Can I Hold An Out-Of-State Tractor Trailer Responsible?

January 13, 2021

West Virginia has 549 miles of interstate and 37,277 miles of public roads. Commercial truck drivers from all over the country use these roads to deliver goods and take others away, driving our local economy. Unfortunately, this activity also leads to fatalities and injury. Around 5,000 trucks are involved in fatal traffic collisions each year, and tractor-trailers are the most common source of accidents. Over half of West Virginia’s truck crashes involve carriers who operate out of the state. This means that filing a commercial motor vehicle accident claim consists of both interstate and federal laws. In many cases, these crashes result from the negligence of truck drivers and their employers.

Companies that own commercial trucks are responsible for their fleet as well as their drivers. Due to commercial vehicles’ size, truck owners must carry insurance policies with much higher limits than the standard auto insurance policy. Because the company is out of state, some people think they will be unable to act and hold the company responsible for their negligence. However, this is not true. You have the right to pursue compensation if an out-of-state trucking company and/or its driver acted negligently and caused your crash and injuries.

When Can You Hold Out-Of-State Trucking Companies Liable?

Respondeat superior is the Latin phrase for “let the master answer.” It is also the legal doctrine that allows an employer to be held liable for the acts of its employees if the employee commits those acts while working. Or as most know it as vicarious liability. This means that trucking companies from other states can be liable for their drivers’ negligent actions or failures to act under this doctrine. Things like speeding, reckless driving, drunk driving, and even driving with improperly secured cargo can be shown as neglect. Out-of-state trucking companies can also be liable for their own negligence. Common reasons why companies are liable to include:

  • Inadequate hiring
  • Inadequate training
  • Violating hours of service rules
  • Poorly inspecting and maintaining trucks

Determining Fault in Trucking Accident

Determining who was at-fault in a trucking accident can be difficult. However, there are multiple ways to collect appropriate evidence to help determine the at-fault driver. When a trucker has been in an accident, there are almost always tests taken to determine whether the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. Another piece of evidence would be to review the trucker’s cell phone records. This is because FMCSA rules ban truck drivers from texting and other forms of hand-held phone use while driving. The point of those rules is to prevent distracted driving accidents. Additional forms of evidence can include:

  • The truck’s GPS data and electronic data recorder information
  • Onboard camera footage
  • Bills of lading
  • Tollbooth receipts
  • Background checks and hiring and training records
  • The trucking company’s maintenance records.

Proving a trucking company’s liability in West Virginia is no easy task. Therefore, a truck accident victim must seek the help of a knowledgeable trucking accident attorney as soon as possible. Trucking companies must maintain only certain records for limited periods of time. It is vital for an attorney to obtain those records before the company alters, loses, or destroys those records.

The West Virginia truck accident attorneys at the Manchin Ferretti Law Group are committed to helping victims of negligence. We assist accident victims in finding peace of mind and financial security. To schedule a free initial consultation about your legal case with our personal injury lawyers, please contact us today!



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