Some of the deadliest accidents on our nation’s highways occur when a truck that is sometimes carrying highly flammable or toxic hazmat loses control, collides with another vehicle or overturns. The sheer size of a large truck when compared to a passenger vehicle makes catastrophic damage more than likely in a collision.
Professional drivers are highly trained to be able to maneuver bulky 18-wheelers and other large vehicles, and to operate them with a special emphasis on safety when they are on the road. When an accident does occur, driver error can be a factor, but there may also be other causes such as equipment failure, cargo imbalance or poor maintenance that may point to other parties who may share responsibility.
Who else may be at fault besides the driver?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has strict safety standards that control the number of consecutive hours a driver may be on the road, how many rest breaks they must take and the amount of time they must be off duty.
Driver fatigue, which is common in the trucking industry, is a form of negligence that the prosecution would have to prove by gathering evidence through an investigation of driver logbooks, onboard recording devices or hotel receipts that would reveal violations of hours-of-service regulations or the number of hours driven in a week.
The hiring company may share liability if they did not allow enough travel or rest time between truck stops in the driver’s schedule, if they did not perform regular inspections on the vehicle, if the truck exceeded its weight limits, or if they did not properly train the driver. Documentation that would support a claim include driver qualification files, inspection reports and maintenance repair records.
Other third-party candidates who may also share liability include cargo loaders if they did not properly balance or secure the load, or equipment manufacturers in the event of a tire blowout, faulty brakes or mechanical errors.
Collecting damages in Mississippi
Mississippi follows the legal theory of comparative negligence, which will allow the injured party to pursue compensation even if they were partially responsible for the accident, with the amount recoverable proportional to the degree of their responsibility for causing the accident.
Third-party liability cases are complex and involved a great deal of investigation to identify all liable parties. Because truck accidents often result in severe injuries, high medical bills and long recovery, it is important to learn about all options before accepting an initial settlement offer.