Establishing Fault in a Truck Accident
One of the most terrifying things anyone can encounter on the road is an out of control truck. A commercial truck has the mass to crush most other vehicles on the road.
While commercial truck accidents are not as common as passenger vehicle accidents, the results are more deadly. When carrying a full load, big rigs can weigh more than 80,000 pounds. Compare this to the average 3,000-pound passenger vehicle and the danger is obvious.
In one recent year, about 450,000 crashes involved large trucks throughout the United States, and over 4,000 of those accidents involved a fatality. Almost 350,000 caused injuries. Of the fatalities occurring in commercial truck accidents, the most frequent victims were the occupants of passenger vehicles.
Read on to understand who might be at fault for a truck accident, how you can recover damages from the responsible entity, and the best ways a truck accident lawyer can help you prove when they’re at fault.
One of the most critical components of a successful damages claim after a car accident is compiling evidence proving that one or more other parties were at fault for the accident. Many parties may bear responsibility for an accident with a commercial truck.
The Truck Driver
If the other driver failed to follow the rules of the road, this is a clear sign of negligence. Truck drivers are also subject to state and federal regulations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations imposes many regulations that truck drivers must follow, including:
- The obligation to secure a Commercial Driver’s License;
- Parameters around the number of hours drivers can spend on the road at a time;
- Stringent standards around alcohol consumption; and
- Maintenance obligations.
If the truck driver failed to comply with any of these obligations, that failure may have contributed to the accident, making them at fault.
The Truck Driver’s Employer
If the truck driver works for a company, that company may also be at fault. If they failed to adhere to proper hiring practices that allowed an unqualified driver on the road, this likely contributed to the accident. They also may have neglected to establish appropriate policies around maintenance. It is important to investigate any way the employer may have acted negligently but to recover from the employer, you must show that the driver was acting in the normal course of their employment at the time of the accident.
The Truck Manufacturer
Commercial trucks are complicated vehicles, and any malfunction can have a serious impact. If any part of the truck failed to operate appropriately, you may pursue compensation from the manufacturer for their failure to properly assemble the vehicle.
Determining which parties may bear responsibility for the accident can be a complicated analysis. An attorney can help you consider all angles and ensure you have sufficient evidence for proving fault.
Recovering for Your Injuries
It is important to establish fault so that you can pursue recovery from the responsible parties for your damages. Depending on the extent and nature of your injuries, there are several categories of damages you should consider, potentially including:
- Medical expenses: In addition to obvious medical costs like doctors’ bills and hospital costs, you may also recover for the cost of your future medical needs, like long-term rehabilitation.
- Loss of income: Your injuries and medical appointments may cause you to miss work, and you should recover for these lost wages. If your injuries will affect your ability to perform certain job duties or work full-time in the future, you may recover for the lost future earnings.
- Property damage: If your car or other property was damaged, you should recover for repair or replacements.
- Emotional distress: You may suffer from emotional trauma like PTSD, anxiety, or depression after the accident.
- Loss of enjoyment: If you cannot participate in activities you previously enjoyed, you should be compensated for this loss.
An attorney can help you calculate these amounts and involve experts as needed.
After an accident, your truck accident lawyer can help you compile evidence of fault and ensure you can recover compensation from the responsible entity. First and foremost, make sure you secure immediate medical attention. Don’t brush off medical attention in the flurry of activity after an accident. You may have an injury that is not immediately apparent, and delay will only cause it to get worse. Additionally, failure to secure quick medical attention may limit your ability to recover damages for your injuries.
After you have seen to your physical health, there are several additional steps and considerations to keep in mind after a truck accident:
- Document the scene. It will be important to have extensive evidence of the scene of the accident. This documentation will prove important later when you are trying to prove fault. One way to ensure sufficient documentation is to secure a police report. A police report will include pictures of the scene, witness information, and any citations that were issued for violations of traffic laws. If for some reason you can’t get a police report, do your best to collect this information yourself.
- Watch what you say. Police, witnesses, insurance companies, and the press may pepper you with questions after the accident. Be cautious about what you say. Be sure to avoid any statement that could imply you were in any way responsible for the accident. Something as innocent as a statement like “I’m so clumsy!” could be used against you. The more people you talk to, the more likely it is that you will be caught making an inconsistent statement.
- Keep track of paperwork. You may find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork you receive after the accident. This could include medical bills, documentation, insurance paperwork, or evidence of time off work due to injuries. These documents will all be necessary as you pursue recovery for your injuries, so be sure to keep them organized. Also be sure to read any paperwork before you sign it. Avoid signing any document that makes statements you don’t agree with, waives your ability to claim certain injuries, or limits your opportunity to file a lawsuit.
While you can take all of the above steps on your own, a skilled truck accident attorney can help ensure you are on the path to a full recovery for your injuries.
A truck accident is a stressful experience that will likely leave a huge impact on your life. If you have questions about the best way to proceed, contact an experienced truck accident attorney.