Although truck drivers tend to spend more time on the road than automobile drivers and thus may be more experienced, in a traffic accident the sheer size of the vehicles they drive can contribute to catastrophic injury and death. Fully loaded commercial trucks weigh up to 25 times more than a passenger car, sometimes carrying hazardous materials like gasoline or industrial waste, which can cause secondary injuries in a collision. Collecting damages after such a serious accident will depend on establishing fault and identifying as many parties as possible that may share liability.
The human cost of truck accidents
Truck accidents contribute to thousands of deaths on our nation’s roads each year, as well as millions of dollars in catastrophic injury claims and property loss. Fatalities involving Commercial Motor Vehicles stood at 37,133 in 2017, and Texas is among the top ten states with the highest average of fatalities involving commercial motor vehicles and buses.
Successfully holding a truck driver or company liable
The legal hurdle that the injured party must first clear is to prove negligence on the part of the truck driver. He/she must show that the driver, or defendant, had a duty to the exercise of reasonable care to his fellow drivers on the road, that he failed to exercise that duty and that this resulted in injury to the plaintiff.
If the driver works for a shipping or trucking company, then the employer may share liability for the accident. If, on the other hand, the driver is an independent contractor, then the degree of liability of the hiring company will depend on the level of supervision that the company exercised over the driver.
It is important to be aware that the courts may not fault the driver of a large vehicle in some circumstances. Because trucks are prone to jackknifing under slippery road conditions or when forced to stop suddenly, the truck driver will likely not be found negligent if he loses control of the vehicle.
Turning accidents do not always result in a negligence judgement either. The cumbersome size of a large rig requires it to take up two lanes during a right turn, making it sometimes difficult to clearly establish a case of negligence when an accident results. However, drivers still have a standard of care they must abide by – even in these situations, and some courts have found this maneuver can be negligence.
Help filing a personal injury lawsuit
Because of the severity of the injuries and expenses incurred by medical bills and a long convalescence, it is important to gather the facts and get informed advice before accepting an initial settlement offer.