When a commercial truck and a passenger vehicle collide, the occupants of the smaller vehicle might suffer serious, even deadly injuries. Due to the severity of these injuries, the recoverable damages in these cases are often substantial. However, there could be multiple parties liable for a semi-truck crash and sorting out who is responsible can be challenging.

To ensure you are fairly compensated after an 18-wheeler collision, you should strongly consider working with an experienced attorney in the area. A Maryland Heights truck accidents lawyer could help you effectively recover the compensation you deserve.

Federal Regulations of 18-Wheelers

Like any driver on the road, truck drivers must obey speed limits and follow all other vehicle and traffic laws. In addition, the federal government has established a comprehensive set of rules governing tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks.

The federal rules cover everything from the pre-employment screening of truckers to their shift length while driving to the contents of the logbooks they must maintain. Federal law also establishes service schedules for trucks and requires regular maintenance and inspection of the vehicles.

These laws are critical for establishing liability in truck accident cases. If an injured person’s local attorney can find proof that the trucker or their employer violated any of these laws, resulting in a crash, the violation could be evidence of negligence.

Who is Liable for a Semi-Truck Crash?

Truck wreck cases are complicated because there might be several responsible parties. While the most common liable parties are the trucker and their employer, depending on the specific circumstances, there could be other defendants in a case.

If a failure of the truck’s equipment contributed to the accident, liability could rest with the truck owner, maintenance company, or manufacturer. If load shift caused the trucker to lose control of the vehicle, the loading company could have responsibility. If poor road maintenance or faulty signage were factors in the accident, the local government responsible for the road where the accident happened might be liable.

Sometimes an injured plaintiff also bears some responsibility. Under Missouri Revised Statutes §537.765, a negligent plaintiff could still collect damages from other negligent parties, however a judge will reduce their recoverable damages by a percentage equal to the their portion of responsibility.

Establishing Negligence in a Big Rig Wreck Case

Before an injured party can recover damages for a semi accident, they must first prove the truck driver was negligent with help from a Maryland Heights attorney. A plaintiff demonstrates negligence by showing that the:

  • Defendant owed the plaintiff a duty
  • Defendant breached the duty
  • Breach caused the accident
  • Accident caused the plaintiff to suffer actual harm.

The duty of care owed to a plaintiff varies for different liable parties. For instance, drivers have a duty to obey the law, employers must be responsible in their employment practices, manufacturers must ensure their products are safe, and governments must keep the roadways free from hazards. Failure to do any of these actions is a breach of duty.

To meet the legal negligence standard, the defendant’s breach must be a direct cause of the accident. Direct causation is sometimes murky, and this might pose a challenge to a plaintiff’s claim. Often experts must provide testimony showing that a defendant’s failure led directly to an accident. If the plaintiff can show causation, they also must demonstrate that they suffered actual losses as a result of the accident.

Get in Touch with a Maryland Heights Truck Accident Attorney

Civil cases involving commercial vehicles are often complicated, as they can involve multiple defendants, legal nuances, and insurance coverages. Accordingly, it is often in a plaintiff’s best interests to work with a well-practiced attorney to ensure they are putting together a strong claim for damages.

If you or a loved one were hurt by a negligent truck driver, contact a skillful Maryland Heights truck accident lawyer for help seeking fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries. We look forward to speaking with you.