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Tennessee Truck Accident Liability: Who Pays for Damages?

Who is liable for damages after a semi-truck accident in Tennessee?

Motor vehicle accidents that involve large commercial trucks are some of the deadliest types of accidents. If you were a victim of a truck accident in Tennessee, you may have severe and catastrophic injuries that require long-term medical care, and your car may have been damaged beyond repair.

It’s important that you are able to claim full compensation for all of your injuries and property damage after a truck accident. Before you can do this, your first step is to determine who is liable for your accident. These accidents usually involve several liable parties and you may be entitled to compensation from all of them.

What is liability?

Liability is a term that refers to being legally responsible for something. When someone causes an accident by reckless driving, they are liable for the accident. The liable party’s insurance company is then on the hook for damages—or sometimes the at-fault individual can be personally sued by victims of the accident and ordered to pay for the victims’ medical expenses, property damage and lost wages.

In the case of an accident that was caused by a truck driver who fell asleep at the wheel, you may be thinking that the truck driver is the liable party. While you’re right that the truck driver was ultimately responsible, there are also many other parties that might have legal blame under Tennessee negligence laws.

Who is liable in a truck accident?

Truck accident liability differs from regular car accident liability because the truck driver is an employee who is on the job. If a trucker causes an accident while working, the trucking company that hired them and owns the truck may also be liable.

A trucking company might be liable for a number of different reasons:

• The company put pressure on the truck driver to meet unrealistic deadlines.

• The company hired a truck driver with a past history of reckless driving accidents.

• The company failed to properly maintain the truck or inspect the truck for mechanical problems.

In addition to the trucking company, other parties that may be liable include:

• The truck manufacturer

• The owner of the truck’s cargo

• Mechanics who worked on the truck

• Local governments responsible for the roadways

The circumstances of every truck accident are different, so a lawyer would have to analyze your case to determine all of the liable parties. However, due to the nature of commercial truck driving, there is almost always more than 1 person whose actions in some way contributed.

For example, let’s say a truck driver runs a red light and causes an accident. The truck driver committed a traffic violation and is liable. However, a further investigation may reveal that the truck driver had been on the road for the past 10 hours without a break. Investigators may then determine that both the owner of the cargo and the trucker’s boss had put pressure on the driver to make an unreasonably fast delivery.

In some cases, a manufacturing error such as faulty brakes on a truck could be the cause of an accident. If the driver was following all of the federal trucking regulations, they may not be liable for an accident that was caused by a manufacturing error.

Sometimes, a multi-vehicle accident involving a truck is not the truck driver’s fault at all. If another passenger car driver on the road was driving recklessly before the accident happened, an investigation might reveal that the truck driver was not the liable party.

Are truck drivers responsible for damages?

Unless a truck accident was caused by something out of the driver’s control, the driver will be liable for damages. If a truck driver is an independent contractor who owns their own truck, it’s possible that they could be the only liable party. These situations aren’t as common, though; there is usually a company behind the driver that has some responsibility for the trucker’s actions.

Before you can recover compensation for damages, you must be able to prove that the truck driver acted negligently. An attorney may help you prove liability by presenting evidence from the police report and eyewitness testimony. An attorney might also show evidence of reckless behavior by analyzing driving logs that show that the truck driver wasn’t taking sufficient breaks.

An attorney who is experienced with Tennessee truck accident law, such as our team at Gilreath & Associates, can help you recover more compensation for your damages by thoroughly documenting the financial impact of the collision.

If you were involved in a truck accident that has left you with expensive injuries and lost wages, talk to our attorneys about filing a claim against all of the liable parties. Contact us today for your free consultation.


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