Truck accidents cause devastating injuries that can have lifelong effects. The costs of treating these injuries can be astronomical. Without a way to pay for medical bills, injury victims may be saddled with cumbersome medical debt in addition to a painful recovery period. Those who are injured in a truck accident, therefore, have a strong motivation to hold negligent parties accountable and, thereby, liable for their injury costs and other damages.
But how do most truck accident injury lawyers go about proving negligence? Sometimes, showing that a truck driver or trucking company was negligent is easy, such as pointing to a faulty hitch or a driver under the influence of amphetamines. Other times, establishing negligence in a truck accident case can be incredibly difficult, depending largely on obscure facts of law or prior case rulings.
At the heart of every truck accident negligence claim, though, is the idea that someone failed in their duty to keep injury victims safe. Whether that was from a one-time decision to check mirrors before changing lanes or a pattern of careless oversight, the lapse in a duty of care is what is considered to have caused the injuries.
Injury victims must be able to somehow establish that the truck driver, their employer, or a related third-party had a duty and failed to uphold it. Proving this is not always easy, and it often requires the help of an experienced Atlanta truck accident attorney.
Together, you and your attorney can look for the following common factors that give truck accident negligence claims the strength to succeed in court or through the insurance system.
The Four Components of Every Truck Accident Negligence Case
The majority of trucking accident injury cases will use the legal theory of negligence to establish that someone involved in the incident was responsible for the injury and its financial consequences.
Every negligence claim must prove the following four facts:
- Someone (i.e. a truck driver, their employer, or a third party) had a duty of care to do something with the intention that it would keep others safe.
- That individual or company had a breach in their duty of care where they failed to do something they should have.
- That breach in the defendant’s duty of care directly lead to injuries through an accident or incident.
- The injury resulted in real, actual damages, such as medical bills, that can be claimed and recovered through a court process.
In cases where two or more parties contributed to the circumstances of an accident through their negligence, Georgia uses a modified comparative negligence law. Each responsible party is liable for their percentage of fault, including the injured plaintiff. If the plaintiff is found to be 50% or more at fault for their own injuries because of a negligent decision, then they unfortunately cannot recover any compensation from other negligent parties.
Defending against claims that you were negligent and caused your own accident to happen is one of the primary reasons that major truck accident settlements often require the expertise of a seasoned Atlanta truck accident lawyer.
Determining How Someone Failed in Their Duty of Care before a Truck Accident
In a typical auto accident case, establishing a breach in a duty of care often comes down to whether a driver broke an obvious law. Were they speeding? Had they been drinking? Did they ignore a stop sign or traffic signal?
Truck accident claims can be quite similar, except truck drivers and the companies they work with have significantly more laws, rules, and regulations to abide by.
For instance, every truck driver must be well rested so that they can be safe to drive across the nation’s highways. To ensure that truck drivers aren’t neglecting sleep or working too many hours, they must follow hours of service regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). One such rule mandates that drivers take 30 minute rest breaks every 8 hours, with few exceptions.
To enforce hours of service regulations, the FMCSA requires all drivers to maintain a log book. This log book can be examined during a case’s discovery period to see if drivers are getting their legally mandated rest. If an employer has not been examining these logs and ensuring that their drivers follow hours of service laws, then they could be seen as negligent.
Some companies even “fudge” or lie about their driver’s hours of service. Inconsistencies or impossible time stamps can reveal a pattern of fraud that shows a trucking company knew about a dangerous condition and did nothing about it.
Another set of laws that can apply to semi truck accident cases are federal and state weight limits. If a contracting trucking company gives a driver an overloaded trailer, they create a greater risk of an accident.
Other common types of neglect include vehicle neglect. Truck owners, trailer owners, drivers, and those who directly use the equipment are responsible for maintaining vital safety systems. Yet, a review of hauling fleet equipment by the FMCSA found that nearly 1 out of every 5 failed their roadside safety inspections.
Failure to maintain something like brakes can contribute to a crash. Depending on the circumstances, it may be the driver or their employer who is at fault for this neglect. Other times, a trucking maintenance company could be found negligent because they did not monitor and repair equipment as requested.
Working with an Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney to Seek Compensation for Your Injuries
Experience with truck accident cases gives attorneys huge advantages when it comes to proving negligence. They will know which laws could have prevented the accident from happening if they were followed as intended. They can also identify red flags in behavior or company practices that reveal patterns of neglect.
For example, a skilled attorney could show that a company was negligent by hiring a driver with a history of substance abuse and major road accidents.
You can learn more about what types of negligence potentially contributed to your accident and how to prove which companies or people were responsible when you work with an Atlanta truck accident attorney.
Schedule a free, no obligation consultation with an Atlanta truck accident lawyer now when you call 404-869-1580 or contact us online.