The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports that the number of crashes involving large trucks are increasing each year. Many factors contribute to a truck accident, and the fault may not always be immediately apparent. For example, when a shipping company in Illinois hires a driver to haul freight over the road, the liability for a collision often rests on the operator of the vehicle. In any motor vehicle crash, there are a number of other parties who could share the responsibility or even be found solely accountable for any property or physical damages.
A shipping company has a duty to ensure safety
When a trucking company employs a driver, it must follow federally mandated guidelines for background checks and drug testing, as well as others. If an incompetent or disqualified driver is hired and allowed to operate one of the company’s vehicles, the employer becomes guilty of negligent hiring practices in the event of an accident.
Another instance of broker shipper liability may occur when an accident occurs due to driver fatigue. If there is evidence that companies required drivers to spend more hours behind the wheel each day than is legally allowed, they could also be held accountable for ensuing damages.
Other parties potentially responsible
If an accident is caused by a problem with cargo, the fault may lie with the party who loaded the truck. This includes improperly secured freight or an uneven distribution of weight. A loading company or dock employee could also be at fault if a driver is not informed of the nature of the shipment, especially in the case of hazardous materials, which require a special endorsement on the commercial driver’s license.
The trucking company is responsible for regular maintenance and vehicle inspections, and an operator is required to examine the truck components daily before beginning to drive. Even when these duties are fulfilled, a problem with the vehicle can cause an accident, such as a mistake made by a mechanic hired to inspect or repair the vehicle. In the event that a flaw in the vehicle’s production or design causes an accident, liability rests with the manufacturer.
The size and weight of a commercial vehicle can be devastating in a crash. In order to receive full compensation for damages, a victim may need to file a third-party lawsuit to ensure that any guilty party is held responsible. In complex cases like these, it is beneficial to speak with a personal injury attorney who is knowledgeable of the Illinois legal system.