Truck accidents are some of the deadliest that occur on the roadways. Each year, thousands of individuals in the U.S. are killed and tens of thousands are injured in accidents with large trucks. And when a big rig truck that typically weighs in excess of 80,000 pounds when fully loaded collides with a regular passenger vehicle, occupants of the passenger vehicle are the ones who tend to sustain the most severe injuries.
Data published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) helps illustrate this point. The IIHS reports that in 2017, a total of 4,102 individuals were killed in large truck crashes. Of those killed, 17% were occupants of the big rig truck, and 68% were occupants of cars and other passenger vehicles that were involved in the crash. Another 14% were bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. The IIHS also reports that the number of people killed in large truck crashes in 2017 was 30% higher than the number killed and 2009, just eight years earlier.
Who do I Sue if I Was in a Truck Accident in Alabama?
Trucking accidents are far more complicated than most other types of personal injury cases. There are numerous laws and regulations that govern the industry and there are often multiple factors that contribute to an accident.
Some of the parties that could be held liable in an 18-wheeler accident include:
- The truck driver: Driver negligence plays a major role in a large number of truck accident cases. Some examples may include speeding, reckless driving, distracted driving, driving while drowsy, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The driver may also have violated the Federal Hours of Service Regulations, which restrict the number of hours they are allowed to be on the road.
- The trucking company: The company that employs the truck driver may share fault in the accident. Trucking companies often try to avoid responsibility by claiming that the driver is an independent contractor. This may or may not be the case, and the working relationship between the driver and the company needs to be closely examined to determine if the trucking company can be held liable. For example, the trucking company may be responsible if the driver displays the company placard with their logo inside the vehicle, even if the company claims to have an independent contractor relationship with the driver.
- The shipping company: The company that is shipping cargo could play a role in a trucking accident if they overloaded the truck (beyond its legally allowed weight limit) and/or loaded the truck unevenly. Overloaded or unevenly loaded trucks are more susceptible to rolling over or being flipped on their side when they encounter heavy winds and other types of inclement weather while traveling at higher speeds.
- The truck mechanic: Semi-trucks typically log thousands of miles over-the-road per month. For this reason, proper maintenance is absolutely critical to help ensure that the truck remains in safe driving condition. There are times, however, when the party responsible for servicing and maintaining the truck fails in this duty. This can cause a mechanical breakdown while on the road, putting the truck driver and those they share the road with in serious danger.
- The vehicle or vehicle part designer or manufacturer: If a vehicle or vehicle part defect plays a role in a trucking accident, it may be possible to hold the designer, manufacturer, or other parties in the supply chain partly responsible for the accident. Examples of product defects that can cause a vehicle accident include brake line failures, tire blowouts, steering system failures, and many others.
Filing a Truck Accident Injury Claim in Alabama
As mentioned earlier, trucking accident cases can be very complex because they are often caused by the convergence of multiple factors. Things are further complicated if the accident occurs in Alabama. This is one of the few states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured party can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at-fault for the underlying accident.
Defendants in a truck accident case will no doubt try to use Alabama’s defendant-friendly laws against you by claiming you were at least partially at fault. This is why it is extremely important to get an experienced personal injury lawyer involved as early as possible in the process, so you can preserve your legal right to compensation.
Call the Skilled Alabama Truck Accident Attorneys at Burns, Cunningham & Mackey
If you or someone close to you has been injured in a trucking accident, there are numerous parties that you may be able to sue for damages. In order to be successful with a personal injury claim, however, you need strong legal counsel in your corner. At Burns, Cunningham & Mackey, P.C., we have extensive experience and a successful track record with even the most complex accident injury cases, and we work closely with our clients, exploring every potential legal avenue toward securing full and fair compensation on their behalf.
Call our Mobile office today at (800) 574-4332 for a free consultation. You may also send us a message through our web contact form.