When you are injured in a motor vehicle accident with another passenger vehicle, identifying the defendant is easy: it is the driver of the car.
When you are injured in an accident with a semi-truck or commercial vehicle, the defendant is not as easily picked out of the crowd. There are numerous parties involved in a trucking accident case, and while you might suspect the driver, do not forget you have other options for defendants as well.
Which Parties Can You Name in an Atlanta Trucking Accident Lawsuit?
Typically, a trucking accident case has more than one party. Rarely, do you see an example where a single defendant is named because commercial companies have networks of individuals and other businesses working together to complete a single trip. This fact increases the list of potential defendants.
Of course, every case is different. Only an experienced attorney can genuinely determine which parties you could hold liable for your injuries in your specific case.
The Truck Driver
The most obvious source of liability would be the driver of the semi-truck itself. In most cases, the injury claim will always name a truck driver. However, there are instances where the driver is left off of the list of defendants. This typically happens when the case involves a long chain of parties and the driver was not associated with those parties’ wrongdoings.
Some instances where a driver could be named in a lawsuit include:
- If they were driving under the influence
- If the driver was drowsy or distracted at the time
- If the driver was aware of the negligence or contributed to the negligence that caused your accident
The Broker of the Freight and Trucking Company
Sometimes a shipper uses a broker to hire trucking companies to transport their cargo. The broker is responsible for ensuring that all trucking companies they recommend are equipped, safe, and have qualified drivers to carry the cargo.
If that broker does not use an extensive screening process, then they may be held liable if an accident occurs.
For example, if the broker hires a company that has drivers with suspended commercial licenses, and a driver from that company causes an accident, the broker would be liable because they failed to adequately screen the trucking company.
The Owner of the Commercial Vehicle
Sometimes the driver of the semi-truck is not the owner of the truck. Any owner of commercial trucks is required to ensure that their trucks receive proper maintenance, stay in good repair, and that all safety components work appropriately before allowing that commercial vehicle on the road.
The company’s name on the trailer is not typically the company that owns the semi-truck. Instead, you would look at the title and license information on the semi-truck itself. Trailers are owned by one company that rents or leases time from the owners of the actual truck.
Finding the owner of the semi-truck is a complicated process. It often requires an investigator to follow the paper trail to determine which company owns the truck – and who leased it for cargo hauling.
Employer of the Truck Driver
Sometimes the employer of the driver is the owner of the semi-truck, while other times the semi-truck is leased. Regardless, the driver’s employer may be named as a defendant if they failed to screen or train their operators. For example, a company that allows a driver with a suspended license to operate could be liable.
Some companies hire independent contractors so that they can avoid vicarious liability in trucking accident cases, which makes the process of finding the driver’s employer that much more complicated.
Maintenance and Repair Service Companies
Typically, a third party is contracted to handle all service, repairs, and maintenance of commercial vehicles. If there is a mechanical malfunction that causes the truck to crash, then that company may be held liable for the faulty component.
For example, say that a trucking accident was caused by malfunctioning brakes, which the repair company should have caught during routine maintenance. The fact that they did not uncover this mechanical problem certainly indicates that they did not adequately inspect the vehicle.
Truck Manufacturer or Manufacturer of Truck Components
If a defective component causes the accident, then the truck’s manufacturer or the company responsible for manufacturing that element could be named as a defendant. Also, the wholesaler that sells that part or the retailer who sold the semi-truck to the company could be named.
Injured in a Trucking Accident? Speak with an Attorney
As you can see, the list of possible defendants is quite extensive. Rarely would all these parties be named, but a handful could be held liable.
Determining liability in these types of cases is not easy, which is why you need a trucking accident attorney by your side.
The team at Van Sant Law, can help identify potential defendants, gather evidence, and aggressively seek compensation on your behalf. Schedule a free case evaluation today at 404-991-5950 or request more information online.