Are trucking companies responsible for fleet vehicle collisions?

It is common for people to jump to the conclusion that the motorists involved in a crash are the ones to blame for the wreck.

However, there are often other parties that may have contributed to the cause(s) of a crash. For example, when one of the vehicles involved in an accident scenario is a large commercial truck, there could potentially be reason to file a claim against the company that employs the truck’s operator either in addition to or instead of filing a claim against the driver themselves.

When might a commercial transportation company be liable for a crash caused by one of its drivers?

When company policy is unsafe

There are many ways in which a transportation company might push its workers into unsafe behavior. For example, the company might schedule workers with very little wiggle room for delays, forcing them to drive for the maximum amount allowed under federal Hours of Service rules.

They may then offer bonuses or incentive pay for on-time deliveries or even penalize those that do not get their loads in on time. Drivers may either speed or may continue driving when they should have finished their shift for the day. Requiring that workers text at the wheel to respond to a supervisor would be another example of a policy that violates federal commercial vehicle safety rules and opens a business up to liability.

When vehicles don’t receive proper maintenance

Commercial transportation companies invest millions of dollars in their fleets. Individual semi-truck cabs can cost as much as a starter home, sometimes even more. These vehicles run for so many hours a day that they require frequent repairs and maintenance. Companies that cut corners on maintenance or that delay crucial repairs could end up liable if a crash occurs that relates to the vehicle’s poor condition.

When they keep unsafe drivers on the road

In recent years, there has been a shortage of commercial drivers that has led to companies making somewhat questionable hiring choices. If an organization has ignored issues with a driver or hired someone with a history of problematic behavior, those poor hiring decisions may put other people at risk.

Companies often incur liability for what their workers do while they are on the clock, and that reality absolutely applies to commercial transportation companies as well. The employer of a truck driver could provide insurance coverage after a crash or might be liable in civil court if someone files a lawsuit. Understanding who could be held responsible for a semi-truck collision can help accident victims to seek appropriate compensation in the wake of a crash with the assistance of an experienced legal professional.


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