No, it is not always true that truck drivers are always at fault for truck accidents. Depending on how a truck accident occurs, the responsibility for it may lie with the:
- Another motorist
- Truck driver
- Truck owner
- Operator of a trucking business
- Service or maintenance crew responsible for truck repairs and upkeep
- Company responsible for packing and loading a truck’s cargo
- Truck’s manufacturer
- Company responsible for a part that failed on the truck (e.g., failed brakes)
- Local town or municipality responsible for road repairs if road damage caused or contributed to the truck accident
- Motorist involved in the crash
Commercial truck accidents can be more complex than car accidents for various reasons, including that several parties could bear responsibility. A truck accident attorney with the Fitch Law Firm LLC will review the details of your Columbus, Ohio-area truck crash to identify liability and determine who should pay your damages. A free consultation with us can clarify the legal options you have.
The Complexities of Determining Liability in Truck Accidents
If you have been in an accident with a commercial truck in the Ohio area, you may be wondering who is responsible for covering your damages. If multiple parties played a role in the wreck, we will help you file your claims or lawsuits against all of them for the compensation you are due. However, the issue is determining who is liable and by how much, which could take time to investigate.
Fault and liability in trucking accident cases are determined by the causes of the accident in question. Because semi-truck accidents can occur in many ways, the truck driver may not necessarily be implicated or at fault, as noted above. However, the following are a few examples of how different parties could have a role in the collision.
The Truck Driver
If a trucker speeds, drives aggressively, does not follow road signs, or drives negligently in any way, they may be at fault for any accident they cause. They can also be liable for a collision if they were driving while distracted, tired, or impaired due to drug or alcohol use.
Even a truck driver’s medical condition can cause or contribute to a road accident. Any of these can:
- Cause the driver to exercise poor judgment
- Affect the driver’s ability to control a truck
- Lead to delayed reactions
Conditions like these make it difficult for a truck driver to avoid an accident.
The Trucking Company
A truck owner or a freight business operator may share liability for an accident if poor hiring practices, inadequate driver training, or unsafe driving rules caused or contributed to an accident. One example includes pushing drivers to overwork and meet tight deadlines. In addition, failure to conduct proper and thorough background checks on drivers can also contribute to accidents.
The Truck’s Owner
Trucks must be inspected and serviced regularly, but according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a lack of maintenance is a leading cause of truck crashes. If failure to service a truck causes a wreck, a service or maintenance team may be at fault, not the driver.
The Cargo Loading Company or the Truck’s Manufacturer
The same applies to crashes caused by cargo issues or vehicle parts malfunctions. A cargo loading team or a vehicle parts manufacturer may be at fault if the accident was caused by cargo that was not properly loaded or there was a mechanical failure, such as the brakes failing.
Our lawyer will investigate your accident with a truck to determine what happened. Once we can accurately determine who is responsible and how the accident occurred, we can help you file your claim or lawsuit.
Truck Drivers Are At Fault For Truck Accidents When They Break the Law
One of the clearest ways to determine liability is by proving that the truck driver broke the law or committed a traffic violation that endangered you. Here are some common violations that may indicate fault in your accident case:
- Speeding. Large trucks have longer braking times due to the added weight of the vehicle and cargo. As speeding already increases braking time, it can make it difficult if not impossible to brake in time to avoid hazards.
- Distracted driving. Driving while distracted may look like using navigation tools, texting or talking on the phone, or eating and drinking while driving. Your attorneys can gather difficult-to-find evidence like phone records to demonstrate this kind of negligence.
- Aggressive driving. Brake-checking, tailgating, swerving, and honking incessantly are all indications of aggressive driving. This kind of behavior increases the likelihood of a collision.
- Driving under the influence. Whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol, cannabis, prescription medication, or a mixture of substances, they were inhibited in their driving capabilities. Driving under the influence is a serious offense that may also result in criminal charges for the at-fault driver.
- Driving poorly for the weather. All drivers must drive with supreme caution in poor weather, including slowing down, using the right headlamps, and not using cruise control in wet conditions.
- Improper monitoring or signaling. Large trucks have even larger blind spots than typical cars. Because of this, they need to be aware of their blindspots, signal appropriately, and be constantly aware of their surroundings to avoid an accident.
If the truck driver committed these or other violations that caused your truck accident, your attorneys can gather evidence to support your claims.
Ohio Law Limits Your Time to Take Legal Action
If you are considering taking legal action against the parties who caused your truck crash, you are encouraged to do so as soon as possible. As outlined in Ohio Revised Code § 2305.10, you have only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit. This deadline begins counting down from the date of the collision.
If you lost a loved one and wish to file a wrongful death action, you also have two years to file it, starting from the date of their death.
We Can Start on Your Case Now Without Any Upfront Fees
We offer a free initial consultation where you can learn about your legal options. We can explain any state or federal laws that apply to your case and whether the accident entitles you to financial recovery. We are a contingency firm, which means we can start on your case right away without charging any upfront fees.
We get paid only if we recover compensation for you, and our payment is an agreed-upon percentage that we take from your settlement or court award. You can learn more by calling our team today.
Recoverable Damages You May Seek After a Trucking Accident in Ohio
If you have been in an accident with an 18-wheeler or other large vehicle, you could recover economic and non-economic damages. Both types are common in these cases.
Economic damages are damages we can document with receipts, invoices, records, and other paperwork. These include:
- Your medical and rehabilitation expenses
- Lost wages and other work benefits
- Lost or reduced earning capacity
- Property damage, including your car repair or replacement
- Other accident-related expenses
Your non-economic damages are subjective and harder to prove as they do not come with documentation. Still, they are important, as they affect the quality of your life and well-being. A truck accident attorney with the Fitch Law Firm LLC can assess your non-economic damages and assign a value to each one. These damages often include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Disability and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
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How Our Truck Accident Lawyer Can Help with Your Case
Working with a truck accident attorney has immediate benefits. When you secure legal representation, you will have someone on your side looking out for your interests. You also will have an attorney advocating for your recovery who knows state and federal laws and how they apply to the case. When you become our client, we will:
- Investigate how your truck accident happened
- Review your evidence, and gather other evidence to prove the case (e.g., photos, video, police report, results of any DUI tests given to the truck driver)
- Issue a spoliation letter to order the truck company to preserve evidence we need to review (e.g., the driver’s logbook, the driver’s employment and training history)
- Interview eyewitnesses and seek expert witness testimony, such as from an accident reconstructionist
- Name all liable and at-fault parties in your accident
- Build a strong case for compensation against the responsible party or parties
- Represent you in all meetings and handle communication with all parties, including the truck company’s lawyer and/or insurer
- Gather evidence that testifies to the extent of your injuries and other losses
- Initiate negotiations for a fair settlement that compensates you for your losses
- File a lawsuit with the civil court by the deadline if we do not reach a settlement
- Take the case to trial to recover a financial award, if necessary
- Answer all your questions and concerns
- Keep you updated regularly on all case developments.
The Fitch Law Firm LLC is not afraid of taking on large trucking companies to fight for clients.
Truck Crashes Can Lead to Fatalities and Severe Property Damage for Victims
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 4,800 large trucks were involved in fatal accidents in 2020. The vast majority of fatalities in truck accidents—more than three-quarters of all recorded fatalities—were occupants of other vehicles, such as smaller passenger cars and SUVs per the Insurance Information Institute (III). Most fatal truck accidents occur on weekdays during regular work hours.
According to PBS NewsHour, vehicle accidents lead to $871 billion in damages every year. The overall economic costs of vehicle accidents in the United States can also lead to lost business productivity, medical treatment expenses, lost income, vehicle damage, and other related expenses.
Truck Type Can Play a Critical Role in how Severe a Crash is
Determining how and why a truck accident occurred is an essential first step in
identifying who is at fault. Trucks come in various types and designs, and they can be involved in different kinds of collisions.
Common truck types include:
- Big rigs, semi-tractors, and 18-wheelers: The NHTSA reports that 78% of truck accident fatalities involved large trucks such as these.
- Cargo trucks that haul freight: These trucks can carry anything from clothing and food to toxic chemicals and hazardous substances.
- Construction trucks: Construction trucks are used to carry construction materials, such as cement, steel, or lumber. Trucks like bulldozers, forklifts, and backhoes are also used for construction work.
- Smaller trucks: Smaller trucks include delivery vans and garbage trucks, which can cause traffic fatalities, especially to pedestrians and children.
Types of Truck Collisions
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were close to 5,200 work-related deaths in the United States in 2021. People employed in the trucking industry had the highest number of fatalities of any single group. Driving and working with trucks can be dangerous and expose truckers and other workers to accidents, such as:
- Jackknifing, which is when the cab of a truck pivots too far, usually during a turn, causing the driver to lose control
- Frontal and rear-end accidents, which can occur if a driver loses control of the truck, drives while distracted or intoxicated, drives with worn brakes, collides with road debris, drives on slippery surfaces, or experiences a tire blowout
- Underride accidents, which can occur if a driver stops suddenly or a truck’s rear brake lights malfunction
- Rollover accidents, which can occur if a driver takes a turn at too high a speed or loses control of the truck due to a vehicle malfunction
- Cargo accidents, which can occur if cargo is not adequately secured to the truck’s bed or a truck is overloaded or carries unwieldy cargo
Call a Truck Accident Attorney at the Fitch Law Firm LLC Today for a Free Case Review
A negligent truck driver may have caused your accident, but they are not always at fault, which is why it is essential to look at all parties and factors in a collision to determine who is responsible for the victim’s damages.
Call the Fitch Law Firm LLC today for a free consultation with our legal team in Columbus. You can learn more about your rights and how securing legal representation could help your case.
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