When Is a Manufacturer Liable for a Truck Accident?

Every year, approximately 5,000 people are killed in truck accidents in the United States. Thousands more victims are left with serious to catastrophic injuries. Under Virginia law, when someone is injured or killed in an accident, the victim or their survivors can pursue damages against the party or parties responsible for the accident that caused the injuries or death.

Truck accidents are often more complex than other types of vehicle accidents because there is often more than one potentially liable party, depending on the circumstances of the accident. Some truck accidents are caused by the actions of the truck driver, such as distracted driving, fatigued driving, violation of traffic laws, or driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. The cause of the accident could be due to something the trucking company failed to do, such as load too much cargo or fail to maintain the vehicle.

Another cause of truck accidents that a Virginia truck accident attorney has handled in truck accident lawsuits is faulty equipment or defective truck parts. When this is the cause of the accident, then the company that designed, manufactured, or distributed the part or equipment can be held liable for the damages caused by the truck crash.

One well-known example of defective vehicle parts that were responsible for crashes, injuries, and deaths is the General Motors faulty ignition switch recall. In 2014, the manufacturer issued massive recalls on ignition switches installed in millions of vehicles because they had a defect that caused engines to suddenly shut down without any warning. There were more than 124 deaths and hundreds of injuries that were a result of accidents caused by the defective ignition switches. Evidence later emerged that the automaker was aware of the defective but failed to take the steps to protect the public. The company was forced to pay about $870 million in wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits.

While many recalls are not as massive as the General Motor’s ignition switch recall, defective vehicle parts are more common than most of the public realizes. Some of the more frequent defective truck parts include parts in braking systems, steering mechanisms, hydraulics, and tire defects.

Equipment used to secure cargo can also be defective and cause terrible trucking accidents. There have been past reports of defective chains, claims, D-rings, latches, and tie-downs that failed, resulting in falling cargo that was not properly secured. When cargo is loose or falls off, it can hit passing vehicles or cause a vehicle to swerve and crash in an effort to avoid cargo laying on the road. Shifting cargo can also cause the truck driver to lose control of the vehicle or tip the vehicle over, resulting in devastating injuries.

When a truck accident is caused by a defective vehicle part, it can be complicated to prove that liability. This is why truck accident victims should consult with a Virginia truck accident attorney who has the experience and skill to investigate and build a solid case against the company that designed, manufactured, or distributed the defective part.

Once that liability is established, the company can be liable for a number of damages the victim has suffered because of the truck accident:

  • Past, present, and future medical expenses. This includes all emergency treatments, hospitalizations, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and medical devices
  • Loss of income and benefits while the victim is recovering
  • Loss of future income if the victim is left with permanent disabilities
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of daily life enjoyment
  • Permanent disability
  • Scarring
  • Disfigurement

Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney

If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries.

The legal team at Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has been advocating for clients in Virginia and North Carolina for more than three decades. Our personal injury firm has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.