Sharing a new article from our friends Chappell, Smith and Arden in South Carolina about truck accidents. For more information, please visit

One of the complexities in litigating a truck accident is identifying which party holds responsibility for causing the crash. Beyond the truck driver and any other motorists involved in the wreck, other parties may also be held liable. Due to the complex nature of these types of accidents, it is wise to seek the assistance of a skilled Columbia truck accident lawyer to navigate the facts of the case.

If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, it is vital for your legal representative to investigate every aspect of the crash. This includes gathering evidence to show whether the truck driver, the trucking company, or another party violated federal or state safety guidelines, as well as determining how much accountability each entity holds.

Determining Responsibility

Because several individuals and entities may be involved in a truck accident, these cases are best handled by an experienced truck accident lawyer who understands the many laws governing the shipping and transportation industry. This is almost always necessary to ensure a fair and favorable outcome for the victim. The truck driver, truck owner, individual or company who leased the truck, and the manufacturer of the vehicle may be accountable for part of the accident. Oftentimes, they may argue amongst themselves about who is responsible for the crash, while injured victims continue to suffer the pain and financial burden of their injuries.

Trucking Company Liability

The trucking company must assume responsibility when an operator using their truck causes a wreck, even if another owner or operator appears on the lease. The theory of liability that targets the company as at-fault is called “respondeat superior,” which stipulates that the company must be accountable for the crash as the overseer of the driver. Another reason for culpability is that they are generally more financially sound than an individual driver, and have insurance coverage to bear the brunt of the financial costs associated with the wreck.

The only exception to the respondeat superior rule is when the employee intentionally caused the accident while operating the vehicle or used the truck for purposes outside their work assignments. If the driver who caused the accident was an independent contractor, the company is generally not liable.

Common Causes of Truck Accidents

The trucking industry is known for placing its drivers under enormous pressure to make their deliveries on time, every time. Unfortunately, this high-stress culture can incentivize some workers to take short-cuts that may impact safety. Truck drivers are notorious for working long hours, often driving through the night to avoid traffic and get to their destinations faster. This can lead to dangerous driving behaviors such as drowsy driving, speeding, and aggressive maneuvers such as making unsafe lane changes.

Improper loading is another common cause of wrecks. Loads that are not secured properly can spill onto the roadway, creating dangerous obstacles for other vehicles. Cargo must also be carefully balanced to ensure even weight distribution. Failure to follow safety protocol when loading can cause the cargo to shift during transport, which can lead to a trailer tip-over. Likewise, overloading of cargo is illegal as it can make it harder for the truck to stop in time to avoid a crash, thus increasing the likelihood of a jackknifed trailer.

Finally, the trucks themselves can be a problem if not carefully maintained and inspected. Worn brakes and tires and malfunctioning headlights and taillights are common violations cited by safety inspectors. Carriers are required to perform routine maintenance and drivers must inspect their vehicles before every trip to ensure its safety.

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Steve Altmann has been assisting consumers and business owners with bankruptcy matters for more than 27 years. 

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