Semi-trucks are an essential part of society because they are responsible for transporting goods around the country. Although semis are extremely important, they may also be dangerous for the drivers as well as the other drivers on the road. A semi-truck is large and the average weight of a loaded trailer is about 80,000 pounds, so being involved in an accident with a semi can easily result in severe injuries. If you sustain injuries or a fatality occurs due to an accident with a truck and negligence resulted in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other legal damages. Here is how your accident lawyer will prove negligence caused the crash.
Understanding What Negligence Is
In order to prove the cause of a truck accident was negligence, it is important to first understand what negligence is. Proving negligence is often an overwhelming, time-consuming task, so if you have been injured in a crash with a semi-truck, it is essential that you contact an accident attorney as soon as possible following the accident. There are basically four essential elements of a negligence cause of action:
- The driver of the semi-truck owed the victim a duty of care, which means the truck driver had a duty to the victim to operate their truck in a reasonable and safe manner
- Breach of duty, meaning the actions of the truck driver or the truck driver’s employer/employee breached the duty of care
- Causation, which means the breach of duty caused injuries (minor, serious, or fatal), emotional trauma, financial losses, lost income, vehicle damage, long-term pain and suffering, disability, and/or burial expenses
- Damages, meaning the truck accident resulted in injuries, economic damages, non-economic damages, punitive damages, and/or wrongful death damages
Example of Trucker Negligence in an Accident
A truck driver is considered to be negligent if something is done that violates the expected duty of care, typically causing injuries. Some of the most common examples of semi-truck driver negligence may include:
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- HOS violations (hours of service)
- Distracted driving
- Improper lane changes
- Improper training
- Traffic violations, such as failure to stop at a traffic light or a stop sign
- Failure to inspect and maintain vehicle
- The trailer was improperly loaded
- Improper documentation
Proving Negligence in Semi-Truck Accidents
Proving negligence may sometimes be as simple as proving a violation of the law, or it may be more difficult, such as providing a reconstruction of the accident by experts that testify about the actions of the truck driver. It is important to note that a truck accident is much different than an automobile accident because there are often more entities involved than simply the vehicles and the drivers of the vehicles. The party responsible for the accident may be someone other than the driver. The responsible party may include:
- The semi-truck driver-The driver of the semi may be liable if they did something that was negligent, such as driving while distracted, speeding, or falling asleep at the wheel. Your accident attorney will review all evidence and document relating to the accident, including police reports, witness statements, and other documentation to determine if the truck driver was negligent.
- The trucking company-It is the responsibility of the trucking company to ensure their vehicles are safe on the road. If the truck company fails to provide repairs or proper maintenance on their trucks, the owner of the trucking company may be held responsible for the negligence leading up to the accident. For instance, if the company failed to repair or replace failing brakes and the brakes fail, causing a collision, this may be considered negligence by the trucking company.
- Manufacturer-The manufacturer of the semi-truck may be negligent. If a manufacturing defect caused the crash and your injuries, the manufacturer of the truck or a component of the truck the manufacturer could be considered negligent. In some situations, your attorney may file a product liability claim.
There are several forms of negligence and to prove your case, you and your attorney must show that the party responsible for your injuries was negligent. Trucking companies have a lot more resources than many others when it comes to defending the actions of the company and its drivers. The truck company’s insurance provider will generally act quickly to have an adjuster and an investigator sent to the scene of an accident. It is extremely important that you also have someone on your side doing the same thing.
Insurance companies have one primary goal and that is to offer the lowest compensation possible, so it is extremely important that you not talk with the trucking companies insurance provider until you first talk with an accident attorney. An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to analyze how the crash occurred as well as determine the actual cause of the crash. Your attorney will gather a lot of information pertaining to the accident, including police reports, witness statements, your medical bills, and medical care statements to help prove that negligence contributed to the accident and your injuries.