How is Fault Determined in a Truck Accident?
June 10, 2021
If you plan to seek damages for your injuries after a truck accident, one of the first steps is determining who is at fault for the accident.
Why is determining fault important?
Truck accidents are bound to happen in Kansas and Missouri because of the central location of these states in the country. The consequences of an 18-wheeler accident tend to be much more severe than passenger vehicle accidents because of the size and weight of the 18-wheelers. Truck accidents cause devastating loss, such as injury and a decrease in quality of life, or even death. If you are on the road, this could happen to you no matter how careful you are as a driver.
Because the consequences of a truck accident are so severe, you might be in a situation where you need a personal injury attorney to help advocate for you so you can seek damages. The source of this compensation usually comes from the at-fault party of the truck accident.
Proving fault requires a thorough investigation. Receiving compensation, among other factors, requires timely action by the person seeking compensation. The potential for damages expires after two years in Kansas and five years in Missouri and proving liability can take time in some situations.
Cause and fault are connected.
There are many causes of a truck accident. A driver could cause an accident after violating a traffic law, such as speeding, running a red light, or switching lanes without signaling. A very common cause of truck accidents is a driver’s negligence.
Negligence is based on the concept that all drivers are expected act reasonably and safely when handling and operating a vehicle. When a driver does not act reasonably, they are often found to be negligent. This reasonable standard is even higher for truck drivers than drivers of passenger vehicles. In other words, there are more requirements to handle and operate an 18-wheeler reasonably and safely. An 18-wheeler takes longer to stop, has more blind spots, and requires much more maintenance than passenger vehicles. Drivers of 18-wheelers go through stringent training and must meet strict qualifications. These qualifications are regulated by state and federal law.
Drivers are potentially found to be negligent when they are distracted while driving, driving while drowsy, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc.
If a driver was using his cell phone while driving, the cell phone data could show that he was distracted at the time of the accident. The driver’s log might be able to show that he did not take the rest breaks required by federal law. After a truck accident, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires the driver to take a drug and alcohol test to show if the driver was under an influence during the accident.
It is not always the driver’s fault.
Not only can drivers be at fault for truck accidents, but it is possible that a truck company, repair company, manufacturer, or loading company could be at fault for a truck accident.
Through the doctrine of respondeat superior, it is possible that a truck company could be liable for the damages that a driver caused if the driver caused the accident (1) as an employee and (2) within the scope of the driver’s employment. The second requirement is usually easy to prove, however, the first one is not always that easy. The title of the driver is not always determinative of the employment status. Because of the freedom of the driver, sometimes the driver is considered an independent contractor, thus just the driver will be liable. Why does it matter who is liable? This matters because you are likely seeking a high dollar amount. The costs of an 18-wheeler accident alone can be life altering, so holding a party accountable with enough resources to compensate you can make a large impact on your recovery.
Another way to hold a trucking company liable is to prove that the hiring or training of the drivers was negligent. It is possible that a company hired a driver without ensuring the driver met all the requirements. The company could be liable if the truck was not serviced in accordance with law.
If an object flies off the truck, the truck tips over, or the structural integrity of the truck collapses because the load is too heavy, the company that loaded the truck could be found liable for negligent loading. If the truck mechanically malfunctions, the company that is hired to repair the truck or the manufacturer could be found liable for the truck accident.
This is an issue for an experienced personal injury attorney to handle.
As you can see, this is a complex issue. This article just scratches the surface on how your personal injury attorney will help you determine fault and attempt to receive compensation for your injuries.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.