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Accidents can be quite nerve-wracking regardless of the magnitude. But if unfortunately, you end up in an accident with a freight truck, it can be even more stressful and difficult to deal with. Not only can it injure you seriously, but it can also leave your vehicles in shambles. It might be difficult to think of the right thing to do in the aftermath of such an accident, but we can tell you right away that calling a personal injury lawyer should definitely be at the top of that list.

Did you know that truck drivers cover an average distance of 140 billion miles every year in the United States, and the nature of the work can cause severe fatigue which can lead to crashes and accidents? What’s more, there are many other factors that directly or indirectly cause accidents – most of them arising due to the negligence of the driver. Here are some of the basic things that you should understand about truck accident law so that you can navigate such a situation with more ease:

What is Truck Accident Law?

Truck Accident Law is a specific subset of personal injury law that includes regulations that are applicable in the event of a collision with an 18-wheeler freight truck, also known as a “big rig”. The legal liability in such an accident is based on the doctrine of negligence, and the owner of the commercial truck is liable to pay any damages occurring from it.

The Truck Accident Law covers the personal injuries arising out of the accident, and the negligent driver i.e. the driver, is held accountable. Several sets of laws such as traffic laws, and civil liability rules are also applicable in such a scenario. Such accidents take place more often than people think considering the major difference between an 18-wheeler truck and a regular passenger car.

Causes and Contributing Factors

There are many obvious differences between a large freight truck and a regular passenger car, including the ride height, driver field of mission, and stopping distance among other factors. More importantly, the income and financial incentives of commercial truck drivers rely heavily on their ability to cover large distances in short spans of time, which often leads to disregarding for other drivers on the road.

There are many factors that can contribute to a significant rise in the number of commercial truck accidents. Some of the common ones include drivers being too tired, or being under the influence of psychoactive drugs or alcohol. Around 6% of drivers involved in fatal accidents tested positive for having at least one drug in their system. Moreover, other factors such as aggressive driving, carrying unsafe cargo, going beyond the speed limit also are common causes for truck accidents.

Example:

A truck driver has recently been sued by Tom, a car driver who suffered major injuries as a result of being in an accident with the former. It was found that when the accident took place, the truck driver had been driving for the 2nd consecutive day with just 2-3 hours of sleep. His drowsiness caused poor judgment on his part while taking a wide turn and ended up causing an accident with Tom.

The plaintiff here will try to prove that the driver was not in the right condition to drive, and should have avoided being on the road for the sake of his own and others’ safety. Unless the defendant is able to prove otherwise, this case will likely end up in the defendant having to pay a hefty settlement to Tom for the damages and injuries that he incurred because of the accident.

Liable Parties

Identifying and proving the accountability of the liable parties is one of the first steps towards building a robust personal injury lawsuit. Once the theory of liability is established, the plaintiff will argue on the grounds of negligence, which requires them to prove that any other careful and prudent driver in the defendant’s position would have been warier and never have been in this accident.

There are other legal aspects that can also be considered in such a case. For instance, if the truck driver had a history of substance abuse that the employer was aware of, they may be held accountable, under the doctrine of vicarious liability. This doctrine can be applied otherwise as well, which holds the employer accountable for the accident caused.

While it is natural for victims of a truck accident to feel that the driver is the only party that should be held responsible, a more diligent approach
would be to consider all the other parties that may be indirectly involved in it as well. Doing a comprehensive review of these parties and naming them in your lawsuit is one of the best ways to ensure that you have built a strong personal injury lawsuit.

Collecting Evidence and Damages

Another important factor about truck accidents that need to be considered, but can often get ignored unless you have immediate legal counsel, is the importance of collecting all kinds of evidence related to it. As is asserted multiple times in this article, your claim holds very little value unless you have evidence to back it up.

In order to present a strong case, the plaintiff should be able to show the extent of damages or injuries caused to them due to the accident by the means of expert witnesses and authorized reports. Only then, the liability of the defendant will be considered and proven in the legal sense. In case of major truck accidents, this can mean that the plaintiff will need to revisit the accident scene and ensure that no other natural factors contributed to the accident. Moreover, any damages caused to the public property through the accident can also be helpful in proving the extent of damages that you are trying to establish.

The plaintiff can also produce other forms of evidence such as proof of income loss, or medical opinions and tests that might have been generated as a result of the injuries incurred through the accident. Having testimonies from expert witnesses can be another great way to ensure that the plaintiff is able to corroborate the events and details related to the accident. Having physical evidence such as receipts of the repairs required for your vehicle and photographs/videos of the damages post the accident can also be important evidence that can strengthen your lawsuit.

The Verdict

In conclusion, it is always good to have basic knowledge of the kind of things involved in a truck accident in order to take the right steps in case you are in one. While the rules applying to them are not that different from those on car crashes, commercial freight truck accidents generally involve more liable parties and the lawsuit can be a tedious process.

Moreover, identifying the liable parties and then proving that the accident took place as a result of negligence is another major task to accomplish. But most importantly, it is important to gather and present evidence that can work in your favor, and prove that the defendant was indeed guilty. To accomplish this, it is highly recommended that you hire a professional personal injury lawyer who can help you get compensation, and avoid common mistakes that people make after an accident.