When a large truck and a passenger vehicle are involved in an accident, the results can be catastrophic–and understandably so. That said, truck drivers and companies have to follow safety regulations to keep the roads safe for everyone. The reason is simple: if anything goes wrong with a truck and causes a major road accident, there’s a chance at least a few people won’t be walking out of it alive.
If you or someone you know has been involved in a truck accident, visit these truck accident attorneys who will help you navigate this complicated legal landscape.
The Basics of Truck Accidents
Before diving into how lawyers determine fault in truck accidents, let’s first discuss the basic types of accidents that can occur involving commercial trucks:
- Rear-end collisions – If a truck driver hits the back of another vehicle, they may be at fault for not keeping a safe distance or breaking too late.
- Underride collisions occur when smaller vehicles get trapped underneath a trailer after rear-ending it.
- Jackknife accidents happen when a truck driver brakes too hard or suddenly, causing the trailer to swing out and potentially hit other vehicles.
- Rollover accidents – Larger trucks are more prone to flipping over during turns or driving at high speeds.
For your lawyer to file a successful claim, they must first determine who is at fault for the accident. Generally, three factors decide fault: negligence, liability, and damages.
Negligence refers to whether one party acted in an unreasonable manner that led to the accident happening. Liability determines responsibility for damages caused by either party involved in an accident – whether due to negligence or otherwise.
Finally, damages consider injuries sustained and property damage done during an accident. These factors also help determine who should be held responsible for paying compensation if it is applicable under state law (in some states, joint & several liability applies).
Typically lawsuits involve one of three potential defendants: The driver, the employer/company, and the equipment manufacturer. After determining negligence/liability/damages, a lawsuit could center around one or all identified potential defendants.
- Driver’s Fault: If the truck driver’s negligence causes an accident, they may be held responsible for compensating the injured party. Common examples of driver negligence include speeding, failing to check blind spots before changing lanes, distracted driving (such as texting), and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Employer/Company Fault: Truck companies must ensure that their drivers are properly trained, and their vehicles are in good working order with proper maintenance checks. Therefore, if an accident happens due to any deficiencies in these areas, the company can be held liable for damages – even if the immediate cause of the accident was not directly related to them. Additionally, through vicarious liability (otherwise known as Respondeat superior), employers can also be held responsible for accidents caused by their drivers during work hours even if, at times, fault extends past the employer’s scope and into driver negligence.
- Manufacturer Fault: Faults in trucks sometimes happen through no fault of drivers or operators. If an equipment defect leads to a truck accident, otherwise avoidable, wrongful death & personal injury, plaintiffs[and defense] attorneys could analyze if a product liability lawsuit on top of an existing claim could apply against negligent manufacturers of involved equipment. So defects/faulty replacement part(s)etc., will be investigated.
After a truck accident, it’s crucial to gather evidence as quickly as possible while information is still fresh before documentary trials become murky over time – including witness statements from everyone involved; photographs from different angles & viewpoints; the police report should have relevant details such as where/how do you believe who was engaging which action when?); communication elements such as texts/calls/messages exchanged between parties soon before the event would also play a role in the evidence gathering stage, etc. Good lawyers know what documentation will portray a clear picture.
Once fault has been determined, your lawyer must calculate how much compensation you’re entitled to based on the damages caused by the accident. Here are a few examples of compensation available:
- Medical bills – Truck accidents can lead to serious and costly injuries, including hospital stays, surgeries, and physical therapy. Courts generally award medical expenses compensatory amounts.
- Lost wages – If an injury causes you to miss work or results in your inability for long-term or short-term jobs, courts might offer past/future lost earning capacity when calculating the damages amount.
- Property Damage – Damages related to property may include not only but also include destruction of material possessions such as car repairs in case of the truck hitting a car [although commonly on liability/claims process].
- Pain and suffering – Non-economic damage that accounts for considerations like mental/psychological torment.
Truck accidents can have severe consequences for those involved. However, there are many faults; something a skilled lawyer investigates to determine who is responsible for causing damages. They will examine all things relevant possible while ensuring that their client is fairly compensated for the harm inflicted upon them. Calculating fault & fair compensation is sometimes more complicated, but with legal expertise guiding one through the claim filing process, the road ahead becomes slightly less daunting!