Accidents between large commercial trucks and passengers vehicles injure and kill thousands in the United States each year.
Considering that most semi-trucks, big-rigs, and 18-wheelers weigh up to 30 times as much as the average passenger vehicle, it's a wonder that not all collisions involving commercial trucks include fatalities.
The effects of major truck accidents on victims fortunate enough to live through them cannot be overstated. People in serious crashes such as these are often left with critical and even catastrophic afflictions, such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries, amputations, organ damage, and other life-changing medical conditions. Many victims may be unable to work in their previous fields or any other.
The cost of necessary medical treatment—which may include on-going home care—and the loss of the victim's ability to provide an income can be an astronomical financial hardship.
Fortunately, people injured in truck accidents caused by driver or trucking company negligence aren't expected to shoulder the financial burden of consequences alone. The law gives truck accident victims the ability to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for damages from the at-fault party.
If you were seriously injured in a truck accident, here's what you should know.
Elements of a Personal Injury Claim
In order to receive a financial award in a personal injury lawsuit, the accident victim and her attorney must prove that truck driver or trucking company negligence caused the accident and resulting injuries.
To prove negligence, the following four elements must be present:
- Duty: The victim and her attorney must show the trucker had a legal duty to operate the commercial vehicle safely and in compliance with relevant state and federal safety regulations.
- Breach of duty: Once the victim and attorney have showed the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care, they must demonstrate that, by certain conduct, the defendant breached that duty.
- Causation: Next, the accident victim and her attorney must prove the defendant's breach of duty of care resulted in physical injury or damage to property.
- Damages: Accident victims must also be ready to demonstrate that their injuries were the direct result of the defendant's actions.
Examples of Commercial Driver Negligence
Driving a commercial truck requires precision. When operators don't make safety a priority, serious accidents can result. Common examples of commercial driver negligence include:
- Drowsy driving
- Drugged or drunk driving
- Distracted driving
- Reckless driving
- Failure to check "no zone" blind spots
Truck Accident Evidence
Evidence is extremely important in truck crash cases. While accident victims may attempt to gather some evidence on their own—such as medical records detailing the diagnosis and prognosis of their injuries and photos of injuries, property damage, and the accident scene—some of the most valuable evidence is obtained in the discovery phase of the lawsuit.
This evidence can include:
- The commercial driver's log books and delivery records. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires drivers to keep log books of each shift and detail records of delivery.
- Truck cab cameras and data recorders. The cabs of many commercial vehicles include cameras and data recorders that can provide valuable information about the driver's speed and the truck's mechanical conditions at the time of the accident.
- Witness testimony. If there were people who witnessed the truck accident, the attorneys for both sides will get in touch with them to discuss what they saw.
- Expert testimony. Testimony from experts, such as accident reconstructionists, life-care planners, economists, and others can shed light on the circumstances, and give the judge and jury an idea of what it will be like to live with the injuries sustained in the accident.
Do You Need a Truck Accident Attorney?
If you were injured in a truck crash, McGarland Law's team of award-winning attorneys can help you gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case. Contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial case consultation.