Trucking accident victims can file lawsuits against truck drivers and their employers (the defendants) for a variety of reasons. As the plaintiff, or party bringing the suit, these alleged victims will have to assert one or more claims against the trucking defendants. Some of these claims may include:
- Driver negligence: The driver may cause an accident by driving recklessly or violating a traffic law (e.g. speeding, running a red light). They may also have violated federal trucking regulations put forth by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) by driving too many hours without a break, overloading the truck, or failing to properly inspect their truck before driving.
- Vicariously liability: If the driver was operating the truck while within the course and scope of his employment, his employer can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of the driver, as an employee of the trucking company.
- Negligent hiring, training, or supervision: Employers may also act negligently by failing to properly investigate a driver’s background before hiring them or failing to offer adequate training needed to operate a commercial truck.
- Negligent maintenance: Trucking companies are responsible for properly servicing the trucks they own and conducting regular inspections. Manufacturers may also be responsible for any faulty equipment in the truck.
Common defenses for trucking companies
If a case has been filed against a trucking company and/or one of its employees, there are many potential ways to defend against these claims and limit the amount of damages they have to pay out. Some of these trucking and transportation liability defenses include:
- Comparative fault: If the plaintiff was partially responsible for the accident and their own injuries, in New York, the damages they recover will be reduced based on the percentage of fault assigned to them by the jury.
- Pre-existing conditions: Many people try to allege that every single medical condition or injury they have was related to the trucking accident. However, this is not always the case, as many people’s so-called ‘accident-related injuries’ were in fact related to a pre-existing condition.
- Fault of another vehicle: Many accidents involve more than two vehicles. A truck driver may allege that their actions were the result of another driver’s negligence. For example, if another vehicle stopped suddenly in the road, the truck driver may have had no choice but to swerve into another lane.
- Poor road conditions: Abnormally slick roads, potholes, and other poor road conditions may have contributed to the accident, reducing the fault of the trucking company and driver.
Defending against a truck accident claim may require the help of an experienced attorney. An attorney can help build a case in your favor and protect you against the claims brought against you.