In parts 1 and 2 of this article, concerns were discussed about the responsibility
of drivers, and their employers, for tractor trailer or other commercial
truck collisions causing serious injury or death. Sometimes associated companies, or companies
who participate in commercial activity with a trucking company, share
liability, too. Where several companies form a joint venture to conduct
a commercial enterprise, or move freight, each party can have separate
liability. The joint venture need not always be expressly understood.
Its existence can be implied.
The logistics company dispatching trucks and planning routes, for example,
can have substantial input about the driver’s schedule, demands,
check-in times, logging, and routing of the driver through an appropriate
course. Failure to fulfill these tasks can subject the logistics company
The Cargo Company
Often, commercial trucking companies move cargo for others. If they haul
full loads, the loads may be planned and controlled by the customer, or
a third party cargo company. Loads not appropriately restrained, exceeding
height or width standards, or loaded in a way impairing visibility can
lead to collisions causing serious injuries or death. Cargos can shift
in route causing imbalance and contributing to collisions. Overweight
conditions can skew braking distances, causing further problems. These
circumstances can render the cargo company liable.
Sometimes, the equipment is rented, and at other times, the truck driver,
himself, is rented. In the trucking industry, even the safety function
might be performed by an outsider. Careful investigation is required.
If the safety function is performed inadequately – due to training,
safety equipment availability, driver monitoring, dispatch monitoring,
or other appropriate safety functions, the safety company can have responsibility.
If the trucker is “leased” or hired and identified through
a driver-vetting agency, both the direct employer of the driver, and the
trucking company leasing the driver from the payroll company, are responsible
to investigate, and make certain, the driver’s fitness, suitability
to drive, physical condition, currency of license, safety training, eligibility
under hours of service limitations, safety record, freedom from abusive
use of substances that disqualify drivers, etc. This includes monitoring
and investigating driver medical fitness, changes in driver medical condition,
and other aspects of driver conduct and lifestyles affecting the commercial
driver’s operations of a rig. The role of any driver or leasing
company, and the possibility that such a company is involved and failed
to perform its duties competently, always deserves consideration.
In the trucking industry, some companies simply own equipment and lease
it, like other companies lease real estate. A company owning a fleet of
tractors or trailers leased for use by others often shares responsibility
with the lessee for maintenance, equipment compliance with regulations,
and safety features. Equipment failures, breakdowns, or other insufficiencies
can cause fatal collisions. The equipment company’s liability may
be an issue.
Trucking companies often share space on trailers, or capacity in tractors
to pull shared loads. Sometimes they share drivers, trailers, or even
tractors. Often they share dispatchers. Depending on the circumstances,
each of these instances can give rise to liability against each of the
participants in the sharing process. Individual circumstances must be
Domina Law Group pc llo’s lawyers have been involved in commercial
truck collision cases, involving devastating personal injuries and horrible
wrongful deaths from the border states in the South to the Upper Midwest.
The firm knows and appreciates Federal Motor Carrier Safety Standards,
trucking industry standards, the investigation process, and the unique,
important factors that can make the difference between winning and losing
in court in cases involving trucking companies that are of vital interest
and importance to injured persons, or loved ones following wrongful death.
See Part 1 Here
See Part 2 Here