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Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

Depending on the circumstances, numerous persons, including the driver, company, and cargo loader, could all share in liability.

One of the scariest experiences on the road is driving next to big wheel semi-trucks. Most drivers, whether they know why or not, experience discomfort being next to such large vehicles. The truth of the matter is that these vehicles do cause crashes, and due to the multiple people who may be at fault, it can be difficult to always ascertain who needs to pay for your justice.

Still, many of the people who drive and work around the truck owe drivers on the road a duty of care. A failure to meet this duty of care can create a legal pathway for your recovery.

What are the Differences Between Truck Accidents and Car Accidents?

The potential for damages in truck accidents are much larger, especially when hauling trucks are involved. However, beyond that there are many more rules truck drivers must follow, rules that if broken are substantially more likely to prove negligence than in a car accident case.

When proving a vehicular accident case, it is always imperative to prove legal negligence. Essentially, this requires your lawyer to prove that someone was responsible for your accident and that the person acted in a way that is substantially below the standard for how we expect reasonable persons to act on the road. Negligence can occur without the breaking of any specific law, however, if someone breaks the law, arguing negligence is substantially more persuasive.

For example, if someone ran a red light and hit someone, you have an extremely persuasive case of negligence. However, someone who gets into an accident because they have only a few hours of sleep the night before is a harder case. Not one that may be impossible to win, but one that is substantially harder to prove.

The good news is that when it comes to trucking accidents, proving your case might be very different. There are a substantial number of laws that, if proven to be violated, could show negligence. Florida and Federal law creates maximum working hours, and minimum off duty hours every day.

Furthermore electronic logbooks are generally mandatory in commercial trucks,  which records this information.

What Evidence Should You Gather After a Truck Accident?

Evidence that must be collected after a truck crash can be different than that evidence that must be collected after a car crash. Without evidence, you cannot prove your case. Much of the evidence used will be collected by your attorney. However, there are three pieces of evidence worth mentioning:

1. Photographs of the accident scene

After you make sure everyone is safe, and have called the police, taking photographs of the accident scene is a good idea. Such evidence may not be persevered otherwise and taking photographs can make or break a case. It will be harder for the other side to fight you if you are able to take pictures of your own damages, the truck damage, and the accident site itself.

2. The truck driver’s information

Just as you would for the driver of the other car in a car crash, it is imperative to get the truck driver’s information in a truck crash. Make sure to get his name, contact information, insurance information, as well as the company the driver works for, and whether they own the vehicle. This information will be invaluable to your attorney. Your lawyer will also collect more information about the driver when you begin your case.

3. Truck activity log

The activity log tracks how long a driver has been behind the wheel, and when they stopped for rest. Electric logs usually exist, which are more accurate than logs kept by the truck driver. These logs will tell you whether the driver kept up with legal regulations regarding truck operations and breaks. These items will usually be collected by your attorney.

Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

When a truck accident occurs, numerous people could be at fault for many different reasons. The following are just some examples:

Truck Driver

As you might expect, the truck driver may be at fault for the same reasons a driver of any vehicle may be at fault. If they drove their vehicle in a negligent manner, such as if they were speeding, driving under the influence, or not paying attention, they may be partially or completely liable for the accident.

The Carrier

The trucking company that employs the truck driver generally shares some responsibility. They may be directly responsible, especially in situations where they cut corners with regards to truck maintenance or inspection consistency. There are certain regulations a trucking company must follow, and a lawyer can be particularly helpful in discovering whether laws were indeed violated.

In addition, the theory of respondeat superior usually makes it so that a company is responsible for the negligence of its employees. If the truck driver was negligent, then it is likely that the carrier will also be a party your lawyer will bring suit against on your behalf. This is good news because the carrier will likely have access to a large sum of money to pay for your damages. This will generally only be a viable option if the person is an employee of the company, not just an independent contractor.

Cargo Shipper/Loader

While it may not be a common occurrence in smaller vehicles, incorrectly loaded or packaged cargo can affect the safe operation of the truck if it improperly shifts around during transit. In addition, improperly loaded cargo can be directly responsible for injury in some circumstances. In some cases, the company that loaded the cargo could bear the brunt of the responsibility.

Other entities may also be responsible

Other vendors may also be responsible for some damages. For example, a parts manufacturer may have created a faulty part that caused the crash. A product manufacturer or designer may have created a project that inadvertently created issues during transit, causing the driver to lose control. Alternatively, on private roads, private parties may have created dangerous driving conditions that caused the accident.

How Do Multiple Defendants Affect a Truck Accident Lawsuit?

Florida is a comparative law state. This means that courts allocate responsibility for accidents to each party based on their percentage of fault.

For example, a jury may find that the victim driver was 10% responsible for the crash, but the truck driver who mainly caused the crash is 90% responsible. In this case, the truck driver would be responsible for 90% of the victim’s damages, and the victim would be saddled in paying for the rest. This is a simple distribution, but it can become more complicated in cases where multiple parties are at fault

Where multiple people are at fault you could find it much more difficult to assign percentages to the case.

For example, if both the truck driver and cargo loader is at fault you could find the percentage of blame being 50% against the truck driver, 40% against the cargo loader, and 10% against the victim driver. These situations can make it harder to collect your settlement and make lawsuits harder to win because of their complexity.

Furthermore, there is an art to liability distribution, as you want to get the most money from the people or entities who can actually pay it. These are all reasons you need someone who knows the law in the area and who will fight for the justice you deserve. This is why you need a personal injury attorney.

Truck accidents can be scary, and lawsuits regarding them can be hard to navigate. If you find yourself in one of these terrible situations in Tampa or St. Petersburg, contact Bulluck Law Group to see how we can help.

If you are in need of an experienced personal injury lawyer, contact Bulluck Law Group today. We offer a free case evaluation to see if we’re a good fit as well as a No Recovery, No Fee Promise.

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