Who’s Responsible? Truck Accident Liability in Washington DC

By Julie H. Heiden

Big trucks play a necessary part in America, transporting goods to the other side of town or across the country. As much as we appreciate the trucking industry for the vital services performed, the fact remains that truck accidents can be deadly. Can you obtain compensation for injuries after a collision? Truck accident liability is a complex beast, but we at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, can hold the at-fault party accountable.

Why Is Truck Accident Liability So Complex?

truck accident liability

Unlike most passenger autos, a truck has multiple potentially at-fault parties, and an investigation is often necessary to determine who is liable in a truck accident.


Many accidents happen because of human error. Truckers may:

  • Drive under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or fatigue
  • Ignore traffic laws
  • Speed or drive aggressively
  • Become distracted while driving

If the truck driver acts in these negligent ways, they may be liable for your damages.

Trucking Company

Trucking companies must ensure that their drivers adhere to safety regulations. Unfortunately, these companies sometimes require drivers to work long hours to meet deadlines. We can hold trucking companies accountable for their negligent behaviors.


Parts and vehicle manufacturers should provide quality goods. Faulty brakes and tire blowouts are common reasons for truck accidents. The manufacturer might be liable if a manufacturing or design defect causes these parts to fail.

Maintenance Companies

Many truck fleets use third parties to maintain their trucks. The responsible company should:

  • Ensure that worn or faulty parts are repaired or replaced promptly
  • Perform routine maintenance on a pre-determined schedule
  • Warn truck owners about serious performance or safety issues

If the maintenance company fails to meet its obligations, it might be liable for an accident.

Cargo Loaders

Trucks typically haul heavy cargo. This cargo should have an even weight distribution and be fastened securely for safe transport.

Shifting cargo can cause trucks to overturn, and loose cargo can fall onto roads or nearby vehicles. Loaders are responsible for improperly loaded cargo, potentially making them liable for your damages.

Are There More Complications?

The goverment may be included in who is liable in a truck accident.

Multiple-party potential liability isn’t the only complication in truck accident claims. Every accident is different, but there are a few other complications that may apply in your case.

Government Agency Involvement

Various government agencies are responsible for maintaining interstates, highways, roads, and streets. They must also maintain traffic lights, painted lane dividers, and light poles. Some truck accidents happen because of:

  • Poor road design
  • Potholes or broken pavement
  • Malfunctioning traffic lights
  • Poor lighting due to missing or burned-out bulbs on light poles

If any of these conditions contribute to your truck accident, you might be able to file a claim against the responsible government agency. You might also hold an agency accountable if a government vehicle is ultimately responsible for your truck crash.

These claims are subject to shorter timeframes and stricter protocols and procedures.

Contributory Negligence

Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland use contributory negligence laws that govern who is eligible to seek damages after a truck accident. Under these strict rules, you cannot obtain compensation for your damages if you are even slightly responsible for your accident.

Because of contributory negligence, proving that truck accident liability rests with another party is one of the most important jobs your attorney will perform.

High Damages

The typically serious injuries sustained in truck accidents cause significant financial damages that insurance companies don’t want to pay, adding another challenge to truck accident claims. These companies may attempt to place fault onto you unfairly to justify denying your claim.


Although any motor vehicle accident might require an investigation to determine fault, those involving truck accidents need to be more thorough due to the many potentially liable parties. An in-depth investigation requires skill, experience, time, and resources that you may not have.

Fortunately, your legal team from Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, knows how to investigate truck accidents and the kinds of evidence we need to prove fault.

Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?

Trucks are much larger and heavier than cars, so car drivers and passengers are at a high risk of sustaining serious, life-threatening, or fatal injuries. Fully loaded, a truck can legally weigh 80,000 pounds. A truck’s average length is 72 feet, with a 13.5-foot height and 8.5-foot width.

Especially at higher speeds, the impact of a truck hitting your vehicle has substantial force behind it. The truck might crush you against other moving or stationary objects, drag your vehicle along under its bed, or roll over on top of your car.

What Should You Do After a Truck Accident?

After any accident, there are several steps you should take:

  • Call the police.
  • Take photos and videos at the accident scene. Your attorney can use them to prove truck accident liability.
  • Accept or seek medical treatment. This provides professional care for your injuries, but it also serves to prove that the accident caused them.
  • Contact Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, to request your free case evaluation. We will assess your claim and can begin investigating your accident immediately.

We may give you more advice related to your specific case during your consultation.

Why Should You Hire an Attorney After a Truck Accident?

Who Is Liable in a Truck Accident in Washington DC?

Most people have a better chance of obtaining reasonable compensation after an accident with an experienced, competent personal injury attorney on their side. When you hire Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, we will:

  • Give you information and legal advice
  • Perform case-related administrative tasks, such as submitting paperwork
  • Handle communications with insurance companies
  • Thoroughly investigate your accident and gather evidence to prove truck accident liability
  • Negotiate a favorable settlement or take your case to trial

You deserve compensation for your injuries and the effects they have on your life, and we can help you get it. Best of all, you won’t pay us any fees unless we win compensation for you.

Why Choose Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP?

Because truck accident claims are complex, you need an attorney with experience in handling them successfully. Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis, LLP, has recovered over $1 billion for our clients over 40 years, and we want to help you, too.

Contact us today if you need assistance with truck accident liability or other personal injury matters.

About the Author
Ms. Heiden is a Virginia injury attorney who represents injured individuals in personal injury, product liability, social security, and workers compensation cases. In 2009, she was recognized by Cambridge Who’s Who for demonstrating dedication, leadership, and excellence in legal services.