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Trucking Accidents

​When Does the Trucking Company Bear Liability for a Truck Accident?

Big trucks can present a serious challenge on the road. Not only does their larger size make it more difficult for other drivers to maneuver around them, but big trucks may also travel at a slower speed, and their drivers may spend more time on the road than the average passenger vehicle driver, which may mean the greater overall potential for several accident scenarios.

Often, the truck driver will bear liability for any accident caused by negligence on the road: cases where the driver may have fallen asleep behind the wheel struggled to keep the vehicle on the road in dangerous weather conditions, or ignored the rules of the road, for example. In other cases, however, the trucking company may bear full or partial liability for the accident.

If you have been injured in accident involving truck, reach out to an experienced truck accident lawyer at the Fernandez Firm for legal help.

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1. The trucking company has dangerous policies that violate FMCSA regulations.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has several clear regulations that establish safety standards, how the truck driver or trucking company should transport drugs and alcohol, and even how many hours a truck driver can spend on the road each shift. Some trucking companies, however, may ignore those regulations. If ignoring those regulations causes an accident, the trucking company may share liability. That might include several actions by the trucking company or the driver.

The trucking company pushes drivers to exceed the federal limit for hours a trucker can drive.

According to the FMCSA, a truck driver can drive a maximum of 11 hours after at least 10 hours off duty. Furthermore, the truck driver must complete those hours within 14 hours of coming on duty.

Unfortunately, some trucking companies may pressure their drivers to keep driving. While truck drivers may exceed those hours in some conditions, including bad weather conditions that may make filling their time on the road more difficult, driving beyond those hours can increase the risk of drowsy driving or distraction behind the wheel. As a result, the driver may have a greater than usual risk of causing a devastating accident.

The trucking company does not follow federal standards concerning the transportation of hazardous materials.

Transporting hazardous materials has its regulations and requirements. In addition to specific regulations truck drivers must follow as they transport those materials, drivers may need special licensing and certifications to transport those materials legally. Some trucking companies, however, may push drivers who do not have those certifications to take on those tasks, often in response to driver shortages or challenges that may make it more difficult for them to get someone behind the wheel to take on those tasks.

However, failure to properly transport hazardous materials can cause extreme danger to everyone who shares the road with that truck. Furthermore, the truck driver may face immense personal repercussions for taking on that load despite knowing he could not legally manage those tasks.

2. The trucking company failed to take care of the needed maintenance on the truck.

Big trucks require much maintenance to keep them in working order. Often, big truck drivers note problems with the truck as they handle their daily loads. Drivers frequently drive the same vehicle most of the time, which means they know when the truck starts to have problems.

However, some trucking companies may not take care of needed maintenance promptly. Although truck drivers should hand in reports at the end of every run, and the requirements for inspections on big trucks, many trucking companies still put off necessary maintenance.

The trucking company may not want the truck off the road.

Taking a truck off the road to take care of essential maintenance can mean that the truck does not go out, which means it cannot generate income for the trucking company during those maintenance periods. Many trucking companies do not want to take the truck off the road any longer than necessary, so they may put off basic maintenance tasks until the issues grow more serious.

The trucking company may want to avoid paying for more expensive repairs.

Maintenance on big trucks can prove extremely expensive, especially in cases where the truck may need extensive repairs due to a severe issue. Unfortunately, the trucking company may sometimes want to avoid paying for those maintenance needs. As a result, the trucking company may return the truck without taking care of that maintenance.

Sometimes, rather than taking care of maintenance correctly, the trucking company may authorize minor repairs, which may increase the risk of further damage or raise the odds that the truck will end up involved in an accident. While rigging the truck to run may make it functional short-term, it may not keep the truck steady long-term, leading to a greater overall risk of an accident.

The trucking company may lose track of needed maintenance.

Many companies operate large fleets of trucks. While the FMCSA mandates regular maintenance on big trucks, including regular inspections and ensuring that problems do not linger, some trucking companies may lose track of what maintenance the truck needs when.

That may mean that a truck stays out on the road despite clear problems or that the trucking company ignores ongoing needs like tires, emergency lights, or even windshield wipers, all of which can prove essential to keeping the truck safe for the driver and others on the road.

3. The trucking company fails to make sure that its drivers have adequate training.

Before they can acquire a CDL, or the license needed to drive a Class C vehicle (most big trucks), drivers must undergo considerable training. Each state may have regulations for what training a driver requires before obtaining that license. In general, however, drivers can assume that they will need multiple hours of on-the-road training and any classroom training they may go through.

Trucking companies must carefully check to ensure applicants have the right license to operate a commercial vehicle. Furthermore, drivers may need extra training once they accept their jobs. In some cases, they may need to learn how to navigate through areas they might not have covered in their initial training, including moving through the tight streets of Boston or navigating in traffic-heavy New York City.

In addition, trucking companies may need to ensure drivers have the right skills to navigate dangerous weather conditions. For example, truck drivers who learn how to drive in Florida might struggle to deal with snow and ice, while drivers from Arizona might have more trouble navigating in areas with heavy rainfall. Trucking companies may need to ensure that their drivers have the necessary skills and support to navigate those areas.

4. The trucking company pressures its drivers to drive in dangerous conditions.

Sometimes, trucking companies may pressure their drivers to head out on the road despite conditions that the drivers would otherwise choose not to navigate on their own. Truck drivers might recognize that they cannot safely drive, but the company may still push them to get out on the road.


Truck drivers may struggle with a high rate of addiction and drug and alcohol abuse. They often spend long hours on the road, separated from friends and family. Many truck drivers can expect to head out for days, unable to return to their families. As a result, they may struggle with feelings of loneliness. It may prove difficult to sleep or find leisure activities since they cannot predict where their shifts will end regularly. As a result, many truck drivers turn to drugs or alcohol to help them cope with those challenges.

Inebriation, however, can cause several serious problems for drivers heading out on the road. Inebriated drivers may struggle to control their vehicles safely. Driving a big truck can cause even more problems for intoxicated drivers.

If truck drivers report inebriation to their companies and note that they cannot safely drive, but the company pushes them to get out on the road anyway, the company may bear liability.


Truck drivers face the same risk of illness as anyone else. In fact, due to the conditions of the job and a great deal of time spent sitting, truck drivers may have a greater risk of suffering from obesity, sleep disturbances, fatigue, or cardiovascular disease. Sometimes, truck drivers may need to take time off to deal with illness or ongoing health concerns.

Unfortunately, trucking companies may not like their truckers sitting idle, so they may push them to get behind the wheel again even though they do not feel ready. Truck drivers taking cold and flu medications or driving while ill may struggle to control their trucks safely and have a greater overall risk of causing a dangerous collision.

5. The trucking company allows a driver to continue driving when the driver cannot pass his annual physical.

Most truck drivers must pass a DOT physical every one to two years to keep their trucking licenses and keep driving big trucks. Unfortunately, due to the high risk of dangerous medical conditions, some truck drivers may lose the capacity to operate their vehicles safely.

Drivers dealing with health concerns ranging from serious cardiovascular illness to sleep disturbances may have a greater risk of causing an accident when they take to the road.

Unfortunately, many trucking companies cannot afford to lose their truck drivers to poor health. Sometimes, trucking companies may pressure drivers to continue driving despite those potential dangers. If a driver who cannot pass his physical causes an accident due to a health emergency, the trucking company may bear liability for that incident.

The trucking company may also bear liability for allowing a driver to drive despite severe health conditions. For example, a driver who has recently had a heart attack may need time to recover before returning to the wheel. Unfortunately, the trucking company sometimes pressures him to keep driving anyway.

Learn More About Who May Bear Liability for Your Truck Accident

Frank Fernandez, Attorney for truck Accident in Florida
Frank Fernandez, Truck Accident Lawyer in Florida

After a truck accident, many people have questions about who likely bears liability for the incident and how that can impact their right to compensation. If you have questions about liability related to your truck accident, working with an experienced truck accident attorney can help provide you with the answers to those questions.

Attorneys can provide more information about how to tell if the trucking company shares liability for an accident. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible to learn more.