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Liability in truck accidents

On Behalf of | Nov 19, 2021 | Car Accidents

The most horrific auto accidents on Arkansas highways are easily those that involve commercial trucks. No standard vehicle is a physical match for a tractor-trailer, and the potential for jackknifing makes many scenarios even worse when a commercial vehicle goes out of control. Potential liability can be extensive. However, just because a truck is involved does not always mean the truck operator is largely at fault.

Truck driver liability

All accidents are not equal when it comes to trucks. Some drivers are owner-operators and others are employees of a transport company and drive its rolling stock. Employed truck drivers are generally protected by the employing shipping company, and their insurance requirements are much higher than a standard driver in Arkansas. This means that whole damages may be available based on the percentage of comparative negligence the court assigns if the case goes to court. This potential assignment also impacts any settlement that is reached to avoid motor vehicle accidents going to actual trial. Owner-operators will typically have initial liability, and their insurance coverage will also be a compensation factor based on their level of comparative negligence.

Vicarious liability

Vicarious liability is the term applied when a shipping company or contractor has contributed to causing a truck accident. Employers often want truck drivers to skirt the rules of the road, including rig inspection, and many times drivers are instructed to drive close or beyond the established DOT hours restriction. Driver fatigue is common in car accidents involving trucks. Shipment contractors who fail to load cargo properly could also be held liable as well when evidence can be presented in court regarding loading improprieties.

The real issue with truck accidents is that they often involve multiple vehicles, and drivers of standard vehicles are also assessed for contribution to causation and resulting liability. The problem is that there may not be nearly as much insurance coverage for injured claimant compensation when other drivers are largely at fault.