Negligence is determined in truck accidents by using video footage or pictures of an accident, witness statements, and the official police report to prove who was involved and what kind of accident occurred. Other forms of evidence may also support your claim that the truck driver was negligent, such as:
- Cell phone records
- The truck driver’s driving logs
- The truck driver’s blood test results
- The truck’s GPS tracking data
- Vehicle maintenance logs
- The trucking company’s training and/or hiring reports
- The truck driver’s medication use, including any prescriptions that might cause drowsiness.
A Lawyer Can Help Prove Negligence in a Truck Accident Case
If you were injured by a commercial truck, your attorney can help establish the fault of the liable party. An experienced truck accident attorney will know exactly what to look for when attempting to prove liability.
One of the first actions they will take after you hire them will be to investigate your accident with the aim of gathering evidence to support your claim and proving the negligence of the at-fault party.
Who Can Be Held Responsible for Negligence in a Truck Accident?
A person pursuing a negligence case after a truck accident might be able to hold multiple parties responsible. Truck drivers are not always liable for an accident. In some cases, other parties can be at fault for a crash along with the driver. These include parties not on the scene, such as:
- The company that employs the truck driver
- The company that owns or leases the truck
- A truck manufacturer
- A truck parts manufacturer
- The truck’s maintenance crew
- Other road users, such as other drivers, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians
The case can quickly become complicated when multiple parties are liable for a crash. This is why some truck accident victims hire legal representation to ensure their cases receive the proper care.
A truck negligence attorney with our firm will investigate the collision and determine all parties that can be held liable. He or she will seek compensation from each party after establishing their role in the collision.
Establishing Negligence in Truck Accident Cases Involves Four Key Elements
Establishing negligence in a truck accident involves four elements.
Duty of Care
The first step involves proving that the party you hold responsible for the truck accident had a duty to act with a certain amount of care and competence. If you drive on the road, you have a duty to drive safely and in accordance with driving laws. This is known as a driver’s “duty of care.”
Failure to Uphold the Duty of Care
The second step involves proving that the party failed to uphold their duty of care in some way. There are many ways this can happen, as we discuss below.
Failure of Duty of Care Caused Your Accident
The third step involves establishing a connection between the negligent party’s actions and the accident. In other words, you must prove that because of the negligent party’s actions, an accident occurred or that an accident would likely not have occurred if the at-fault party was not negligent in fulfilling their duty of care.
You Suffered Damages
The final step involves substantiating that you suffered compensatory losses or damages from the accident.
You Also Need to Determine What Caused the Truck Accident
To determine which party or parties may be at fault for an accident, you must first determine how the accident was caused. If negligence was involved, you can potentially seek compensation for all your relevant damages from the liable party or parties.
Negligence can lead to truck accidents in many ways. The following can be considered negligent in a truck accident case:
- Driving while distracted, such as from texting or eating
- Driving while fatigued
- Driving recklessly or aggressively
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving without proper licenses, approvals, training, or experience
- Failing to service and/or maintain your vehicle, replace worn brakes, ensure lights and mirrors are working, and that your vehicle is roadworthy
- Carelessly loading cargo, overloading a truck with cargo, or transporting dangerous or hazardous cargo in unsafe containers or without proper care
Victims Could Seek Action Against Government Entities for a Truck Accident
A local town or municipality may also be held responsible for failing to maintain local roads if poor road conditions contributed to your truck accident. The government may be liable for poor road repairs, uneven lanes, slippery surfaces, missing lane markings, and inadequate signage.
Any of the factors above can lead to an accident. Negligence can be determined in a truck accident by connecting any of those factors to the losses and damages you suffered in the accident. As mentioned, when it comes to motor vehicle accidents, road users and vehicle operators are assumed to owe others a duty of care as soon as they get behind the wheel.
So, simply driving on the road may suffice as proof of owing others a duty of care. Using whatever evidence is available to you, if you can prove that a truck driver was driving under the influence, drowsy, distracted, or guilty of another form of negligence, you may be able to hold them liable for your damages.
You may also be able to hold a trucking company accountable for poor hiring practices or a lack of driver training if those factors caused or contributed to an accident.
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A Truck Driver’s Experience Level Can Factor into a Negligence Accident
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that driver experience can affect a driver’s risk of having an accident. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also dictates the safe amount of driving hours for truckers is about 11 hours of driving after 10 hours of rest.
A lack of experience or training or overworking can lead to an accident. Should that occur, a trucker or trucking company may be found negligent for the accident.
There Are Different Levels of Negligence
There are different levels of negligence. If the liable party’s negligence level is high enough, you could be entitled to recover punitive damages. Punitive damages are a means of punishing the liable party for their actions. Punitive damages are awarded in addition to compensatory damages awarded for losses suffered by the accident victim.
Punitive damages are reserved for extreme cases involving a level of negligence termed criminal negligence. If the defendant is deemed to have been criminally negligent in your truck accident case, they will likely face criminal charges for their actions in addition to the civil lawsuit you have brought against them.
Seek Legal Guidance from The Fitch Law Firm After a Big Rig Accident
Our personal injury team is just a call away. The Fitch Law Firm LLC can help you learn more about how negligence is determined in your truck accident. Our big rig negligence attorney can review your situation and outline your options for compensation.
Call today or fill out our online contact form for legal assistance with your truck accident case. We offer a free case evaluation to all prospective clients.
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