Commercial truck accidents
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Who Can Be Held Liable after a Commercial Truck Accident?

Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran

One of the first things you need after involvement in commercial truck accidents is a good truck accident lawyer. The nuances of liability law require an attorney with experience and professional acumen if you want the best possible result and highest reasonable compensation.

Drivers and passengers in a car have a much higher likelihood of injury or even death when hit by a commercial truck.

Courts may hold drivers, the truck company, the truck or trailer manufacturer, or others such as a receiver or roadway maintenance firm liable depending on circumstances.


Driver negligence most often causes commercial truck accidents. Drivers may:

  • Violate Traffic Laws.
  • Get Distracted.
  • Drive Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs.
  • Drive while Fatigued
  • Violate Federal Commercial Driving Regulations

Driver Employer

Your lawyer may want to use a legal principle called vicarious liability which passes on the driver’s negligence to the employer.

The employer may also be negligent for other reasons, including:

  • Failure to Perform Routine Drug Tests.
  • Permitting the Driver to Work beyond Federally-Mandated Maximum Work Hours.
  • Failure to Conduct an Appropriate Background Check.
  • Failure to Provide Training on Handling a Commercial Vehicle.
  • Lack of Vehicle Maintenance.

Manufacturer Liability

Product defects can also cause truck accidents and be deemed liable in the event of a crash. If an attorney can prove a defective truck part or design caused the accident, the court and jury may find the manufacturer liable.

Some possible defective parts include:

  • Truck and Trailer Brakes.
  • Axles.
  • Tires.
  • Steering Columns.
  • Transmissions.


When a truck driver picks up his cargo, the product warehouse employees may improperly load the trailer. The load may shift, causing the trailer to become unbalanced, resulting in the driver losing control.

The shipper may not take the appropriate precautions when loading the truck, resulting in a worker, the driver, bystander, or someone in another vehicle getting hurt.


Maintenance contract companies could also assume some liability in the event of an accident.

Improper repairs, for example, or mistakes made while adjusting the brakes or replacing tires, could ultimately result in injury or property damage.

Maintenance records may be out of date or even falsified, resulting in liability for the people or company responsible.

Roadway Maintenance

Roadway Maintenance

Poor roadway maintenance could also cause an accident and the company or entity responsible held liable by the court. This may include the state, a vendor employed by the state, or local government.

Third Party Vendors

Vendors responsible for things like drug tests, employee background checks, and other activities related to commercial trucking may also be liable if the duties the vendor was contracted to perform were done incorrectly.

Multiple Parties

More than one entity may be held liable for an accident. There could be a combination of factors, all related to different companies or persons, that contributed to the accident.

Proving Liability

Proving liability in a trucking accident requires a competent, experienced law firm that knows what records to obtain and how to get them. Different data may, upon review, help determine who may be responsible.

For example, all commercial trucks have a “black box” that records data such as speed, stops, and other pertinent data. Accessing this box, and knowing how to interpret the information, can make a difference in a positive or negative outcome of your case.

Sometimes forensic accident investigators can provide critical information to prove liability.

Final Thoughts

If you have been injured in a truck accident, don’t settle for less than the best. At the law firm of Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C., we are prepared to help you resolve your claim early or take it to trial. We have the experience and legal knowledge to help win your case. Our goal is to get you the best settlement possible. Call us at 866-MICH-LAW for a free initial consultation. We never charge a fee unless we win your case.

Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.

Hannah Johnson has her Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs with a specialization in civic engagement. Her career has focused on labor-related research, including unions, workers' compensation, and contract law. She is now broadening her career to include research and policy analysis in East Asia, specifically in countries like South Korea and Japan where the aging population is creating a new frontier in economic trends and public policy innovation.



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