Despite how carefully you drive around large trucks, you may still become involved in a truck accident. If so, you likely have a lot of questions concerning your rights and how to pinpoint the at-fault party and make a full physical and financial recovery. Rather than live with doubt and confusion after a harrowing ordeal, educate yourself on truck accidents with help from Norris Injury Lawyers.
Understanding Common Reasons for Truck Accidents
After a truck accident, you probably wonder how the collision happened. Understanding the reason for the car damage and physical injury you endure also helps build your legal case.
Sometimes, motorists do not drive safely around large trucks, which means another driver’s careless actions could cause you to become involved in an accident.
Specific motor vehicle driver maneuvers that may trigger truck accidents include:
- Driving in blind spots where truck drivers cannot see other vehicles around them
- Shifting lanes directly in front of a truck
- Over- or underestimating a truck’s speed at an intersection and making a left turn in front of the massive vehicle
- Driving on a truck’s right side while the truck maneuvers into a right turn
- Forcing a truck to slam on its brakes or swerve to avoid a driver merging into traffic incorrectly
- Passing a truck without enough headway
- Driving between two large trucks
All drivers must make themselves aware of the right way to handle themselves around large trucks. Otherwise, they may put others’ lives at risk.
Truck Driver Error
Much like motorists, truck drivers make mistakes that endanger smaller vehicles. If companies do not train truck drivers on proper defensive driving, driving techniques and safety concerns, drivers may take to the roads and endanger others.
Sometimes, companies offer truck drivers incentives, which may encourage them to drive faster than necessary or not take as many breaks as they should. When that happens, truckers may drive while fatigued or use illegal substances to stay awake and alert, either of which may cause a collision. Some employers also set unrealistic expectations for their drivers, which may cause them to ignore safety standards. When a truck has several service violations, it becomes an “out-of-service” truck. That means it has issues such as bald tires, malfunctioning brakes or dangerously heavy loads. Rather than take these vehicles in for maintenance, some companies keep them on the road. Employers have a responsibility to train their drivers on how to check for and address violations and require them to conduct thorough inspections before hitting the road.
While a common cause of truck accidents, bad weather does not account for the reason for many accidents. For instance, while driving on icy, wet or snowy roads, truck drivers must slow down. Rather than the weather itself triggering an accident, the reason for a collision could be that the driver did not follow the latest federal law regarding truck driver behavior in inclement weather.
Understanding Liability in Truck Accidents
As with any personal injury suit, plaintiffs must determine which party bears liability for their injuries. One unique aspect of truck accidents is several parties could bear fault for an accident:
- The truck maintenance company
- The truck driver
- The truck driver’s employer
- The cargo loader and owner
- The truck’s owner
A truck accident may become even more complicated if the driver works as an independent contractor who owns her or his truck.
Truck Driver Negligence
If the truck driver sped, ran a red light or otherwise made an error and harmed you, you could file a personal injury lawsuit or insurance claim to recover damages. Even if the driver showed negligence, you could also have a case against the trucking company.
When trucking companies claim their drivers operate as independent contractors, a truck accident victim’s most favorable option is to do some digging to determine how much control the company has over the driver’s actions. Victims and their legal teams may also want to look into how a trucking company compensates drivers and who covers the truck’s insurance, permit and registration.
Trucking Company Negligence
Trucking companies may bear liability for accidents if the truck driver acted as an employee at the time of the accident for the company’s advantage. You and your legal representative may focus on the work the company hired the truck driver for, the employee’s intentions when the collision happened and the freedom the driver has. You could also look into the location, nature and time of the driver’s behavior.
Cargo Loader and Shipper Negligence
When contractor carriers ship cargo for businesses, the trucking company may not see sealed cargo while transporting it. If an employee fails to load or secure cargo properly, that person could bear the blame for a trucking accident.
Local Government Negligence
When streets have pavement in need of repair, flawed designs or pooled rainwater, the local government or its contractors could bear the blame for truck accidents. The same applies if a damaged guardrail, poor warning signs or poor work-zone setup causes a car accident.
Multiple Defendant Negligence
Evidence could show multiple parties bear responsibility for the truck accident. If so, the responsible parties may only bear responsibility for the percentage of damages they caused, or they could all bear equal responsibility for your damages.
For instance, perhaps the truck driver drove while fatigued, and maybe a manufacturer released faulty tires that did not allow the driver to stop in time before hitting you. In this case, you could have a case against the tire manufacturer and the driver. The responsible parties must decide their individual share of fault.
Gathering Evidence for Truck Accidents
To improve your chances of securing damages from the at-fault parties, you must have sufficient evidence. Common sources of evidence in truck accidents include driving logs, electronic logging devices and government agencies.
By checking the driver’s log, you and your legal team could confirm whether the driver adhered to the latest state and federal regulations concerning rest periods.
Electronic Logging Devices
Electronic logging devices and event data recorders log details such as the truck’s route, speed, mileage, hours of service and braking. You may also gather evidence from GPS devices, onboard computers and inclinometers.
According to state and federal law, an official truck inspector must examine all commercial trucks involved in collisions before authorities remove the vehicle from the accident scene. The inspector’s report includes the state of the truck’s vital mechanical components. Law enforcement does not include this report as part of its police report after an accident. That means you must request a copy from a government agency.
Explaining Damages in Truck Accidents
Another essential aspect of truck accident lawsuits is how much you stand to recover in damages. Examples of common big rig damages include:
- Economic damages, which include rehabilitation and health care bills, loss of earning capacity, car damage and loss of earnings
- Non-economic damages, for your emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and disfigurement
- Punitive damages, which act as a punishment for the at-fault party and a deterrent for anyone else thinking of engaging in similar irresponsible behavior
Work with your legal team to recover as much as possible in damages.
Contact Us Today
You deserve answers to your questions regarding truck accidents and information about your legal options. Schedule a free consultation with a Norris Injury Lawyers representative by calling us at 800-477-7510.