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Martindalle Hubbel

Trucking Company Liability

Motor Vehicle Collision Lawyers Advocating for People in Syracuse and Beyond

Commercial truck accidents can be devastating, due to the size and weight of the truck. Most truck accident victims think of the truck driver as the only source of compensation in a lawsuit arising from their injuries. However, the truck driver may have insufficient liability coverage to truly compensate accident victims, particularly if there are multiple victims facing catastrophic injuries as a result of the accident. If you were injured in a truck accident, it is important to explore the possibility of trucking company liability. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, our Syracuse truck accident lawyers are dedicated to thoroughly investigating the causes of the collisions our clients have been injured in, identifying all potential defendants, and pursuing the greatest possible compensation for victims.

Trucking Regulations

Like truck drivers, trucking companies must abide by numerous federal and state regulations, which have some overlap. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has regulations related to how a truck traveling on interstate highways should be maintained and repaired, for example. The regulations also outline the tasks that a trucking company must complete if it wishes to hire or keep interstate truck drivers, such as administering drug and alcohol tests, conducting background checks, checking logbooks, and making sure that truck drivers abide by the hours of service rules. Unfortunately, there are trucking companies that put profits ahead of people, and that disregard these regulations. For example, they may give truck drivers deadlines that are too tight, or they may encourage drivers to violate the hours of service rules.

Trucking Company Liability

If you were injured in an accident with a large commercial vehicle, the trucking company may bear some responsibility for the collision if there was an employment relationship between the driver and the company. In some cases, the trucking company is only vicariously liable. This theory may apply if a truck accident is caused by a truck driver's negligent act or omission in the course and scope of employment. For example, if a truck driver making a delivery tries to beat a yellow light and winds up hitting someone in the intersection after the light has turned red, it may be possible to hold the trucking company vicariously liable for the injuries arising from the crash.

Trucking companies may be held directly liable if a truck needed maintenance or repair, and the company’s failure to ensure that this upkeep was completed led to a collision and injuries. There are situations in which a trucking company may skip a required maintenance check in order to preserve profits, or due to an oversight. If someone is injured in an accident involving an improperly maintained truck, the trucking company may be legally responsible for any resulting harm.

Trucking companies must abide by state and federal regulations, not only with regard to things like hours of service and the maintenance and repair of trucks, but also with regard to how they hire and supervise their truck drivers. Specifically, a trucking company can be held directly liable for negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent training. For instance, when a trucking company hires a truck driver, it is supposed to conduct a background check of the driver, among other things. A trucking company could be liable for negligent hiring if it hired a truck driver without conducting a background check that would have revealed numerous prior accidents, and that driver caused another accident involving injuries while working for that company. Also, it could be held liable for negligent hiring if it hired a truck driver after it saw that the driver had a record of DUIs, and drug or alcohol use contributed to your accident.

Suing for Negligence

If you seek to take legal action for negligence following a truck accident, you will need to be able to prove specific elements in support of your claim. In order to prevail in a negligence case, you must show: (1) the defendant or defendants owed you a duty of reasonable care, (2) breach of that duty, and (3) a causal link between the breach and your injuries. In the case of a truck accident, you would need to prove that either the truck driver or trucking company breached its duty to behave in a reasonable manner by either driving carelessly or failing to maintain the vehicle, for example, and that this breach caused the accident in which you were hurt. If you are able to prove these elements, available damages can include economic damages, which may encompass amounts for financial losses such as medical bills and lost wages, as well as noneconomic damages, which can include amounts for less tangible losses, such as pain and suffering.

Spoliation of Evidence

After an accident, some unscrupulous trucking companies destroy evidence. Under FMCSA regulations, they are only required to keep logbooks, for example, for six months after receiving them. Maintenance records for trucks in service need to be kept for at least 12 months. When a trucking company leases or sells a truck, the records are supposed to be kept for the remaining time left of the 12 months or six months from when the truck leaves the company's control. It is important for you to retain an attorney as soon as possible after an accident occurs so that a spoliation of evidence letter can be sent to the company, warning it that litigation is pending and that it should not destroy any relevant evidence.

Hire a Skillful Syracuse Attorney for Your Truck Accident Case

If you have been involved in a truck accident and suspect that there may be trucking company liability for your injuries, our law firm can help you recover damages from all of the parties responsible for the accident, including the trucking company. DeFrancisco & Falgiatano represents truck accident victims in Syracuse, Rochester, and throughout Upstate New York, including in areas such as Binghamton, Auburn, Elmira, Norwich, Cortland, Delhi, Herkimer, Watertown, Lowville, Oneida, Wampsville, Utica, Canandaigua, Oswego, Cooperstown, Ithaca, and Lyons. Call our attorneys at 315-479-9000 or contact us via our online form.

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