start Free Consultation

Responsibility For A Truck Accident In West Virginia

Truck accidents are some of the most dangerous accidents that occur because of the weight of the vehicle and its inability to slow down quickly or make sharp turns. In addition, truck accidents usually involve various parties – the driver, the injured parties, the company, and the insurance companies.

What Are The Common Causes Of Truck Accidents?

Accidents often occur because of truck driver errors, vehicle malfunctions, or negligence by other drivers. Therefore, truck drivers should always be appropriately licensed and trained to drive their vehicles. Additionally, drivers must follow specific regulations, such as mandatory breaks and maximum driving hours within a particular timeframe. Trucks are also required to be adequately maintained and regularly checked because the following malfunctions can cause a driver to lose control and crash:

  • Steering
  • Lighting
  • Powertrain
  • Connections and hitches
  • Suspension
  • Brakes

Evidence For Determining Truck Accident Liability

Similar to any other accident, when in a truck accident, it is essential, even if it is minor, to pull over and assess the damage. Individuals should report truck accidents to the police and take pictures. They should contact trucking and insurance companies to inform them of the process to follow. For example, each truck company likely has unique procedures for its drivers when an accident occurs. Still, individuals should take pictures and behave as if it were any other accident. In some cases, the truck will have a black box and video footage of the inside of the truck cab that the police will review and will be discoverable when preparing for trial.

Additionally, truckers must log their activity to ensure that they stay within time limits and take their mandatory breaks; they can do this by hand or electronically. These will generally be considered company records, which means they will be accessible during the discovery phase of a trial as well.

Potential Liable Parties

Because of the complexity of getting a truck on the road, numerous individuals may be fully liable, or a variety of people may be partially responsible. The entities below may be individually or jointly liable for damages.

Truck Driver

In some cases, a truck driver negligently causes an accident because of irresponsible actions, such as speeding, driving while fatigued, or driving while distracted. If a driver breaks the law and causes an accident, the individual may be liable for more than just the damages caused and may face criminal liability. Additionally, a truck driver is required and responsible for inspecting their truck to ensure it is road ready.

Sometimes, there was a problem with maintenance or the cargo, which the driver should have caught. In that case, the driver can also be liable because their failure to maintain their vehicle and cargo caused the accident.

Speeding

Speeding in a semi-truck can be extremely dangerous because a fully loaded trailer can weigh 80,000 pounds, making it extremely difficult to slow down and avoid hazards ahead. It may also make it easier to flip if a driver takes a corner at too high of a speed or a trucker must swerve while driving at high speed.

Driving Fatigued

It is dangerous for every driver to drive tired, but for a trucker, it is even more problematic because of the vehicle’s weight and the amount of time they spend on the road. As a result, West Virginia only allows drivers to work up to 11 continuous hours in a 14-hour work week. Once 11 hours are reached within 14 hours, federal law requires that truckers take a mandatory break of 10 hours before they can legally drive again.

Additionally, a driver can work up to 77 hours within seven days in any work week. However, if a driver takes 2.5 days off, their work week will begin at 0 hours again. Failing to follow these laws will result in the driver being at least partially responsible for the damages and potentially the company if they were aware of the failures to follow the law.

Trucking Company

A trucking company may be responsible for any truck or driver they put on the road. They are accountable for hiring and training drivers and ensuring that all vehicles are properly maintained. For example, if a truck company lied and said that a vehicle was ready to get back on the road, the company can be liable for any damage caused by a malfunction.

Cargo Shipper Or Loader

Some trucking companies hire loaders to ensure that the truck is loaded correctly, or their employees will load the truck. Suppose someone fails to load the truck properly, and cargo shifting causes an accident. In that case, the cargo company may be jointly liable with the driver for any damages that results from the accident.

Truck Manufacturers

Sometimes a truck will fail as a result of a faulty component. This can be a tire blowout, brake failures, or even problems with steering systems. For example, suppose the steering system begins to fail because it is defective from the start. In that case, people can bring a product liability claim, and the truck manufacturer may be fully liable for damage caused by the incident.

Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney

If you or someone you know has a truck accident victim, it is essential to contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing filing deadlines. Truck accident cases can be highly complex because of the number of parties involved and the evidence involved. Contacting an attorney at the forefront can make it easier because the lawyer can start their investigation early. The attorneys at Salango Law, PLLC are highly experienced personal injury attorneys who will be able to protect your interests and perform a proper investigation into the truck accident. To contact one of our experienced attorneys, call us at (304) 342-0512 or reach out online.