While navigating Massachusetts’s roads, you encounter a sudden oil leak caused by a commercial truck. If you get into an accident because of a dangerous substance like oil, you may wonder whether you have a legal case and against whom. Jason Stone Injury Lawyers has the answers and the exemplary legal representation you deserve after suffering injuries because of another’s negligence.
Common At-Fault Parties in Truck Accidents
To better determine who bears responsibility for injuries and car damage sustained after a truck oil leak, it makes sense to learn common at-fault parties in commercial truck accidents. Truck accidents often involve several parties who could bear legal responsibility for victims’ injuries, which makes truck collisions more complicated than standard motor vehicle accidents.
The Truck Driver
When truck drivers do not follow the posted speed limit, drive distracted or do not get sufficient sleep, they could cause collisions. If the driver did not properly inspect the cargo or double-check the load’s straps, she or he could become the responsible party if oil leaks and causes an accident. When cargo shifts or poor maintenance triggers a leak, it could be the driver’s fault. Even if the truck operator bears negligence for your harm, if she or he does not have sufficient insurance to cover medical bills and other damages, your legal team could recommend looking for other responsible parties, such as the cargo loader.
The Cargo Shipper
Carriers contracted to ship cargo for other companies may never see a sealed shipment during transportation. If an individual or entity fails to secure or load cargo properly and an accident happens, that person or company could become the liable party. For instance, say a loader used the wrong straps to tie oil barrels down, overloaded the trailer with oil or did not use enough straps for the barrels. If a spill happens, it could be the loader’s fault.
The Trucking Company
Sometimes, trucking companies try to pass the blame onto the driver by saying the person works as an independent contractor rather than a traditional employee. Here, a few questions may help you determine the employer’s liability:
- Does the driver have the option to enter contracts with other trucking companies?
- How much influence does the company have over the truck operator?
- Does the driver set her or his own routes and hours?
- How does the company pay the driver?
- May the driver turn down a load?
- Does the driver secure her or his own liability and workers’ compensation insurance?
Usually, classifying an operator as an independent contractor does not remove the blame from the employer. Under federal law, companies with trucking permits bear responsibility for all oil leaks and other accidents involving commercial vehicles that bear their name or placard on the vehicle. It makes no difference whether the driver operates as an employee or independent contractor.
The Local Government
Perhaps the oil leaked because of a poor road design, puddled rainwater or pavement in disrepair. Local governments and their hired contractors must keep roads in good condition for vehicles to drive on them safely. When agencies neglect those duties and accidents happen, victims could have a liability case against the government.
The Truck and Parts Manufacturer
A defective truck part could be why the oil leak and your resulting accident happened. If an investigation shows the vehicle had a defective system or part, the truck distributor or manufacturer could become the responsible party. If the brakes or steering failed, a tire blew out or if any other part of the truck failed, you could owe your harm to poor maintenance.
Common Reasons for Cargo Spills in Truck Accidents
Once you know which individuals and entities could become at-fault parties in your personal injury case, it makes sense to understand common reasons cargo spills happen. That way, you and your legal advocate may better pinpoint the responsible party. Reasons include:
- Driver fatigue
- Road construction debris and other objects in the road
- Unexpected braking in front of the truck
- Overburdened commercial vehicles
- Rapid turns
- Too-large loads on too-small trucks
- Poorly maintained streets
- Inclement weather
Thoroughly documenting the accident site and taking several pictures of the scene could help you identify the reason the incident happened and the responsible party.
Steps To Take After a Truck Accident
After a truck accident caused by an oil leak, you must take specific steps to protect your right to compensation and identify the at-fault party. First, check yourself and your passengers for injuries before checking other parties involved in the collision. Summon the paramedics for anyone who needs medical attention and call the police to the scene. Once law enforcement makes a report, request a copy for your records, making sure you have the responding officer’s contact information and badge number. Take images of the accident scene, including damage to all vehicles, fluids leaking from vehicles, your injuries, traffic signals and signs, the weather and your vehicle’s interior. Get the truck driver’s name, contact information, insurance details, employer name and commercial driver’s license information. If anyone witnessed the incident, ask for a statement and their contact information. Even if you feel fine after a minor truck accident, which often causes major injuries, let a physician examine you. Delayed symptoms and injuries could take several days or weeks to appear. If you delay medical attention, you could give insurance providers and the defendant’s legal team the impression that the accident did not harm you. If that happens, you may experience setbacks while trying to secure full and fair compensation.
Because truck accidents could involve multiple at-fault parties, victims may go to additional lengths to recover solid evidence. For example, checking the truck’s event data recorder, global positioning system, inclinometer, onboard computer and electronic logging device gives insight into a commercial vehicle’s speed, brake usage, route and hours of service. According to federal and state law, certified truck inspectors must examine all commercial trucks involved in accidents before authorities remove the vehicles from the accident scene. The report notes the condition of the truck’s most essential mechanical parts. This information does not appear on standard post-accident police reports. Instead, parties must request a copy of the document from the proper government agency. Commercial truck accident victims can also look over the truck operator’s driving log for evidence. The log helps judges and juries determine if the truck driver followed the latest state and federal rest break regulations.
Damages in Truck Accidents
Once you know why a truck accident happened and which party caused your harm, you may wonder about your case’s worth. Personal injuries often qualify victims to economic damages, which include rehabilitation and medical costs, loss of earning capacity and loss of earnings. Examples of non-economic damages you could qualify for include pain and suffering, disfigurement, emotional distress and loss of enjoyment of life. When truck accident defendants operate in bad faith or display especially reckless actions, the victim may qualify for punitive damages. Injury severity, medical bills and quality of evidence are some factors that affect how much you may receive in damages.
Talk With a Truck Accident Lawyer Today
No matter who bears the blame for a truck accident triggered by an oil leak, you have legal rights to protect. To see if you have a legal case, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced legal representatives. Call Jason Stone Injury Lawyers at 800-577-5188 today. There’s No Obligation, Just Information (R).