Truck Accident Law: How to Establish Who is at Fault in a Trucking Accident
If you or a family member has been injured by a commercial truck as a result of negligence, the driver as well as the trucking company that employs him or her may be liable for your damages. Your case will depend on your ability to prove that the other parties are responsible for your injuries. Because of this, it is essential to hire an attorney immediately after your accident so that they can thoroughly investigate the circumstances and collect all the appropriate evidence. It is normal for trucking companies to repair their vehicles as soon as possible to get them back on the road; additionally, some businesses have been known to delete data and record over vital videos before it can be determined who is at fault.
Establishing liability in a truck accident claim is often accomplished by proving negligence. This can be done in numerous ways, and your attorney must decide which approach will be the most successful given the specifics of your accident. The four elements to proving negligence in any legal matter are duty (of the driver and the truck company to exercise reasonable care), breach (failure to do so), causation (that the driver or truck company’s actions directly caused your injuries or property damage), and damages (that you were in fact harmed or injured).
Negligence on the Part of the Truck Driver
One way to prove negligence is to show that the truck driver behaved in a way that was against the law. This could mean the driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, including prescription medications. Or the driver could have been fatigued from failing to follow the regulations that control how long commercial drivers can safely remain behind the wheel (read our post on Truck Accident Law: Understanding Federal and State Regulations). Other potentially illegal actions include speeding, making a dangerous lane change, not checking blind spots, or other violations of traffic laws.
Negligence on the Part of the Trucking Company
In some cases, a truck accident claim can involve proving negligence on the part of the carrier company. Commercial trucking companies must follow the complete set of rules set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, and the individual rules of each state in which they operate vehicles. Complying with all the guidelines requires a substantial amount of time and oversight; when small or poorly managed companies fall behind in keeping up with the regulations, the fallout can include unsafe fleet conditions, driving schedules, and high-risk operators. This is a breach of their legal duty and puts other drivers at serious risk.
For example, if a carrier fails to regularly inspect and perform maintenance on its fleet, and one of the trucks causes a collision due to faulty brakes, the carrier could be found negligent and therefore liable for any injuries resulting from the accident. Other potential ways a commercial trucking company might behave negligently include engaging in improper cargo loading practices, skipping background checks before hiring drivers, failing to properly train drivers or to ensure that comply with federal regulations, or exerting pressure on their drivers to complete deliveries in unrealistic timeframes.
If you or someone you love has been in a commercial trucking accident, you may have many questions about your legal options. Vinas and Deluca has significant experience representing clients who have been injured by commercial vehicles. Give us a call today.