Truck accidents can result in catastrophic injuries and deaths. In 2019 alone, more than 5,000 people died in accidents involving large trucks. This data comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
For victims and their families, it is important to understand the legal process after a truck accident. This guide will walk you through the key steps in dealing with these complex cases.
Understanding the magnitude of truck accidents
According to insurance, 16% of all motor vehicle crash deaths in 2021 involved large trucks Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), Most of the deaths occurred aboard passenger vehicles, not trucks. These incidents highlight the enormity of truck accidents.
These figures are shocking. But understanding the root causes of these accidents can provide clarity. This can also potentially lead to preventive measures. But how complex is the counseling process? truck accident lawyer Is a big help. They know the law regarding these accidents like the back of their hands. Therefore, they can help anyone in reaching beneficial solutions.
Determining Legal Responsibility in Truck Accidents
In the field of vehicle accidents, truck accidents present a unique challenge. Not only do these result in a high percentage of deaths, but determining responsibility can be a complex process. According to the IIHS, in 2019, a staggering 74% of all fatal crashes involving large trucks were multi-vehicle crashes. Although distressed, the parties should try to take photographs of the incident so that the attorneys can Proof to go through.
Complexity arises because an accident often involves multiple parties. Thus, they all share responsibility regarding the incident:
- Truck driver: He may have been negligent in the following cases:
- driving recklessly
- driving unsafely
It is important to determine whether the cause of the accident was the driver’s fault or negligence.
- Trucking Company: As the driver’s employer, they may be vicariously liable for their employee’s actions. This argument falls under the legal doctrine of respondent superior. The company may also have been negligent in the following:
- truck maintenance
- inadequate driver training
- forced to work unsafe hours
- Company that leases the truck: If the truck is leased, the leasing company may share the liability. The issue may arise from improper maintenance or equipment defects.
- Manufacturers: Faulty equipment such as faulty brakes can contribute to an accident. If so, the product manufacturer may share the blame.
- Other motorists: In multi-vehicle accidents, other drivers may have contributed through their own negligence.
- Government agencies: In these cases, the government bodies that oversee those areas may assume responsibility:
- poor road design
- Inappropriate or poorly maintained signage
- other dangers
With so many potentially liable parties, experienced attorneys are needed. They can help investigate defects and handle these complex cases.
Truck driver responsibility: When is the driver at fault?
Although there are several possibilities, the truck driver is usually held partially or completely at fault due to his negligence. Some examples include:
- Speeding or reckless driving: Excessive speed is a major contributor to truck accidents. In 2019, it was a factor in 26% of all traffic deaths. Truck drivers have a duty to operate with caution.
- Distracted driving: Certain activities can distract the driver. Texting, eating, or operating electronic devices can be distracting. These increase the chances of accidents.
- Fatigue or impairment: Some effects can significantly slow reaction time and decision making. Drowsiness, illness, intoxication, and drug-impaired driving are the most common causes. Trucking companies may pressure drivers to work extremely long hours, which can lead to burnout.
- Poor maintenance: Failure to inspect and maintain the vehicle can result in accidents. Brake faults, blown tires and other mechanical problems can be associated with accidents.
- Improper Loading: This refers to unbalanced or shifting cargo that has been improperly loaded. This may affect the stability and handling of the truck.
- Error in judgment: Errors in judgment can be disastrous in cases such as these:
- unsafe turn
This can be devastating, especially when large trucks are involved.
Any of these or other types of negligence may contribute to an accident. When this happens, the driver will likely share fault and legal responsibility. A lawyer will need to thoroughly investigate the specific reasons.
Employer’s Liability: When is the Trucking Company Responsible?
In the complex web of truck accident liability, the role of the trucking company is critical. The legal doctrine of Respondeat Superior can hold employers accountable for the actions of their employees.
For example, there was a rear-end accident case that settled for $210,000. This demonstrated the complexities of determining liability, especially when multiple parties are involved. The truck driver claimed that the accident caused a torn labrum and required surgery. However, the initial insurance offer was only $25,000. This is until they reach the final settlement amount. This example shows that a trucking company can share responsibility.
With such complex details involved in truck accident cases, it is natural for questions to arise. Let’s take a look at some frequently asked questions about the truck accident legal process.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I determine whether the truck driver or the trucking company is at fault?
Determining fault requires understanding the nuances of liability. One also needs to know the factors determining responsibility. Investigating causes such as equipment failure or driver error will shed light on who was negligent. And as a result, they are also the ones to be held accountable. This could be the driver, the company or both.
What if the truck driver was an independent contractor?
If the driver is an independent contractor rather than an employee, the boundaries of liability become a little blurry. The main difference is that the trucking company has less control over the contractors. However, there have been instances of the contractor being negligent “within the scope” of his work duties. Then, the company could potentially share the liability.
How do state and federal regulations affect my truck accident case?
Compliance with regulations is important in the trucking industry. Violations of state or federal regulations, such as limits on hours of service for drivers, can strengthen a negligence case. The outcome of an insurance claim or lawsuit may depend on whether the parties were in violation of important rules.
Seeking Legal Counsel: Why It’s Necessary
Commercial truck accident cases can involve complex issues. It is highly recommended to obtain legal representation. If necessary, a lawyer can guide you in the following:
- insurance claims
- negotiation negotiations
- Representation in court if necessary
They will determine all liable parties. Also prepare the strongest argument for fair compensation under the law. Don’t go through the truck accident legal process alone. Seek counsel to protect your rights and get the maximum recovery possible.
Truck accidents can be devastating with long-lasting consequences. Understanding the legal process is the first step on the path to justice. With the assistance of an attorney, liable parties can be held fully accountable for their actions. Don’t delay seeking legal help after a truck accident. Your physical and financial recovery depends on it.