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Who can be held liable for a truck accident?

Everyone must play by the same rules, as a general matter. When it comes to the rules of the road, however, this may not always be true. Certain vehicles on the road, such as semi-trucks, are held to different standards because of the unique nature of the vehicles.

Semi-trucks have a great deal of regulations that apply to them, governing everything from the size and weight of the trucks to the level of insurance that must be carried by operators or owners. Truck drivers are also bound by these regulations, such as standards on how much they can drive in a day.

The regulations that apply to semi-trucks are a matter of both state and federal law. For instance, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations impose obligations on truck drivers when a truck accident occurs. Motor carriers are required to keep information about an accident for a year after the accident, including a list of the accidents that have occurred, with the truck driver's name involved, the injuries involved and the number of fatalities. Motor carriers must also keep copies of all accident reports that were required by State or other governmental entities.

The motor carrier regulations also may play a part in determining who can be held liable for a truck accident. There may be different arrangements at play, including contracts entered into, between various truck drivers, owners, shippers or other entities. Accordingly, it is essential to know which of these individuals or entities can be held accountable in a lawsuit brought to receive compensation for a person's injuries. These arrangements are also important to know who may have insurance that can cover a person's injuries.

Ultimately, the different persons or entities involved can vary from accident to accident, and therefore the persons who can be held liable may differ. Therefore, an investigation may need to be done in each case to determine the responsible parties and whether insurance coverage is available.

Source: Maryland Department of Transportation, "Maryland Motor Carrier Handbook," accessed on Oct. 12, 2014

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