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Are Truck Drivers Liable for Damages in Utah?

— November 2, 2022

Mechanical failure is also a reason to hold the trucking company liable for damages.

South Jordan, UT – Large commercial vehicles account for 9% of all traffic fatalities in Utah. According to the NHTSA, in a recent year, 376 people were killed and thousands were injured in truck accidents on Utah’s roadways. Most truck drivers manage to escape with barely a scratch from an accident. Over 70% of the victims in truck crashes are occupants in passenger cars, motorcyclists, or pedestrians. Having someone killed or severely injured in a truck accident causes a lot of pain and puts enormous financial stress on the whole family. 

To recover damages you must speak with an experienced Utah truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Crashes involving commercial vehicles require complex investigations to determine liability. You may be able to file a claim against the trucker, hold his employer accountable for damages, or sue both.

When are truckers liable for damages in Utah?

If you’re ever involved in a truck accident and you do not require emergency medical care, go talk to the trucker. Get their name and license plate, see who they work for and ask them about their insurance. The sooner you know these things the easier it will be to file a claim.

If the driver is an independent contractor, he is not technically an employee of a trucking company, even if he does work for one. As an independent contractor, he must carry his own insurance. This may be bad news for you as many truckers only carry minimum liability and it might not be enough to cover your damages.

The trucker will also be liable for damages if the accident was caused by his negligence. This refers to crashes caused by speeding, aggressive driving, or intoxicated driving. 

At the same time, if the trucker was operating the vehicle for personal reasons outside the scope of employment, you will have to file a claim against his insurance.

How can I sue a trucking company?

This is the main reason why you need to contact seasoned Utah truck accident lawyers. They will start by reading the police report but will want to go further and conduct an in-depth investigation. 

As an example, if it turns out the trucker was intoxicated, he will face criminal charges. However, your truck accident lawyers will check whether his employer complied with federal safety regulations and submitted its employees to regular drug and alcohol tests. They will also check the trucker’s record. If he had alcohol-related charges before he was hired by the company, the employer can be accused of negligent hiring. Negligence is the cornerstone of every personal injury claim and you may hold the company responsible for the damages caused by their intoxicated employee.

Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via
Trucks in mechanics bays for service; image by Carlos Daniel, via

Mechanical failure is also a reason to hold the trucking company liable for damages. Under FMCSA regulations, the company must have the vehicles inspected at regular intervals and perform adequate maintenance. If the truck had a tire blowout or a problem with the brake system, that’s on the employer, not the trucker. 

As an example, the police report may say that the trucker failed to stop to avoid a collision, but maybe he tried and the brakes failed. Your lawyers will bring in independent experts to examine the truck and will check maintenance records to see when the vehicle was last inspected. 

If you were recently injured or you lost someone in a truck accident in Utah, schedule a free consultation with a reliable attorney at the Pearson Butler Law Firm. Their lawyers have the experience and the determination required to determine who is responsible for your family’s suffering.

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