn more about the recovery process, the role that fault will play in your compensation, and methods by which to prove that certain parties are more liable than others, all while taking tedium and confusion out of the equation for you. Truck drivers and companies alike have plenty to lose, so they’re sure to fight back against your claim as strongly as possible, necessitating the assistance of a specialist in truck accident claims.