When Is a Broker or Shipper Liable for a Truck Accident?

When you become the victim of a trucking accident, you will have a long road ahead of you when it comes to recovering. The size and power of large commercial vehicles is enough to instantly kill with little effort, so the injuries you endure are likely to be severe. You could face weeks or even months of hospitalization and years of physical, mental, and emotional recovery.

Often an accident investigation uncovers layers of fault at the root cause of your truck accident injuries. Not only can the owner operator of the trucking company involved be held responsible, but so can brokers and shippers who took part in arranging the transport. Knowing how these essential arms of the trucking industry should behave can help determine their liability.

What is the role of a freight broker?

A broker is an intermediary who arranges transport of cargo or hazardous materials from one place to another by connecting motor carriers with shippers. Think of them as the matchmakers of the commercial transportation industry. They are tasked with finding the right fit for both parties to the transaction in the hope of creating a successful relationship. When something goes awry, the injured party often assigns blame to the broker for creating a poor match.

How can a broker become liable for a trucking accident when it does not actually own or operate the truck? The simple answer is that the broker may retain certain aspects of control and oversight over the transport but failed to uphold its responsibilities by:

  • Failing to exercise its expertise in the field when making decisions.
  • Failing to properly supervise all aspects of the contract from pick-up to delivery, when required.
  • Failing to check the safety record of the owner operator or trucking company.
  • Hiring a trucking company with a known record for safety violations or accidents.
  • Ignoring established requirements for trailer condition.

Generally, a broker has a duty to behave reasonably within the standards of the industry. Failure to do so could result in negligence that contributed to the accident that has altered your life, and can make the broker liable for your injuries.

What is the role of a commercial trucking shipper?

A shipper’s job is to ensure that goods or materials entrusted to them to be transported reach their destination. They are responsible for getting the cargo onto appropriate trucks and many of the necessary functions to accomplish that task. So while the broker matches trucking companies and shippers, the shipper is typically in charge of packaging, preparing documentation such as labeling and the bill of lading containing the contents of the shipment, and loading.

A large factor in the transportation industry is cost. The less spent to get goods or commodities to their destination, the more profit there is to be made, and sometimes safety is sacrificed for increasing a company’s bottom line.

Most reputable shipping companies follow safety protocols in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier safety regulations (FMCSR). Failing to conduct proper due diligence and violating these rules can lead to shipper liability for trucking accidents that occur due to:

  • Failure to screen the trucking company and drivers with whom they intend to contract.
  • Overlooking carrier violations such as overloading trucks or pushing drivers to maintain tight delivery schedules by exceeding hour or service rules.
  • Failing to ensure the trucking company is properly licensed and insured.
  • Neglecting to provide proper instructions to the carrier or the truck driver for securing the load.
  • Improperly loading or securing the cargo.
  • Disregarding a driver’s safety record that would uncover speeding, DUI or drug charges, accidents, or logbook violations.
  • Incomplete investigation of a driver’s fitness that could result in health issues that pose risk of medical emergencies or being unqualified to transport hazardous materials.

You do not deserve the hardship you now face due to the illegal conduct of a company that failed to safely transport goods. You need the trusted legal guidance of our catastrophic injury attorneys standing beside you. We will pursue available claims against each negligent party that had a hand in causing your suffering to provide you with the best opportunity to receive full compensation for your injuries.

To learn more about how our dedicated Los Angeles truck accident attorneys at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP will fight for your right to compensation for your injuries, schedule your free case evaluation today by calling 310-474-1582, or we invite you to reach out to us through our contact page.

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