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Wrecked car after a collision with a heavy truck

Who Can be Held Liable in a Truck Accident?

Law Office of Joshua S. Reed
April 28, 2022

Motor vehicle accidents involving semi-trucks are often the most devastating. Most cars are no match against tons of glass and steel, even at slow speeds. The statistics are telling. Of the 174 crashes involving large trucks in Tennessee in 2021, there were 187 fatalities.

Although drivers of 18-wheelers usually bear at least some fault for a crash, they aren’t the only parties that may be liable. Holding everyone accountable for causing an accident takes work and experience in representing clients and their families injured or killed in semi-truck accidents.

At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we know how to investigate trucking accidents so our clients can hold everyone responsible accountable for their losses. We can help if you have been injured or a loved one incapacitated or killed in Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee, or in the Clinton, Blount, Anderson, Maryville, Union, or Oak Ridge counties. We will do most of the work so you can recover or grieve.

Who Can Be Liable in a
Tennessee Truck Accident?

Tennessee is a fault state for auto crashes. This simply means the parties who cause the accident by doing something they should not have done or failing to do something they needed to do should be held financially responsible for the damages incurred by their victims. In semi-truck accidents, we investigate five potential parties, each of which owes others on the roadway a duty of care:

  1. The truck driver is the obvious party since that person was behind the wheel. The driver not only has the obligation to be adequately trained, avoid distractions, observe the rules of the road, and be alert and rested enough while driving. The driver is also responsible for some inspections of the vehicle and trailer.

  2. The trucking company is invariably a liable party. Truck drivers are working in the agency of the company when operating their vehicles, which makes the employer or contracting agency responsible for the actions of employees and contractors. Companies are required to ensure drivers are adequately trained, pass medical exams, comply with federal laws regarding the number of hours of work and rest, and more. Plaintiffs who file personal injury or wrongful death claims against the driver file claims with the company’s insurer.

  3. If the investigation reveals that the truck, trailer, or a part on either of them failed, the truck or parts manufacturer may be liable for the crash.

  4. Likewise, those responsible for maintenance of the semi-tractor and the trailer may also be liable if they failed to adequately maintain them and that failure contributed to the crash.

  5. Those who loaded cargo on the trailer may be liable if shifting or improperly restrained cargo contributes to the crash.

Finally, you or your loved one can be held at least partially responsible for the 18-wheeler accident. Tennessee recognizes comparative fault which means any settlement you receive will be reduced by any percentage of fault assigned to you. If it is determined that you or your loved one was 10% at fault, your settlement would be reduced by 10%.

What Factors Determine Liability?

As your attorneys, we will pore over the records and other documents of the driver and every other party that may be involved. We examine factors such as driver fatigue, training, and medical conditions, along with speed, distractions, and other relevant issues.

The truck company’s insurer will work diligently to prove fault on your part. It too will look for evidence of distracted driving, your failure to obey the rules of the road, traveling in the truck driver’s blind spot, or following too closely behind it.

Road conditions may also play a role in liability in a truck accident. Weather conditions that result in wet or slick conditions, hills and curves, uneven pavement, road construction, barriers, signage, and lighting can all contribute to the circumstances of a crash. So can a failure by drivers to proceed with the necessary caution required with certain conditions.

What Should I Do If I or a Loved
One was in a Truck Accident?

If you have been injured in a semi-truck accident, you should first seek medical attention if you haven’t already. Even if you don’t think or aren’t sure you were injured, you should be examined by a physician. Some injuries are masked by adrenaline and others may not be apparent for days, weeks, or even months.

You also need to contact a personal injury attorney like the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed. A thorough investigation includes inspections of the semi-tractor, trailer, and the crash scene, all of which are time-sensitive. We need to take immediate action to preserve any and all relevant evidence.

If your loved one’s injuries make them incapable of filing a personal injury claim on their own, an appropriate power of attorney might provide the standing necessary for someone else to pursue a claim on their behalf. If there is no such power of attorney, we will help you obtain the legal authority to pursue a claim in their stead.

If your loved one could have filed a personal injury claim had they lived, certain people may pursue a wrongful death claim against the liable parties. The decedent’s surviving spouse has precedence.

If there is no surviving spouse, the decedent’s child or next of kin, followed by parents, followed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate may file a claim or lawsuit. It is wise to retain the services of wrongful death attorneys like us to help you navigate the process.

Legal Advocacy You Can Trust

The injuries victims sustain in a semi-truck accident are usually serious, catastrophic, or deadly. The force with which the trucking company, its insurance company, and any other liable party will use to deny or devalue claims is equally powerful. Company insurance policies carry extremely high limits due to the often catastrophic nature of accidents involving their vehicles. With significant policy limits at stake, companies and insurers will do everything they can to avoid paying settlements.

You need to fight back with equal power. At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, we have been successfully battling trucking companies and their insurers for years. Our clients and their families depend on us. That’s why we won’t back down.

If you have been injured in a trucking accident or if your loved one has been incapacitated or killed, call the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed now to schedule a free consultation. We serve those in Knoxville or Farragut, Tennessee, or in the Clinton, Blount, Anderson, Maryville, Union, or Oak Ridge counties.