I am the Victim of a Trucking Accident, Who Can I Sue?

Friday, July 21, 2023

I am the Victim of a Trucking Accident, Who Can I Sue?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

If you have been hurt in a truck accident, your first thought may be to sue the truck driver or the trucking company. In doing so, you may only recover partially for your losses.

Multiple parties might be responsible for your injuries. If you have been involved in a truck accident, the legal team at Malman Law is here to help you recover fair compensation for the hardship you have suffered.

In determining truck accident liability, we will conduct a thorough investigation to determine which parties should be held accountable.

Defining Negligence

In 2021, 155,000 people were injury victims in trucking accidents in the United States. The circumstances behind a truck accident will determine which persons or entities are liable.

The number one cause of truck accidents is negligence. Negligence occurs when a person fails to use reasonable care in performing a task.

Duty of Care

Every person has a responsibility to not harm others, which is known as a duty of care. A truck driver has that same duty to all road users.

Motorists have a duty to abide by traffic signals and follow the rules of the road. A trucker must avoid any careless behavior that would threaten the well-being of others.

Breach of Duty

It is not enough to show that the truck driver had a duty of care. Once a duty of care is established, a truck accident victim has the burden of proving that the trucker breached that duty of care.

Evidence is a crucial component in proving that the truck driver veered from the acceptable standard of care.

Illinois does allow the use of red-light cameras. When a driver runs a red light, the camera will take a photograph and capture a video of the incident.

If a truck driver is captured running a red light, then the driver has failed to follow traffic laws and has breached their duty of care to other motorists.


In a truck accident, the driver’s actions must directly cause the plaintiff’s losses.

In determining the trucker’s degree of liability, the proximate cause would be examined. Proximate cause means that the victim’s injuries must have been a foreseeable consequence of the truck driver’s actions. In contrast, the factual cause is the event that sets everything into motion.

For instance, if a truck driver rear-ends your vehicle, it seems clear that the driver is responsible for your injuries and vehicle damage. However, if an investigation uncovers that the truck driver hit the brakes, but there was a malfunction, then the truck manufacturer would be considered the proximate cause of the accident.

In this situation, the truck manufacturer would be named a defendant in the lawsuit instead of the truck driver.


Besides showing that a certain person or entity was responsible for an accident, you must demonstrate that you had measurable losses. Losses may include injuries and property damage (i.e., vehicle repairs).

An experienced truck accident attorney can help you calculate your losses. It is important to keep pay stubs, invoices, and receipts in order to receive the compensation to which you are entitled.

If your truck accident case is brought to court, a judge or jury will be deciding your personal injury award.

Regulations for Commercial Drivers

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has set hour restrictions for all commercial drivers, known as the hours of service (HOS) regulations.

Property-carrying drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 hours in one day after being off-duty for 10 hours. These restrictions are designed to keep fatigued drivers off the road and reduce accidents.

Truck drivers use electronic driving logs, which eliminates the need for manual paper logbooks. The FMCSA requires drivers to use an electronic logging device (ELD) in order to record driving hours and to remain compliant with HOS regulations.

Gathering Evidence to Prove Liability

The cornerstone to building a strong case is gathering relevant evidence. Relevant or pertinent evidence supports a fact by making it more or less probable than without the evidence present.

Pertinent evidence may be one of three forms or any combination:

  • Physical evidence: truck parts, glass from headlights, skid marks, etc.
  • Digital evidence: electronic logging device (ELD), red-light cameras, video surveillance, photographs, electronic media files, etc.
  • Forensic evidence: forensic DNA, blood analysis, fingerprints, etc.

In order to document evidence, a chain of custody must be established. From the moment of collection, every transfer, analysis, and disposition of materials must be recorded.

Without a proper chain of custody, evidence that could help you win your case will be inadmissible in court.

Liable Parties

In a truck accident, it is common to blame the truck driver for responsibility. Common reasons for truck accident liability include:

  • Fatigue: truckers drive for long hours to make deliveries on time
  • Drug or alcohol impairment: many truck drivers are reported to have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08/deciliter or higher, twice the legal limit for commercial drivers
  • Speeding: drivers may speed, even in inclement weather, to stay on schedule
  • Inattentiveness or distracted driving: truck drivers are constantly trying to multitask while driving, keeping them from focusing on the road
  • Unsafe lane changes: trucks have large blind spots, which make it difficult for truckers to safely change lanes

Even so, there may be other parties that are at fault, including:

The trucking company

A trucking company is ultimately responsible for the hiring of truck drivers.

If a trucking company is putting inexperienced truck drivers behind the wheel or drivers who have violated HOS regulations, the company may bear part of the responsibility for an accident.

Truck manufacturer

A brake malfunction, tire blowout, or engine problem could be the fault of the truck manufacturer.

Different parts of a truck could be made by different manufacturing companies. For instance, the semi-truck or cab is normally made by one manufacturer, while the trailer will be made by a different manufacturer.

Maintenance company

If a part or component fails, the truck may be overdue for its scheduled maintenance.

If a maintenance company is cutting corners or a truck is not receiving routine maintenance, the maintenance shop may be held liable.

Cargo loader

Cargo is usually loaded by a dockworker or shipper. Sometimes a cargo carrier may be used for small shipments or smaller quantities.

Although overloaded cargo is the fault of the cargo loader, the trucking company and driver could share liability. The trucking company is ultimately responsible for inspecting cargo.

Although cargo loaders are not required to carry insurance, many do.

Comparative Negligence

In determining truck accident liability, multiple parties may share fault. In this case, the degree of fault would have to be assigned. Based on that percentage, each party would have to pay out damages.

So, if you sought $30,000 for property damage, but the truck driver was 30% liable, and the cargo loader was 70% liable, then the truck driver would be responsible for paying $9,000 worth of damages, and the cargo loader would be responsible for $21,000 of damages.

If a judge or jury awards you the requested damages, insurance companies will most likely be paying out the sum.

A Chicago Truck Accident Law Firm that Gets Results

If you were the victim in a car accident, you may be overwhelmed. Don’t let an insurance adjuster pressure you into taking an unfair settlement. At Malman Law, we have recovered over $400 million for our clients and their families. Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

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