Proving Liability in a Truck Accident
The commercial truck industry provides contributions to our economy by transporting much-needed equipment, supplies, and other materials. Without truckers, business owners would not be able to order the items they need to keep their company running. However, the trucking industry is known for pressuring their truck drivers to make unrealistic delivery deadlines. This is their way of maximizing their profit margins. With such impractical expectations, this can increase the risk of an accident when a trucker is forced to work extended hours without sufficient rest or speed along the highway to meet those deadlines. When this happens, a person who is injured in a truck accident will have to prove liability on the part of the trucker or trucking company to recover compensation for their injuries and losses.
Burden of Proof in a Truck Accident Case
A thorough investigation of the truck accident is necessary to determine who is financially responsible for resulting injuries and damages. In most cases, the following parties are generally liable:
- Cargo Handler: The goods that a commercial truck was transporting may have played a role in the crash. If the items were not properly secured by the cargo handler, they could cause the 18-wheeler to shift and lose control, resulting in a collision.
- Trucker: Negligence on the part of the truck driver is often involved in a semi-truck crash. Driving while fatigued, failing to look both ways before entering an intersection, distracted driving, or speeding commonly contribute to these collisions.
- Trucking Company: A motor carrier is responsible for the safe operation of the truck and driving behaviors of the truckers. Some motor carriers fail to keep up with routine truck maintenance while others pressure their drivers to break the rules to make delivery deadlines. Any of these reasons can prove a trucking company’s fault in an accident.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
When a trucking company or truck driver is negligent, their careless actions can cause unsuspecting pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers to suffer catastrophic injuries. These include:
- Bone Fractures: The extreme forces involved in a crash with a large truck can cause a person to sustain a bone fracture. There are two types of fractures, simple or compound. A simple fracture does not break the skin. Instead, it is a closed fracture that causes a crack in the bone. Conversely, a compound fracture causes a break in the bone that pierces through the skin.
- Brain and Head Injuries: A sudden jolt of a crash or a blow to the head can cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is common when a passenger vehicle is rear-ended by a big rig. Severe TBI can cause permanent changes in the injured person’s cognitive and physical abilities.
- Cervical Sprain: The overwhelming forces involved in a collision with a large truck can cause a person’s neck and head to snap forward and stretch backward. This motion may sprain and strain the tendons, joints, ligaments, and muscles in the neck. While cervical sprain may be treated within a few weeks, some with this condition may develop severe complications or chronic pain.
- Emotional Suffering: Suffering a catastrophic injury in a trucking accident is devastating. This can cause immense psychological damage such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Internal Trauma: Penetrating or blunt trauma in a trucking crash can cause damage to internal organs such as the kidneys, stomach, liver or heart. Fractures of the sternum or ribs can cause pieces of bone to pierce into the organs. Internal bleeding and ruptured organs usually require immediate medical intervention to treat. This type of trauma can cause an individual to suffer an infection or go into shock, which can result in wrongful death in some cases.
- Spinal Cord Damage: The sudden movement or blunt trauma to the back in a collision can tear the spinal cord or break the vertebrae of the spine. This can cause a loss of mobility and ongoing pain despite extensive treatment and surgical repair. In some cases, spinal cord damage can cause incomplete or complete paralysis. Someone who is paralyzed may regain some sensation or movement through intense therapy, depending on the extent of the trauma.
Types of Compensation in a Trucking Accident Case
Compensation in a truck accident case will depend on the type and severity of injuries suffered. It may include reimbursement for economic and noneconomic damages such as past and future medical expenses, past and future wage loss, loss of consortium, disfigurement, and pain and suffering. A claim for punitive damages may be filed if the incident was caused by an egregious act such as driving under the influence. This type of damage is not intended to compensate those injured in the crash. Instead, it punishes the responsible party as a way of preventing them from conducting similar behavior in the future.
How Do You Deal with Insurance After a Truck Accident?
After a trucking collision, an adjuster from the trucking company’s insurance may reach out to you. Although they may seem friendly during the call, they do not have your best interests in mind. Even if the insurance company offers compensation to help pay for your medical expenses, they probably will not compensate you fairly for your lost earning potentials, pain and suffering, and other damages. Regardless of how sympathetic the insurance representative may seem, you should contact a Fresno truck accident attorney before speaking with them. An experienced attorney will advise you of your legal options to protect your right to a fair financial recovery. To learn why it is important to contact an injury attorney immediately, watch the below video.
Should I Hire an Attorney After a Trucking Accident?
Time is of the essence in a trucking accident case. An investigation of the scene should be conducted promptly. Preserving evidence at the collision site is critical as it can be time sensitive. The trucking company and its insurance carrier can use this to their advantage. Hiring the right injury lawyer to handle your case is crucial. An attorney will send preservation of evidence letters to every negligent party on your behalf. Federal law requires specific types of evidence to be recovered for a minimum of six months. This includes the electronic control module (ECM) or “black box” in the vehicle, records of the electronic logging device (ELD), and proof of truck maintenance. Having this collection of evidence is essential for recovering the compensation you are rightfully owed to cover your losses.
Fresno Truck Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Fresno truck accident lawyer. The consequences of a collision with a large commercial truck can be devastating, especially for those riding in small passenger vehicles. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a truck accident caused by the negligence of a trucker or trucking company, I am here to provide you with free, friendly advice on your situation. Please reach out to me at (559) 377-7676 or toll-free at (800) 404-5400.
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