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Wisconsin Semi-Truck Accidents: Who Is Liable?

Is the Driver or the Company Liable in a Wisconsin Trucking Accident?

Is the Driver or the Company Liable in a Wisconsin Trucking Accident?

A legal claim following an accident involving a large commercial truck (also referred to as a tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, semi-truck) often involves both the commercial truck driver and the trucking company that owns the truck.

Employers have legal responsibility for the actions of their employees while they are performing their job duties. Companies that put fleets of tractor-trailers on the public roads have a legal duty to ensure the vehicles are adequately maintained and operated safely. Trucking companies and drivers are regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The Milwaukee truck accident lawyers at Gruber Law Offices, LLC investigate truck accidents and represent people injured by unsafe truckers. Truck accident cases can be complex because of the multiple parties potentially involved in a claim. Let a truck accident lawyer at Gruber Law Offices determine who is liable for your injuries and discuss your rights to seek full compensation for your injuries. You may have the right to claim compensation from multiple sources to cover your medical bills and other losses.

Is the Driver or the Company Liable in a Wisconsin Trucking Accident?

How Do Wisconsin Fault Laws Affect a Truck Accident Claim?

To pursue a personal injury claim after a commercial truck accident, you need to be able to show that someone other than you was at fault in the accident. There may be multiple parties at fault in a commercial truck accident. You may be able to sue the truck driver, the trucking company, the cargo shipper or other parties involved in a truck accident.

Who has liability for a truck accident is important to understand because Wisconsin law follows the doctrine of modified comparative fault, also known as “shared fault.” In a modified comparative fault system, everyone involved in an injury claim may be found to have some level of liability. Any award of compensation to an injured party in a claim is affected by their degree of fault for the accident.

More simply, in Wisconsin, each party in the accident is eventually assigned a portion of fault as a percentage. If a jury awards compensation to the plaintiff, the award is reduced if the plaintiff was partly responsible for his or her own injuries. If the jury awards $100,000 in damages and decides that the plaintiff is 25 percent liable for the car accident because he or she was speeding, then the $100,000 award is reduced to $75,000.

However, if the plaintiff is judged to be 51% or more at fault for the accident, Wisconsin law says they are not entitled to compensation.

Therefore, it is crucial to claim to uncover who is at fault for a truck accident and why they are considered to be at fault. It is not unusual for the truck driver, truck owner and others to begin pointing fingers when questions arise. If given the opportunity, lawyers for the truck driver or trucking company will surely try to blame you for causing the accident in which you were injured.

 

What is Taken into Consideration When Determining Liability in a Wisconsin Truck Accident?

What is Taken into Consideration When Determining Liability in a Wisconsin Truck Accident?

When the truck injury attorneys at Gruber Law Offices investigate a truck accident in Milwaukee County to determine liability we seek a variety of pieces of evidence, including:

  • Law enforcement’s accident report
  • Witness statements
  • Evidence from the crash scene
  • Security camera footage
  •  Data from the truck’s “black box” event data recorder
  • Information about the condition of the truck and other vehicles in the wreck
  •  The trucker’s activity logs, which according to FMCSA regulations must record daily truck inspections and time behind the wheel and rest breaks to comply with Hours of Service (HOS) requirements
  • Other trucking company records, such as truck maintenance records, cargo reports, statements from company employees, personnel records, policy and procedure manuals
  •  FMCSA regulations, which apply to the trucker, the trucking company, cargo, the truck and all people and entities involved in the interstate operation of commercial trucks.
What is Taken into Consideration When Determining Liability in a Wisconsin Truck Accident?

Understanding the Relationship Between Driver & Company

It is important in a truck accident investigation to establish the relationship between the truck driver and trucking company, and ownership of the truck. Motor carriers frequently claim that their drivers are contractors and not company employees, to distance the company from liability for the driver’s actions. In some cases, the trucker may own the truck’s tractor while the trailer is owned by another company.

However, certain records may establish an employer-employee relationship, such as hours worked, payment methods and how much control the trucking company has over the trucker’s schedule and activities. Similarly, Wisconsin state records can establish ownership of the truck and trailer.

It is important to understand that other parties may have contributed to a truck accident. For example, if a cargo shift contributed to the accident, a service vendor that loaded the cargo into the trailer may be liable if its negligence led to the truck’s cargo being improperly loaded and secured.

Once our Milwaukee truck injury attorneys establish how the accident occurred and identify those at fault, we calculate your losses related to the accident and file a claim with the appropriate insurers. To file a claim against the truck driver, trucking company and/or other parties, we would have to have evidence to show fault and liability.

In the first stage of a claim, we negotiate with insurers to try to settle the case. The insurance adjusters assign liability among the parties involved. As your attorneys, we can advocate on your behalf and submit evidence to the insurance adjuster to try to positively influence the trucking accident settlement process. We work to rebut unfounded allegations that put more blame on you and to mitigate the impact of unfavorable evidence. If an insurer refuses to offer a settlement, we file a lawsuit on your behalf and are prepared to seek justice in court.

Contact a Milwaukee Truck Accident Attorney

Contact a Milwaukee Truck Accident Attorney

Over the first half of this decade, there was an average of more than 6,750 large truck crashes a year in Wisconsin, with 71 fatalities and more than 2,000 injuries annually. Most people injured in truck accidents or who lose loved ones are at a disadvantage if they try to negotiate with trucking companies and insurers on their own.

At Gruber Law Offices, our Milwaukee truck accident lawyers have successfully handled scores of truck accident cases in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We work diligently to develop solid cases against all parties that should be held liable in a truck accident. We move aggressively to maximize the compensation that our clients recover. Speak with one of our dedicated attorneys about the trucking accident you were involved in by calling (414) 276-6666 for a free initial consultation. ONE CALL … THAT’S ALL!

Contact a Milwaukee Truck Accident Attorney