Collision between a semi truck and a car

Who Can Be Liable in a Semi-Truck Accident?

Law Office of James A. Maniatis Aug. 25, 2023

Semi-truck accidents are some of the most devastating types of collisions on our roads. These accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and deaths due to the disparity in vehicle size between the truck and other passenger vehicles. The aftermath of any truck accident can be traumatizing for the victims and may create a number of legal complications. One of those complications is determining who can be liable for the damages caused.  

As an experienced truck accident attorney at the Law Office of James A. Maniatis, I can assist you in determining who is responsible for causing your semi-truck accident. I am committed to working tirelessly on behalf of accident victims and their families to help them get justice and obtain the full amount of compensation they deserve.  

With three locations in Massachusetts—Shrewsbury, Southborough, and Webster—I serve clients throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, including Millbury, Westborough, Oxford, Northborough, and other areas.  

Assessing Liability in a Truck Accident Case

Liability in accidents involving semi-trucks and other large trucks depends on the circumstances surrounding the crash. Any of the following parties may be found liable: 

  • The truck driver. If the accident was the result of the truck driver’s negligence (e.g., speeding), the trucker may be solely responsible for the crash and the resulting damages.  

  • The trucking company. Depending on what caused the accident, the trucking company may be partially or fully at fault for the accident. For example, if the company forced a truck driver to violate hours-of-service rules to meet deadlines, it would most likely share the blame for the accident.  

  • The owner of the truck. Not all commercial truck drivers own the vehicles they drive. For this reason, the truck's owner may be found liable if they were responsible for maintaining the truck and the accident occured because of inadequate maintenance of the vehicle.  

  • The manufacturer of the truck or its parts. If a truck accident is caused by a manufacturing or design defect in the vehicle or its parts, the manufacturer(s) could be held liable for the resulting crash.  

  • The shipper/loader of the cargo. Collisions involving trucks can be caused by cargo shifts or loads falling off the truck. The party responsible for shipping and loading cargo can be held liable for the accident in such collisions.  

A skilled and detail-oriented attorney can help investigate how the accident occurred to identify all potentially liable parties. Determining what caused the accident is always the first step on the road to financial recovery. The second step is assessing liability based on how the accident occurred.  

Proving Negligence After a Semi-Truck Accident

If you or someone you love has been involved in a semi-truck accident, you need to prove that another party (e.g., the truck driver and/or trucking company) was negligent. Recovering damages hinges on your ability to prove negligence in your case. The legal term “negligence” refers to the failure to exercise reasonable care. In truck accident cases, negligence can be proven by establishing the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence:  

  1. The defendant (e.g., the truck driver) owed you a duty of care (truck drivers always owe a duty of care to those around them on the road);  

  1. The defendant breached the duty of care (e.g., the truck driver was driving above the posted speed limit);  

  1. The breach caused the accident; and 

  1. You suffered calculable damages in that accident (e.g., medical expenses, loss of income, etc.).  

Each of these four elements must be proven to prevail in your claim against the defendant. If you can prove some but not all four of these elements, you will not be able to obtain compensation.  

What Happens if You Share Liability?

Massachusetts is one of the many states that adopted a modified comparative negligence law. Under this law, if you share liability for a truck accident, you will not be able to recover full compensation for your injuries and losses. Instead, your recoverable damages will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.  

For example, if the truck driver was found 75% at fault for causing a semi-truck accident and you were 25% at fault, your total compensation would be reduced by 25%. However, if your degree of fault is determined to be 51% or more, you will not be entitled to any compensation whatsoever.  

Strong & Reliable Legal Guidance

If you have suffered injuries or your loved one was killed in a semi-truck accident, contact the Law Office of James A. Maniatis today to get reliable legal guidance. I have the experience and resources to effectively investigate your accident to help you determine liable parties and fight for the compensation you are entitled to. Contact my office to receive a free initial consultation.