Generally speaking, the driver of the truck, the trucking company, and the manufacturer of the truck can be sued in most cases. The specific facts of each case will ultimately determine which of those parties is at fault.
Negligence and Lawsuits Against the Trucker
In most cases, a person would look to file a lawsuit against the person driving the truck. The problem with that approach, of course, is that the truck driver will typically be judgment proof. This means that even if you win the lawsuit against them, you are unlikely to collect enough in damages to make the lawsuit worth the time and effort. This is why Oregon and Washington common law allows you to file a lawsuit against the company that hired the truck driver.
You should realize, of course, that lawsuits will only work when it is determined that the other driver was at fault. Negligence law in Oregon and Washington dictates that when a party is not acting in a reasonable manner, that party is responsible for all the damage that occurs as a result of their action. If the truck driver is at fault, then you can file a lawsuit against them and the company they are employed by. This is the legal doctrine of respondeat superior (“let the master answer”), which means a company is responsible for the actions of its employees.
Suing the Truck Manufacturer
Products liability law in Washington and Oregon is a bit more complicated, though you may have an opportunity to file a lawsuit against the truck manufacturer. If the accident was caused by either a faulty design of the truck or a malfunction in some part of the truck, you might also recover damages from the manufacturer.
If you’ve been in an accident involving a commercial truck, and you think they may be liable, give us a call and we can discuss the details of your case.