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How Do You Prove Fault in Truck Accident Claims?

Accident resulted due to overloading by loading company, property damage

Being a victim of a commercial truck accident can be overwhelming, especially when proving the truck driver’s fault feels like an uphill battle. With trucking companies and their insurers often reluctant to accept responsibility, it’s crucial to show that the truck driver, the trucking company, or another party breached their duty, leading to the accident and your injuries. For the personal injury claim, you need to gather solid evidence and expert testimony to prove the fault of the liable party.

Tackling this challenge requires the expertise of a seasoned truck accident attorney who can perform a thorough investigation, collect and analyze evidence, and pinpoint all liable parties. At Uptown Injury Law PLLC, with over 15 years of dedicated service across New York State, we’re committed to guiding you through the legal system and ensuring you receive justice. Contact us toll-free at 917-540-8728 for a complimentary consultation.

How Do You Prove Liability in a Truck Accident Claim? 

If you’ve faced a truck accident, proving liability is critical to securing rightful compensation. You need to show that the party at fault, whether it’s the truck driver, the trucking company, the owner, the parts manufacturer, the cargo loader, or a government entity, had a duty of care, breached it, and caused the accident and your injuries. Investigating all potential parties is essential.

Establishing the Duty of Care

Like all drivers, truck drivers must take reasonable care not to harm other road users. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) enforces rigorous regulations for truck drivers, particularly under severe weather conditions. Trucking companies are also subject to stringent accountability standards to ensure safety. This includes adhering to specific regulations for hazardous conditions. Moreover, trucking companies are also accountable for maintaining their trucks, hiring qualified drivers, and ensuring safe working conditions, including appropriate driver workloads and cargo loading practices.

Demonstrating a Breach of Duty of Care

A breach of duty occurs when there’s negligence. This might be a truck driver driving under the influence, speeding, or using a phone while driving. It could also be a trucking company failing to maintain their vehicles, hiring drivers without proper checks, or setting unrealistic work schedules. Also, if a truck’s cargo is overloaded or improperly loaded, that’s a breach, too.

Your truck accident attorney will dig deep to find the cause of the collision, examining accident scenes, company records, and more to gather the necessary evidence. 

Proving Causation of Your Accident

After determining liability, it is vital to link the collision to your injuries. You can provide evidence of injuries through medical records and the opinions of expert witnesses. However, the at-fault party’s insurance will likely try to cast doubt on this connection, perhaps suggesting your injuries were pre-existing or caused by something else. This is where your truck accident lawyer will argue that your injuries directly resulted from the accident and seek compensation on your behalf.

Documenting Sustained Damages

Your claim will include both financial and non-economic damages. Financial losses cover medical bills, lost wages, and future earning capacity. Non-economic losses are more challenging to quantify but include compensation for pain, suffering, PTSD, and loss of enjoyment of life.

Proving financial loss is challenging, with the at-fault party often disputing the extent of your damages. It’s a battle between their insurance company’s interests and your lawyer’s commitment to your financial security, both now and in the future. 

Types of Negligence in Trucking Accidents

In trucking accidents, negligence occurs when a truck driver or company fails to uphold their duty of care, leading to an accident. This breach of duty can manifest in various forms, significantly impacting road safety. Here are some common types of negligence seen in trucking accidents:

Truck Driver Negligence

  1. Driving Under the Influence (DUI): Truck drivers have stricter blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits than regular drivers. While most motorists in car accidents face DUI charges at a BAC of 0.08, truck drivers are considered intoxicated at a BAC of just 0.04. DUI is a severe violation, given the potential harm a commercial truck can cause.
  2. Speeding: Commercial trucks have longer stopping distances, and speeding exacerbates this issue. Speeding lessens the reaction time and increases the risk of losing control of the vehicle.
  3. Reckless Driving: This includes any dangerous behavior on the road that deviates from safe driving practices, potentially leading to accidents.
  4. Aggressive Driving: Manifestations of road rage, such as tailgating, erratic lane changing, or other aggressive actions. These behaviors can be hazardous when involving large commercial trucks.
  5. Distracted Driving: Federal laws prohibit commercial truck drivers from using mobile devices while driving. Activities like texting or calling can distract drivers, increasing the risk of accidents.
  6. Improper Lane Changes: Trucks have significant blind spots due to their size. Accidents can occur if drivers change lanes without adequately checking for other vehicles.
  7. Other Traffic Violations: Negligence can include various traffic violations such as running red lights, not stopping at signs, or other breaches of traffic laws.

Negligence By Trucking and Maintenance Companies

  1. Hours of Service (HOS) Violations: Truck drivers are legally restricted in their working hours to prevent fatigue. Overstepping these limits, often to meet tight deadlines, can lead to dangerously tired drivers on the road. Trucking companies often violate the HOS and overburden the drivers, which leads to fatigued driving and accidents.
  2. Failure to Inspect Vehicle: Truck drivers and trucking companies are required to perform vehicle inspections before trips. Neglecting these can lead to mechanical failures that cause accidents.
  3. Inadequate Training: Proper training of drivers by trucking companies is crucial for safely driving large trucks. Lack of proper training may result in poor decision-making and accidents.

Violation of Commerical Driving License (CDL)

Violating commercial driving license rules can lead to significant penalties or even the loss of license, affecting the professional driving career. For instance, if the truck driver commits two severe violations within three years, they risk a 60-day disqualification. A third serious offense in the same period escalates this to a 120-day disqualification.

Therefore, companies must rigorously screen truck drivers and provide comprehensive training to ensure compliance and safety.

Per federal government guidelines, significant violations include:

  • Operating a vehicle under the alcohol influence
  • Driving while impaired by drugs
  • Committing a criminal act using a vehicle
  • Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with an invalid CDL
  • Carelessness leading to CMV crash
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test
  • Fleeing from the scene of the accident

Additionally, disqualification can result from these severe violations identified by the federal government:

  • Distracted driving, including texting, talking on the phone, or eating while driving
  • Traffic infractions leading to fatal or nearly fatal accidents
  • Driving a CMV while not in possession of a CDL
  • Exceeding the speed limit over 15 mph
  • Unsafe or unpredictable lane changes
  • Following another vehicle too closely on multiple occasions
  • Reckless driving behavior

How Can Expert Witnesses Help in Proving Liability?

both the truck driver trucking accident

Expert witnesses help determine liability in truck accident cases by providing specialized knowledge and insights that can clarify complex issues. Through their expertise, these professionals can analyze evidence, reconstruct accident scenes, and offer credible testimony that supports your claim.

When building your truck accident case, your attorney may rely on various types of expert witnesses. These can include accident reconstruction specialists, who use the physical evidence from the crash site, such as vehicle damage, to recreate the events leading up to the accident. This analysis can pinpoint the cause of the collision and the potentially liable parties.

Medical experts are also vital, especially in cases involving serious injuries. They can testify about the extent of your injuries, the required treatments, and the potential long-term impacts on your health and lifestyle. This testimony is crucial in establishing the link between the accident and your injuries, a key element in proving liability.

Additionally, mechanical experts may examine the truck, identifying any mechanical failures or maintenance issues that could have contributed to the accident. Their findings can point to negligence by the trucking company or maintenance provider.

Another expert witness, human factor experts, specializes in understanding how human error contributes to accidents. They can offer insights into a driver’s actions, such as reaction times, fatigue, and the influence of drugs or alcohol. Their analysis can help establish negligence on the part of the truck driver.

Including expert testimony in your truck accident claim strengthens your case by providing authoritative evidence on technical matters beyond the average person’s knowledge. This can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful accident claim, as it provides the factual basis to prove liability beyond a reasonable doubt.

What Types of Damages Are Awarded in Truck Accident Cases?

You’re entitled to a comprehensive range of compensations if you are a truck accident victim. These cover both immediate and long-term expenses resulting from the truck crash. The negligent party covers the following damages:

Your Primary Financial Damages: The most immediate consequences of your truck accident are medical expenses and lost wages. This covers all your medical treatments, from emergency room visits to ongoing therapies, and the income you lose while recovering. If the accident affects your future earning ability, you’re entitled to compensation for loss of earning capacity.

Vehicle-Related Costs: If your vehicle suffered damage in the truck accident, you can claim the costs of repairs or replacement. This saves you from the financial burden of a damaged or lost vehicle.

Long-term Medical Care: Truck accidents often lead to severe injuries, necessitating prolonged medical attention. Compensation for future medical care is vital, particularly for injuries requiring ongoing treatment, rehabilitation, or specialized equipment.

Non-Economic Damages: Beyond financial losses, non-economic damages like pain and suffering, psychiatric distress,and loss of life quality are also compensable. These damages recognize the profound personal impact of the accident on your life and well-being.

Wrongful Death Damages: In tragic circumstances where your loved one passed away in a truck collision, you or other surviving family members can seek wrongful death damages. This includes compensation for funeral expenses, loss of companionship, and the emotional toll of the loss.

An experienced truck accident lawyer can accurately calculate these damages and advocate for your right to total compensation. They ensure that every impact of the accident, both financial and emotional, is accounted for in your claim. This approach is essential to secure the justice and financial stability you deserve after such a traumatic event.

What if You’re Partially at Fault in a Truck Accident?

If you are partially at fault in a trucking accident in New York, you may still be able to recover compensation for your damages. New York has the “pure comparative negligence” rule, which means that even if you are 99% at fault for the accident, you can still recover 1% of the damages. However, your settlement or award would be reduced based on your percentage of fault. For instance, if you were 30% liable for the accident, the court would reduce your compensation by 30%.

However, determining fault in a truck accident can be complex, and it’s best to seek counsel from an experienced truck accident lawyer who can review your accident claim and help you understand your legal options. Your attorney can also help you through the insurance process and negotiate with the other party’s insurance company on your behalf.

If you think you may be partially responsible for the accident, it’s essential not to discuss it with anyone other than your attorney. Admitting fault to the insurance company or the other driver could harm your chances of recovering compensation, even if you were not entirely at fault. 

How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help You Establish Fault?

A skilled truck accident attorney is your crucial ally in proving fault after a trucking collision. They expertly navigate the complexities of your case, ensuring that every piece of evidence is thoroughly examined and leveraged in your favor. Here’s how:

  1. Expert Investigation and Evidence Collection: Your attorney conducts a detailed investigation to uncover critical evidence. They gather accident reports, medical records, witness statements, and truck maintenance records and may even consult with accident reconstruction experts. This approach ensures a solid foundation for your case.
  2. Identification of Negligence: A seasoned truck accident lawyer can prove negligence. Whether it’s a distracted truck driver, a poorly maintained truck, or a trucking company’s failure to comply with safety regulations, your attorney identifies and highlights these lapses.
  3. Managing Complex Trucking Laws and Regulations: Truck accidents come under specific federal and state regulations. Your lawyer’s expertise in these laws is crucial for proving how the other party violated these standards, thus establishing fault.
  4. Handling Insurance Negotiations: Dealing with insurance companies in commercial truck accidents can be daunting. Your attorney takes the lead, negotiating aggressively to protect your rights and seek fair compensation.
  5. Representing You in Court: If your case proceeds to trial, the expertise of a seasoned attorney becomes indispensable. They present a compelling argument, backed by solid evidence and legal knowledge, to prove the truck driver’s or company’s fault.
  6. Offering Legal Guidance and Support: During the course of the case, your lawyer offers continuous legal guidance, assisting you in understanding your rights and the legal consequences of your accident. Their support is crucial in navigating the complex and stressful journey towards justice.

Talk to an Experienced NYC Truck Accident Lawyer For Free Today!

If you’re navigating the aftermath of a truck accident, don’t face the legal battle alone. At Uptown Injury Law PLLC, we bring over 15 years of unwavering commitment to fighting for the rights of New York’s truck accident victims. We understand the challenges of proving fault and securing the compensation you rightfully deserve. 

Our seasoned truck accident attorneys are ready to start your case, offering a comprehensive evaluation and top-notch representation. We work contingently, meaning we don’t get paid unless you win. This ensures our goals align perfectly with yours—to win your case and support your journey towards healing and financial stability.

Don’t wait to start the process towards justice and recovery. Contact us now at 917-540-8728 for your free consultation. 

FAQs

How Can You Determine if the Truck Driver’s Negligence Caused the Car Accident?

Collect evidence from the accident scene, including police reports and witness statements. Evaluating the truck driver’s actions before and during the incident, including instances of speeding or not following traffic laws, also helps prove negligence. In addition, consult law offices with experience in truck accident claims, which can provide further insight to determine fault.

What Steps Should Truck Accident Victims Take Immediately After the Accident Happened?

If you’re a truck accident victim, your immediate steps should include ensuring your safety and that of others involved. This includes calling emergency services and obtaining a police report of the accident scene. It’s also essential to document the accident by taking photos, gathering witness contact information, and seeking medical attention, even if you don’t have apparent injuries.

How Do You Determine Fault in Accidents Involving Tractor-Trailers and Commercial Trucks?

You can determine fault in accidents involving tractor-trailers and commercial trucks through separate investigations conducted by law enforcement, legal teams, and, sometimes, independent accident reconstruction experts. These investigations consider driver logs, truck maintenance records, and compliance with federal trucking regulations. The courts may also scrutinize the role of the trucking and maintenance company in the accident.

Can the Trucking Company Be Held Liable for the Accident?

Yes, you can hold the trucking company liable under vicarious liability if the truck driver’s negligence was within the scope of their employment. Furthermore, the trucking company might bear direct responsibility if poor truck maintenance or non-compliance with safety standards led to the accident. A thorough investigation will determine the company’s role in the accident.

How Do You Prove Negligence in Truck Crashes?

Proving negligence in truck crashes involves gathering proof that the driver, trucking firm, or another entity did not fulfill their responsibility to act with care. This evidence can include police reports, witness testimonies, dash cam footage, and records of compliance with trucking regulations. Legal professionals specializing in truck accidents can assist in compiling and presenting this evidence effectively.

Who Can Be Held Liable Apart From the Truck Driver in Truck Accidents?

Apart from the truck driver, multiple parties can be held liable in truck accidents, including trucking, maintenance, loading, and truck parts manufacturers, if faulty equipment contributed to the accident. Determining fault may require in-depth legal and technical analyses to identify all liable parties.

What Role Do Police Reports Play in Seeking Compensation for Accident Victims?

Police reports play a critical role in seeking compensation by providing an official account of the crash, including details about the parties involved, witness statements, and the officer’s observations at the scene. This report can be crucial in establishing fault and negligence in legal claims for compensation.

How Can You Ensure Maximum Compensation as an Accident Victim?

To ensure maximum compensation, consider seeking a free legal consultation with attorneys experienced in truck accident cases. These professionals can guide victims through the process of collecting evidence, filing negligence claims, and negotiating with insurance companies. Effective legal representation can significantly impact the compensation received for damages and injuries.

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Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers
WRITTEN AND REVIEWED BY
Kyle Newman Founder and Senior Trial Lawyer at Uptown Injury Law New York's Best Personal Injury Medical Malpractice and Accident Law firm New York's Top Trial Lawyers

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