Truck accident lawsuits can cover vehicle accidents involving at least one large commercially operated truck. This can include vehicles such as big rigs, “semi” trucks, delivery trucks, cargo trucks, tractor-trailer trucks, transport trucks, and other types of trucks. Truck accidents refer to larger commercial vehicles as opposed to pick-up trucks or SUVs. A typical commercial truck weighs 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.
How Is Fault Determined in a Truck Accident?
As with all motor vehicle accidents, fault in a truck accident is usually determined through police reports, eye witness statements, and accident scene reconstruction.
Nowadays, many motor drivers who drive heavily use dashboard cameras (“dash cam”). In fact, some companies require it. Truckers maintain a strict, deadline-driven schedule and often have to drive through the night to make their deliveries on time. Many dashboard cameras are even advertised specifically for truckers. While these cameras do nothing to prevent accidents, because they capture the accident as it happens, they are more likely to show who is at fault in a truck accident.
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Who is Liable for the Injury?
Truck drivers can be liable if the accident was intentional or if the driver was an independent contractor (ie. not an employee of the company for which he drives) while operating the truck. If the driver can prove the accident was unintentional, and he is an employee of a trucking company, the trucking company may be found liable.
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 in order to fulfill an order;
- Forcing drivers to be on the road beyond hours that are permitted under state and federal regulations;
- Hiring drivers without conducting proper criminal background checks, drug or driving tests, or mental examinations; or,
- Failing to consistently conduct inspection, maintenance, or repairs to their fleet.
Common Causes of Accidents
There are multiple reasons for trucking accidents. From a deer jumping in the road to a tire blowing out, there are endless possibilities. Here are the most common reasons:
- Engine problem or hood flew up
- Poor road conditions or weather
- Lane drifting
- Improper truck maneuvering
- Driver fatigue
In accidents caused by the truck driver, 87% were due to driver fatigue. Trucking companies push to have products arrive on time, and sometimes this need is a priority over the driver’s safety. Because of the constant urgency to fulfill an order, different types of negligence may cause an accident.
How Can You Prove Negligence?
As true with most motor vehicle accident cases, the main theory of recovery is based on driver negligence. A person injured in a trucking accident must show the following:
- The defendant (the driver, truck company, business entity, etc.) owed plaintiff the duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid injury under the circumstances;
- Defendant failed to exercise reasonable case; and,
- Defendant’s failure to exercise reasonable care caused plaintiff’s injury.
What Are Some Legal Remedies Involved in a Truck Accident Lawsuit?
Legal remedies in a truck accident usually consist of a monetary damages award. This requires the liable party to reimburse the victim for any losses associated with the accident injuries. These can include hospital expenses, medication bills, therapy costs, and even lost wages. If a death results from the collision, a wrongful death lawsuit can result if the truck driver was grossly negligent.
Lastly, truck accident lawsuits often involve some serious factual and legal analysis in order to determine which party is at fault. It can sometimes be difficult to tell which party was responsible for a truck accident, but in most cases, the expert opinion of a lawyer can help determine liability by recreating the scene. This may also result in a more accurate damages award that truly reflects legal liability for the accident.
Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Truck Crash?
Truck crashes are complicated because more than one party may be at fault. Additionally, if you sue the truck driver’s employer, the employer has the funds to hire heavy hitting attorneys who will work hard to undermine your case. In order to best represent your interests and fight for what you are entitled to, contact a skilled personal injury attorney.