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A Comprehensive Guide to Determining Liability in Truck Accidents 


Determining liability in a truck accident can be tricky. Multiple parties are often involved, each responsible for a different aspect of the vehicle or shipping process. There's also a complex web of regulations, some specific to Washington, that apply to the trucking industry in Seattle and all of Washington State. Plus, various state and local laws regulate commercial trucks.   

So, if you're injured in an accident involving a commercial truck, it's crucial that you seek professional advice from a local attorney. You need to find a Seattle truck accident lawyer if your crash happened in the area, and you need a Los Angeles-based attorney for accidents that occur there, as laws may vary depending on the accident's location. 

Below, we offer a guide to determining liability in a truck accident. Keep in mind, though, that the complex nature of truck accident injuries means you should hire a knowledgeable attorney to help you through the process. 

Potential liable parties

More often than not, truck accidents involve multiple parties. These parties can include:


The truck driver may be considered liable if their negligence contributed to the accident. Negligence from the driver may include: 

  • Driving while under the influence
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Failing to yield to right-of-way traffic
  • Driving while distracted
  • Speeding 
  • Running red lights or stop signs 

Trucking company

The trucking company might be liable for the accident if it was due to a company's practice or obligation. Examples of this include: 

  • Negligent hiring practices
  • Failure to complete inspections
  • Overloaded trailers
  • Failure to maintain equipment
  • Allowing or encouraging drivers to break federal laws or local regulations

Truck owner

Sometimes the truck owner is separate from the trucking company. If that's the case, the owner may bear liability for the accident. 

Owners are typically responsible for general truck maintenance and inspections. If they failed to complete regular maintenance or didn't pass necessary inspections, the owner may be liable for the accident. 

Truck manufacturer

In certain cases, the truck manufacturer may bear liability for the accident. For example, if a part is defective and leads to a mechanical malfunction, the manufacturer will be at fault. 

For example, a defect could lead to a tire blow-out which can cause an accident. Or, perhaps a malfunction led to brake failures. In either case, the truck manufacturer would be liable for the accident. 

Loading company

Sometimes, a separate loading company is responsible for loading the truck trailer. If the loading company leaves cargo unsecure or loads a container so that it's unbalanced, the container could tip or fall off the trailer. That would make the loading company liable for the accident. 

Laws and regulations

A lengthy list of laws and regulations apply to commercial trucks. These regulations come from multiple entities, including some state and local jurisdictions. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FCSA) will impact almost every aspect of a truck litigation case.

This administration provides regulations regarding things like hours of service. Hours-of-service refers to the number of hours a trucker can work without taking a break. If a driver ignores the hours-of-service laws or the trucking company encourages them to ignore said laws, they may be liable for the accident. 

Beyond hours-of-service, the FCSA regulates things like hazardous material transportation procedures and motor vehicle safety standards. 

Another administration, the National Highway Transport Safety Administration (NHTSA), regulates all motor vehicle transportation in the U.S. Their regulations will likely affect truck litigation cases. 

You'll need an attorney with a thorough understanding of all trucking industry laws to determine liability in a truck accident. 

Final thoughts 

Determining liability in truck accidents isn't always simple. There can be several parties involved, each responsible for a different aspect of truck transport. On top of that, multiple agencies regulate trucking and motor vehicles. 

That means you need a knowledgeable attorney if you've been injured in a commercial truck accident. A truck accident lawyer can help you navigate the complex industry and help you determine who was liable for the accident.

How do I determine who's at fault in a trucking accident? Insurance, Travel, Transportation, Automotive, Professional Advice, Laws and Regulations


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