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Liability in Tractor-Trailer Accidents: Shipper or Hauler?

Tractor-trailer accidents in Maryland, those vehicle collisions involving standard passenger vehicles and over large trucks, are far more devastating that most accidents due to the large size disparity between the vehicles involved, often resulting in large amounts of property damage and severe injuries or death to the driver of the smaller vehicle. For victims of tractor-trailer accidents, it’s important to know that there can be issues of liability to complicate any legal proceedings – namely is the trucker or the shipper liable for the accident?

While it’s true that liability typically resides with the driver, there are some conditions that shift some, if not all, of the liability to the shipper. What types of things can cause the shipper to share in the liability for a tractor-trailer accident?

Unfit Hauler

While the shipper typically isn’t liable for the negligent actions of an independent contractor, they can share liability if they knowingly hire a contractor that is unfit, either as a driver or because of their truck’s unsafe nature.

For example, if company A hires a trucker to haul their product, even knowing that his equipment is in ill-repair and/or that the driver has a history of reckless and negligent driving, they can be held liable if there is an accident caused by the tractor-trailer or the driver.

Improper Loading

Improper loading of the product to be hauled by the shipper can result in them being held liable for an accident if those improper loading practices are found to be at the root of an accident. Overloading or improperly securing a load by the shipper shifts some, or all, of the liability for a resulting tractor-trailer accident to the shipper, as they were responsible for what ultimately caused the accident.

Consult with a Truck Accident Attorney

As with any legal matter it’s important that you consult with a tractor-trailer attorney if you’ve been the victim of an accident involving a tractor-trailer and another’s negligence. Remember that states like Maryland have comparative negligence, which means you, the driver, and the shipper can all share liability for the accident, making it even more critical that you consult with an experienced attorney for tractor-trailer accidents.