Being in an accident with a large truck is very different than being in an accident with another car. Trucks are much more dangerous.
- Trucks are bigger than cars and have higher ground clearance (cars can easily slide under a truck in an accident)
- Trucks can weigh as much as 30 times as much as a standard passenger car
- Trucks require 40% more stopping distance than cars
- Trucks are more difficult to operate and handle than cars
- Trucks cause more damage and fatalities than cars: in all two-vehicle accidents involving a car and a truck, 96% of the fatalities were occupants in the car
There are many aspects to truck accident cases that are unique from car accident cases.
Additionally, consider how significantly the trucking industry has grown and the incredible number of trucks that are on the road:
- In 1980, there were approximately 20,000 licensed carriers
- In 1990 there were more than 40,000 licensed carriers
- In 1978, the American Trucking Association (ATA) had less than 19,000 members
- In 2004, the ATA had more than doubled to 38,000 members
- By 2017, there were more than 500,000 motor carrier companies in the United States
- By 2019, there were more than 700,000 motor carrier companies in the United States
- There are close to 16 million trucks on the roads in the United States.
With this many trucks on the road causing so many injuries and fatalities, it is important to have an experienced truck accident lawyer who can represent you if you have been in an accident involving a truck.
However, not every attorney who handles car accident cases has the expertise to bring a cause of action for a truck accident. If you or your loved ones are involved in a truck accident, you need an attorney who specializes in truck accident litigation. Our truck accident lawyers are experienced in truck accident cases and understand all the unique aspects of truck accidents that are critical for you to recover for your injuries.
Why Truck Accidents Require Experienced Attorneys
Because trucks and tractor trailers (“18-wheelers”) are bigger, heavier, more difficult to drive, and more dangerous on the road than cars, the truck-driving industry remains heavily regulated. The truck industry is governed, in part, by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR). These include rules that the industry must follow to reduce accidents and fatalities on the road. If you or a loved one are in a collision with a truck, you need an attorney who knows and understands these regulations.
Who May Be Held Liable in a Truck Accident?
When you are in a collision with another car, the other driver will be at fault if they were negligent. Likewise, in a truck accident, the truck driver could have been negligent and, therefore, can be someone you name as a defendant if you have been injured. However, in a truck accident, there may be any number of other persons or entities who contributed to the cause of the accident who may be held responsible for your damages. Therefore, you may be able to recover from the:
- Trucking company
- Truck manufacturer
- Trailer manufacturer
- Safety inspector
- Loading company
- Insurance companies
Each of these may play a part in the process of putting a truck on the road. If any one of these participants in the industry did not follow the requirements for an individual truck to be safe on the road, they may be liable for your injuries. At Foster Wallace, we know how to investigate all of the potential defendants in a truck accident case and we will hold responsible each negligent party that contributed to your injuries.
How Can There Be More Than One Defendant in a Truck Accident Case?
Under Missouri law, each party to an accident is responsible for whatever percentage of fault they contributed to the cause of the accident. This is called “comparative fault.”
In your truck accident case, it is possible for any of the parties listed above to have contributed to the cause of your accident. For example:
- The truck driver. The truck driver could have been negligent in operating the vehicle or failing to adhere to the federal restrictions on “hours of service.”
- The trucking company. If you can show that the trucking company who hired the driver in your accident failed to follow the federal requirements, the company could be liable. This could occur when the company:
- Fails to perform a proper background check on the driver (negligent hiring)
- Fails to properly train the driver
- Fails to properly supervise the driver
- Allows the driver to work too many hours in a row
- The truck manufacturer. It is possible that the driver lost control of the vehicle because of a malfunction in one of the parts in the engine. If so, the truck manufacturer could be liable.
- The trailer manufacturer. If the manufacturer of the trailer failed to design or build the trailer properly to sustain its load and this is shown to have been a cause of your accident, the trailer manufacturer may be liable.
- Safety inspector. If the motor carrier company negligently failed to properly inspect the truck or its load and this was a cause of your accident, you could recover damages.
- Dispatcher. If a dispatcher ignored the federal requirements for maximum road hours per driver and the driver fell asleep at the wheel due to fatigue, the dispatcher could be liable.
- Loading company. If the company that loaded the truck did so negligently and the disproportionate weight of the truck caused the accident, the loading company may be liable.
- Insurance company. Each of these parties are likely to be covered by liability insurance, as required by federal regulations, so you will likely name each insurance company as a defendant.
Have You Been Injured in a Kansas City Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Kansas City truck accident you should speak with an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.249.2101 to schedule your free consultation.