Knowing the players in an 18 wheeler accident case
18 wheeler collisions involve more than just the vehicle drivers
In most car accident cases, you have the parties directly involved in the collision and – on occasion – an employer involved in the case. The players and their relationships are usually straight forward, governed by the laws of agency and legal principles.
However, when it comes to accidents involving 18 wheelers, there are a lot more potential players and the relationships can be more difficult to understand. If you have been involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler, you need an attorney who is well versed in trucking regulations and knows all of the potential players.
18 wheeler drivers and their employers
Instead of only dealing with a driver, the driver’s employer may be at fault. Figuring out who the driver works for and the specific relationships is critical to understanding where responsibility lies for compliance with many of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) and its state equivalents.
Drivers can be employed as company drivers, but they can also be owner/operators who are leased on to a motor carrier either for a specific trip or for duration of time and either directly or through some third party broker. Relationships, responsibilities and liabilities may be different depending upon whether the driver is:
- Driving under dispatch with a loaded trailer
- Deadheading (driving with an empty trailer)
- Bob-tailing without a trailer
Issues of statutory employer are common and the issue of course and scope of employment can be more convoluted, which is why your 18 wheeler accident attorney needs to have extensive experience in the trucking industry.
Owner of the 18 wheeler truck
When it comes to 18 wheeler accidents, there are also various parties and relationships having to do with the equipment. Under the FMCSRs, a tractor and a trailer are separate commercial motor vehicles. In some states, ownership of a commercial motor vehicle alone may subject a party to some liability. In other states, if a tractor bears the logo of a motor common carrier, that motor common carrier may be held liable under a theory called “logo liability.” There may be leases and subleases that involve the equipment – the tractor, or the trailer, or both. Understanding these players and relationships is important in determining which party or parties may have responsibility for maintenance and inspection of commercial motor vehicles and the liability that may attach with that responsibly.
Parties related to truck’s cargo
Beyond the drivers, motor carriers and equipment owners and leases, there are a host of other players that may be involved with the truck’s cargo, including:
- Freight forwarders
Under certain circumstances, each of these players may have specific duties and liabilities. One of the central issues is whether a load is sealed or not as that determines, to a large degree, who is responsible for the securement of the load.
Third parties related to semi-truck’s safety
Finally, there are other entities that can become players in a commercial vehicle case. These include:
- Third-party maintenance and repair companies
- Third-party safety compliance companies
- Insurance companies
While most duties prescribed under the trucking safety regulations are non-delegable, these entities may have independent liability depending on the specific circumstances.
Finding an 18 wheeler accident attorney who knows the players
As you can see, the players and relationships in 18 wheeler collision cases are very different than the typical car crash case and are different than any other type of injury case. This is why you need an attorney with experience with lawsuits involving 18 wheelers and other commercial vehicles, not just a general personal injury lawyer.
Call 800-777-0028 or use our online contact form to discuss your case with one of our experienced 18 wheeler accident attorneys. There is no fee or obligation for your initial consultation. Contact our legal team today.