Nashville, TN, Truck Accidents: Who Are the Potential Defendants?

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck, your first priority is getting to safety and being assessed for any injuries. Due to these vehicles’ larger size and weight, you may face a long road to recovery: common injuries include broken bones, concussions, and even brain injuries or spinal cord damage.

Once you’ve been treated, it’s time to contact a Nashville truck accident attorney, who will explain your options and begin negotiations with your insurance company. If these fail or do not provide enough to cover your needs, however, you may need to take your case to trial. There are a variety of individuals and organizations that you can bring suit against, including the four we’ll discuss today.

Truck Driver

The most obvious potential defendant is the actual truck driver. Every driver has a duty of care to other motorists and their passengers on the road, and reckless driving breaches this contract, warranting a lawsuit. Alcohol and drug intoxication, distracted driving, speeding, or failure to signal before changing lanes can all have serious consequences for fellow drivers, which is only magnified by the sheer size of a truck. Should it be found that the truck driver acted irresponsibly by following too closely, swerving into your lane, or failing to respect traffic signals, then you can sue them for damages.

Trucking Company

Most truck drivers work for regional or national trucking companies, which have their own responsibilities to their workers. They must provide adequate breaks and rest times, set reasonable quotas that do not overtire their drivers, and ensure that their fleet is well-maintained to withstand the rigors of the road.

Companies that fail to provide for the well-being of their employees can also be found liable should one of their drivers get into an accident on the road. Still, it must be proven that their negligence was a contributing factor. For example, if they set unrealistic deadlines that require a driver to work overly long hours, causing fatigue that leads to a trucker falling asleep at the wheel, this may be grounds for a lawsuit. However, if they failed to fix a minor truck component that was irrelevant to the accident, this would be too shaky of a case for the lawyer to pursue. Evidence in this kind of case would include company policies, timesheets and quota information, and testimonies from other truck drivers.

Truck Manufacturer

Because truck manufacturers create incredibly large vehicles that have the potential to cause great destruction, they are held to strict standards regarding quality assurance. Design flaws, like an inadequate braking system, may lead to a truck driver inadvertently slamming into another vehicle on one of Tennessee’s treacherous mountain passes because they could not brake in time. Poorly designed mirrors that leave excessive blind spots may mean that a truck attempting to exit the highway could not see a smaller vehicle and sideswiped it, leading to major damage for the occupants. 

It can be difficult for a truck accident attorney to hold the truck manufacturer liable unless it could be specifically proven that a design flaw led to the accident, and that driver negligence or a trucking company’s failure to maintain their vehicles wasn’t a cause. A case against the manufacturer would require expert testimony by mechanics and engineers demonstrating a known issue with a certain truck model and clearly connecting it to the events that caused harm. 

Nashville Department of Transportation and Multimodal Infrastructure

In other cases, a combination of driver negligence and poor road conditions may allow the Nashville Department of Transportation to be sued. Shoddy road maintenance and bad signage can all contribute to an accident, things that are outside of the truck driver’s control. For example, there may have been a previous accident that was not adequately cleaned up. The truck’s tire was punctured by a piece of debris, leading the truck to swerve into the other lane and hit a car. This would be, in part, a failure of the Department of Transportation.

However, it’s important to note that truck drivers, like other commercial drivers, are held to a higher duty of care; they are expected to take every necessary precaution, especially in hazardous conditions. Nashville is unlikely to be held liable if acts of nature were a contributing factor, like a truck that lost control during a rainstorm: it would be expected that the trucker would have pulled over and waited for conditions to improve rather than drive on a slippery highway. 

Generally, a personal injury attorney will attempt to negotiate with insurance companies before bringing any suit, and they will pursue a suit against the likeliest defendants first. Regardless, if you are bringing a lawsuit due to a truck accident, you may find your lawyer seeking a settlement from one or more of these four defendants, each with varying levels of culpability for the accident.