Truck accident lawsuits generally involve vehicle accidents that consist of at least one large commercially operated truck. This can include vehicles such as the following:
- Big rigs;
- Semi trucks;
- Delivery trucks;
- Cargo trucks;
- Tractor-trailer trucks; and/or
- Transport trucks.
It does not generally include passenger vehicles, such as pickup trucks or SUVs. Truck accident lawsuits often result from an injured party attempting to receive a damages award for injuries suffered due to the accident.
What Types of Serious Injuries are Involved in Truck Accidents?
A typical commercial truck can often weigh more than 25 times the weight of a car. Because of the sheer size of the commercial truck, any accident with a truck can be catastrophic and often results in fatalities. The most common examples of serious injuries which may be associated with truck accidents include:
- Back and neck injuries, which can vary from pain to spinal cord injuries;
- Broken bones;
- Head injuries, such as concussion and traumatic brain injury;
- Internal bleeding and/or injury;
- Bruises and abrasions;
- Torso and rib injuries, such as a fractured or broken rib bone;
- Seat belt injuries, including whiplash;
- Full or partial paralysis; and/or
- Wrongful death.
While this list includes some examples of physical injuries, other injuries could include mental issues stemming from the incident. PTSD and anxiety are two common examples.
What Causes Truck Accidents?
Trucking accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons include, but may not be limited to:
- Various engine problems;
- The truck’s hood flew open and obscured their vision;
- Poor road conditions, such as significant potholes;
- Poor weather conditions;
- Lane drifting;
- Improper truck maneuvering; and/or
- Driver fatigue.
Accidents caused by the truck driver are largely due to driver fatigue. This is because trucking companies generally push to have products arrive on time, with this need sometimes taking priority over the driver’s health safety. Because of this constant urgency to fulfill an order, different types of negligence may cause an accident.
Truck drivers may be held liable if the accident was intentional, or if the driver was an independent contractor while operating the truck. If the truck driver can prove that the accident was unintentional, and/or that they are an employee of a trucking company, the trucking company may be found liable instead.
Under the “Respondeat superior” theory, employers are always held responsible for unintentional accidents caused by an employee. There are multiple reasons an accident can occur that could place direct blame on the trucking company:
- Encouraging unsafe driving to fulfill an order, as previously discussed;
- Forcing commercial drivers to be on the road beyond hours that are permitted under state and federal trucking regulations;
- Hiring drivers without conducting proper criminal background checks, drug or driving tests, or mental examinations; and/or
- Failing to regularly conduct inspection, maintenance, or repairs to their fleet.
All of the above examples can contribute to the cause of a trucking accident.
Does D.C. Have Any Special Truck Accident Laws?
Truck accidents generally follow the laws associated with personal injury. Such laws can vary from state to state. In D.C., truck drivers are liable for causing the accident by their own conduct. This means that there is a duty of care owed by the truck driver, and it must be proven that that duty was breached.
Simply put, D.C. truck accident laws state that truck drivers in D.C. are held liable for the operation of the truck, and may be at fault for any accidents resulting from their negligence to do so properly and legally. Beyond that, D.C. does not necessarily have any special truck accident laws.
How Can I File a Truck Accident Lawsuit in D.C.?
It is important to note that you will most likely need to file a truck accident lawsuit in D.C. if:
- The accident occurred in D.C.;
- The defendant resides and/or works in D.C.; or
- The company’s principal place of business is in D.C.
Fault for a truck accident must usually be determined before proceeding with a lawsuit. This can be accomplished through police reports, eye witness statements, and accident scene reconstruction. Medical records and photo evidence of injuries are also recommended examples of evidence.
Once the lawsuit proceedings have begun, you will need to prove that the truck driver was negligent in some way. Those injured in a trucking accident must show the following:
- The defendant (the driver, truck company, business entity, etc.) owed the plaintiff the duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care, in order to avoid injury under the circumstances;
- The defendant failed to exercise reasonable case; and
- The defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care resulted in the injury which caused the plaintiff’s injury.
If you were involved in a truck accident and would like to file a lawsuit, you should consult with a personal injury attorney. They will have a good understanding of your state’s personal injury and negligence laws, and will be able to better educate you regarding how to file a truck accident lawsuit.
What Types of Legal Remedies are Available in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
The legal remedies available in a truck accident lawsuit will generally be the same as in other personal injury lawsuits. Such remedies usually consist of a monetary damages award, which requires the liable party to reimburse the victim for any losses associated with the accident injuries. These losses could include:
- Hospital expenses;
- Medication bill;
- Therapy costs;
- Lost wages; and/or
- If a death or fatality results from the collision, a wrongful death lawsuit can be filed if the truck driver was grossly negligent.
In order to determine fault, truck accident lawsuits often involve heavy factual and legal analysis. In most cases, the opinion of a personal injury lawyer can help determine liability. This could result in a more accurate damages award intended to truly reflect legal liability for the accident. Punitive damages are reserved for cases that are especially egregious.
Should I Hire a D.C. Lawyer for Help with a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
If you were involved in a truck accident in the D.C. area, you should immediately consult with a D.C. lawyer. A skilled and knowledgeable personal injury attorney specifically would be beneficial for such a case. An experienced personal injury attorney can ensure your rights are protected, as well as represent you in court as needed.