Truck accidents often cause severe injuries and catastrophic property damage. Although truck drivers and trucking companies may be responsible for a collision, other parties could also be liable: Brokers, shippers and loaders are examples. Whoever caused the crash, if you sustained injuries in a truck accident, you may deserve financial compensation.
Getting to the bottom of who is responsible for paying compensation in truck accidents is complex and requires a thorough investigation. Our Wilmington truck accident lawyers at Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys explain how we can help prove truck broker liability and maximize your compensation.
What Is Truck Broker Liability?
To understand truck broker liability, you need to learn what truck brokers are. In the trucking industry, one freight shipment typically involves many people or companies:
- Shipper: the organization providing the goods to ship, whether a manufacturer, wholesaler or other type of entity
- Loader: the person or company physically loading the freight onto the truck
- Broker: a third-party company that acts as a middleman, connecting shippers with trucking companies or independent owner-operators to carry their freight
Each party in the shipping process has specific responsibilities to ensure that freight arrives safely at its destination. If any party fails to meet these responsibilities and that failure contributes to causing a truck accident, those injured may be able to seek damages from them.
Truck broker responsibilities include:
- Checking driver and company safety records
- Ensuring that motor carriers have sufficient, valid insurance coverage that includes cargo coverage and commercial auto policies
- Verifying that a truck is in good condition and checking for vehicle maintenance violations
- Investigating a driver’s traffic violation history, hours of service violations, and alcohol or controlled substance violations
The broker may guarantee a load’s delivery; the truck broker’s liability increases in these cases. Your attorney may seek compensation from a truck broker by arguing that:
- The broker knowingly or negligently hired an unsafe or incompetent motor carrier.
- The high level of the broker’s control over the trucker makes the broker vicariously liable for the driver’s actions.
If a truck broker is partially responsible for causing your accident, Horton & Mendez will hold them accountable.
Do Truck Brokers Have Insurance?
When trucks cause accidents, the financial toll on those injured is often extreme. The damages resulting from one person’s injuries can easily surpass $1 million.
Truck broker liability insurance coverage limits typically range from $750,000 to $5 million. However, insurance companies don’t like paying claims. To simplify your claims process and ensure that every at-fault party pays the compensation you deserve, hire an experienced truck accident lawyer from Horton & Mendez.
Can Shippers Be Held Liable?
Shipper responsibilities are similar to those of truck brokers and include:
- Verifying the driver’s and trucking company’s licenses, valid insurance coverage and safety records
- Ensuring that freight is loaded and secured properly
- Checking driver records for hours of service, alcohol and drug violations
- Validating driver fitness
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has regulations to ensure that shippers don’t set unreasonably short shipping deadlines or overload trucks. Shippers may be liable for truck accidents if they don’t meet their obligations. Shippers also have high liability insurance coverage limits.
What Other Parties Could Share Responsibility for a Truck Accident?
In typical passenger auto accidents, the drivers are the only parties responsible. In truck accidents, there are several potentially liable parties in addition to truck brokers and shippers:
- Drivers can cause accidents because of negligence or reckless behavior. They must follow traffic laws and adhere to trucking industry regulations. Drivers are also responsible for having their tires and brakes inspected regularly.
- Trucking companies must set reasonable schedules and train their drivers properly. These companies must also ensure that their trucks follow a routine maintenance schedule and promptly address mechanical problems.
- Parts or truck manufacturers might have provided faulty equipment that leads to an accident.
- Loaders must distribute and secure freight properly to minimize the risk of a cargo shift leading to a rollover. Loaders may be third-party companies, but shipper employees may also load cargo.
- Maintenance companies hired to maintain or repair trucks must take proper care to ensure trucks are safe. They must also inform the appropriate parties when dangerous conditions needing repairs exist.
- Government agencies are responsible for road maintenance and traffic lights or signs. Uneven pavement, potholes, roadway debris and malfunctioning traffic signals can contribute to truck accidents. Contractors could also be responsible for debris near road construction sites.
When you hire Horton & Mendez, we will thoroughly investigate your accident to determine who and what caused it. That way, we know who to seek compensation from. Your legal team will search for evidence that proves fault in maintenance logs, hours of service records and any available video footage, for example.
Why Do Truck Accidents Cause So Much Damage?
Semi-trucks are enormous compared to cars. A fully loaded tractor-trailer can legally weigh 80,000 pounds. Truck lengths average 72 feet, with a width of 8.5 feet and a height of 13.5 feet. The average passenger car only weighs 4,000 pounds and is around 15 feet long.
Trucks are much heavier, have significantly more momentum than cars, and can better tolerate the forces in a collision. Semi cabs and trailers can roll over onto passenger vehicles, crushing them. A truck’s height means it can drag or push cars partially wedged beneath it.
Car drivers and passengers typically sustain more severe injuries than truck drivers in collisions. The medical bills combined with lost wages often cause significant financial difficulties. These crashes often seriously damage or destroy cars, adding property damage to the mix. You could receive compensation after such an incident, and the team at Horton & Mendez can help you get it.
How Can Horton & Mendez Help With Your Truck Broker Liability Claim?
The founders of Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys have a unique experience that gives our clients an advantage: We started our law careers defending insurance companies. That means we have personal knowledge of insurance company tactics intended to reduce payouts. We also know how to overcome these strategies to maximize your compensation.
Learn more about how we can help with your truck broker liability claim. Contact Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys 24/7 to request your free, confidential case evaluation. Call us or submit our online contact form to request your consultation.