Proving four elements of negligence is how fault is determined in a truck accident. Those key elements are:
- Duty: The liable party must act with reasonable care
- Breach of duty: The liable party breached their obligation for your safety by failing to act with reasonable care
- Causation: The breach of duty caused the accident
- Damages: The accident resulted in your injuries and other related losses
Keep in mind that several parties’ negligence may have caused the accident. This means responsibility for paying compensation could be spread among several defendants, such as:
- The truck driver or owner
- The trucking company
- Cargo-loading personnel
- Third-party maintenance service
- A parts manufacturer
While this means you can seek compensation from more sources, having multiple parties also makes the legal process far more complex.
How Do Duty, Breach, Causation, and Damages Relate to a Trucking Accident?
In collisions involving large rigs, the occupants of smaller vehicles often take the brunt of the damage. As such, injuries tend to be long-term, affecting a person’s work and home life. Therefore, you should be properly compensated for the harm done. To understand how fault is determined, let’s take a look at how each of the four elements applies within the context of a truck accident:
Duty of Care
All drivers must take reasonable care not to injure other road users with their behavior while behind the wheel. However, truck drivers are held to higher standards of care during extreme weather, per 49 CFR § 392.14 – Hazardous conditions; extreme caution.
Similarly, trucking companies must ensure their fleet is maintained correctly to keep their drivers and other road users safe. They must also take reasonable steps to hire qualified and safe drivers by conducting appropriate employee background checks and continuing this vigilance with regular training and health checks.
A duty of care is fundamental to all aspects of work, including the driver’s allocated hours and workloads, how trucks are loaded, and other applicable working conditions.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty can occur when a truck driver, trucking company, other any party related to the companies’ operations engages in negligent behavior, such as:
- Driving under the influence
- Speeding and other reckless actions
- Driving while distracted (e.g., using a smartphone or other in-cab technologies while operating a vehicle)
- Trucking companies failing to maintain their fleet
- Faulty mechanical parts, such as brakes or tires
- Trucking companies issuing unreasonable work schedules, resulting in drivers violating safety rules and regulations
- Trucking companies cutting safety-related corners to speed up deliveries
- Overloading a truck’s cargo
- Improperly loading a truck’s cargo
- Trucking companies failing to conduct proper background checks before hiring new drivers
An injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to determine a collision’s cause. They can help you preserve the evidence you need to support your case. Evidence can come from the accident scene or from separate investigations into a trucking company’s paperwork or data.
After fault is determined in a truck accident, your injury lawyer will need to prove the collision resulted in your injuries. This is known as causation. Proof of causation typically comes from evidence your attorney gathers, such as medical reports and expert testimony that links your injuries to the accident.
This part of the claim is often the focus of any defenses against your case. The at-fault party’s legal representation will likely seek ways to create doubt surrounding the question of whether your injuries were a direct result of the crash. They may even attribute your injuries to something else.
A personal injury lawyer will pursue the maximum compensation available with no reduction in your case’s value.
Damages include your injuries and losses from the accident, which can be:
- Financial losses, such as medical bills, lost wages, and reduced earning capacity if your employment is affected in the future. Other losses include rehabilitation costs and other expenses related to your long-term care.
- Non-economic losses (which are harder to quantify as they are subjective) can include compensation for pain and suffering, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or loss of enjoyment of life.
Proving your financial loss is always a challenge, as the at-fault party will likely argue that your damages are less than what you are requesting.
Conflict arises from insurance companies seeking to protect their financial interests versus your injury attorney, whose goal is to protect your financial security both now and in the future. The process involves both sides negotiating on a granular level.
Talk to Us After Your Florida Truck Accident for Free Today
At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, pursuing the full value of your case is only part of our mission. We are focused on helping our clients take back control of their lives after a serious trucking accident. Our injury attorneys strive to make the legal process as stress-free as possible by managing every aspect of your case so you can focus on your recovery.
We also take our cases on contingency, meaning you pay nothing unless we win. You can learn more about how fault is determined in a truck accident and how we can help your case. Call us at 1-800-747-3733 for a free case review today.
We Can Help.