Large commercial trucks sharing the roadways with much smaller, privately-owned vehicles can create a dangerous situation for everyone on the road. Because these vehicles are so large in size, they often have limited visibility, creating multiple blind spots in which truck drivers are unable to see the road. More importantly, if an accident involving a large commercial truck does occur, the consequences for all those involved in the accident can be substantial, even life-threatening.
Accidents involving a large commercial truck are often subject to legal action, in large part because those who are the victims of these types of unfortunate circumstances often require substantial medical treatment in order to recover from their injuries. The costs of this treatment are often quite high, and therefore trucking accident victims often seek compensation for their losses. However, assessing liability for trucking accidents can often be complicated, as several different parties may be variously implicated in the accident’s occurrence. An example of a prominent trucking accident settlement can help to show how exactly this can operate.
A truck driver working for a cable company in Texas struck a vehicle driven by Mindy Ragsdale, with her grandmother Peggye Woodson in the passenger’s seat, killing both women. The collision occurred even though the driver should have had as many as 14 seconds of visibility in which to come to a stop behind the vehicle. The accident occurred because the driver had been busy texting on his cellphone instead of focusing on the road, as he should have been.
In this circumstance, the driver was clearly the individual responsible for the accident’s occurrence. However, the truck accident lawyer which represented the family of Mindy Ragsdale and Peggye Woodson was able to effectively argue that the company bore at least some share of responsibility for the accident because it had failed to implement a ban on cellphone use while driving for its employees. Under the legal theory of vicarious responsibility, this would have left the company liable for much of the damages sought by the family if the case had gone to trial. In order to avoid this outcome, as well as the negative publicity such a move might result in, the company settled out of court with the family.
This is just one example of the many ways that trucking accident liability can be more complicated than it may initially appear. While the driver was certainly responsible for the accident, the company which employed him was also eventually deemed liable for the damages that his negligent actions caused because of its own lax safety policies. Many similar cases occur every year in the United States.