Any traffic accident has the potential to disrupt and devastate the lives of those involved. For drivers and passengers who are involved in accidents involving large commercial trucks, the recovery and claims process is often much more complicated.

When it comes to determining who bears legal responsibility for damages and injuries after a truck accident, there may be many negligent parties. As you explore your legal options, it is important to take great care to identify and include all potential defendants in your personal injury claim.

Is the driver an employee?

Drivers generally operate as either independent contractors or as employees of a company. Depending on the nature of a truck driver’s relationship with the company that hired them to drive when the accident occurred, you may have grounds to include the shipping company in your claim. In most cases, employers bear responsibility for the actions of their employees, so if the driver is classified as an employee, then you probably have grounds to name the employer company in your claim.

However, if the driver is an independent contractor and not an employee, the company has more legal separation to protect itself from such a claim. In this case, you may only be able to name the driver in your claim.

Other potentially liable parties

If the driver’s actions or negligence did not cause the accident, some other party may be responsible. In some cases, a component of a truck may fail, causing the accident. If a defective part or poorly maintained truck caused your accident, you may have grounds to sue the part manufacturer or trucking company.

Likewise, the party that hires the driver may not be the same party that is responsible for packing the load. If a load is not packed and secured properly, it may shift during transit and cause an accident. In this scenario, the party that packed the load and sent the driver on his or her way may be on the hook for the damages. The same goes for the service provider that maintains and repairs the vehicle.

By carefully assessing your legal options and the available legal remedies, you can protect your rights and increase the likelihood of recovering fair compensation for any  injuries and losses suffered in a trucking accident.