The number of truck accidents in the US has increased over the last 20 years by approximately 20%. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that there were 273,000 truck accidents reported by the police in 2011 (the latest available on the site), of which 3,568 had 3,757 fatalities. Although this represents just 1.3% of the total number of adverse events, this is still a big number.
That is not even considering the 88,000 people who were injured, and truck accident injuries tend to be serious. According to the website of the Williams Kherkher Firm, this is enough reason to hold trucking companies and drivers to a higher standard of behavior.
Considering that federal law governs the trucking industry, specifically in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 49, it is no wonder that trucking owners would want to dodge liability when it comes to trucking accidents. It is no picnic to get into trouble with the federal government, especially if there is a crime involved such as drunk driving or driving under the influence of a controlled substance.
In truck accident cases, the ones who may have some part to play in terms of responsibility aside from the driver include the truck owner, the leaseholder (if any), the shipper, and the truck or parts manufacturers. Liability will depend on the circumstances and cause of the accident, which in turn will involve their respective insurance companies. Mostly, though, liability is confined to the driver and the truck company.
The truck company tries to dodge liability in truck accidents by claiming the driver is an independent contractor and/or leases the truck from a third party to avoid ownership duties of inspections, maintenance, and repair of the vehicle. However, the law states that as long as the trucking company owns the permit to operate the truck, it is co-liable for any negligent trucking accident.
If you have been seriously injured in a trucking accident, there is a good chance that you can recover damages from the driver and the trucking company. Consult with a personal injury lawyer in your area to get started with the process.