Proving the truck driver was at fault in a Florida big rig accident often comes down to demonstrating that the trucker was negligent. You need to establish that the at-fault party did not take care in operating or maintaining the vehicle and that their lack of care caused your crash. That said, this is not easy to do on your own. The average person has limited access to the resources necessary to investigate a crash of this nature.
Large truck accidents are complex to deal with due to the involvement of multiple parties and the complicated structure of a trucking business. A truck accident lawyer will have the knowledge of Florida law, trucking regulations, and the legal system required to handle your case. They will take the necessary steps to prove the trucker was at fault.
How Truck Drivers Cause Big Rig Accidents
Your attorney will examine the evidence for any signs of negligence on the part of the driver or the motor carrier they work for. This includes traffic violations or violations of regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Per the FMCSA, about 87% of large truck accidents are attributed to truck driver error. Often these errors revolve around the same set of issues stemming from negligence. The most common reasons for semi-truck accidents are:
- Traveling too fast for conditions
- Over-the-counter drug use
- Inadequate surveillance of surroundings
- Illegal maneuvers
- Following too close (tailgating)
If the driver committed any of these or other negligent acts, they should be held accountable for your losses.
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What Is Negligence and How do You Prove It?
Negligence is the failure of the at-fault party to behave as a reasonable person would if they were in the same position.
From a legal standpoint, truck drivers have a duty to drive safely and take certain steps to prevent harm to themselves and others. For example, the trucker has a duty to drive only when physically and mentally alert. There are even hours of service regulations put in place by the FMCSA to prevent fatigue. These regulations restrict the number of hours a trucker can drive before a rest. If they haven’t adhered to those rules and fatigue caused the truck accident, the driver is at fault.
Elements of Negligence
In court, a judge and jury will look for four key elements to support your claim that the trucker was negligent:
- Duty. The semi-truck driver owed you a duty to drive safely. All drivers have this duty.
- Breach of Duty. The trucker did not exercise the same care a reasonable driver would have, e.g. They were on the road for 13 consecutive hours with no breaks.
- Causation. The trucker’s negligent actions led to the crash, e.g. The driver fell asleep at the wheel.
- Damages. The actions of the driver resulted in your injuries, mental or emotional distress, or financial losses.
If your attorney can prove the above factors, you can recover damages from the at-fault driver.
Conducting a Truck Accident Investigation
To prove that negligence took place, your attorney will conduct an investigation into the big rig accident, gathering different types of evidence in support of your claim. Your truck accident lawyer may gather the following:
Evidence from the crash site will provide the most insight into who caused the crash. The crash report will be one of the first pieces of evidence your lawyer secures. It may include the responding officer’s notes, names of parties involved, and names of witnesses. The report will provide insight into when, where, and how the crash happened and what the next step of the investigation should be.
Black Box Data
Most semi-trucks are fitted with an event data recorder, also known as a black box. This device records system activity, such as truck speed, brake usage, acceleration and deceleration, equipment malfunctions, dispatch communications, and GPS location. Your lawyer may subpoena black box data to uncover pertinent information about the crash.
Traffic Camera Footage
Nearby traffic cameras may have caught the crash or the moments leading up to it. Accident lawyers know how to obtain this footage from the proper municipal authority. It’s also possible that a storefront surveillance camera caught the crash. Your attorney will know how to secure this evidence.
Cell Phone Or Dashcam Footage
Witnesses or participants in the accident may have captured the crash or the interactions between drivers on a mobile phone or dash cam. This kind of evidence isn’t easy to obtain without the help of a legal professional.
Speaking to witnesses is often essential to filling in the blanks and understanding who might have been at fault.
Your big rig accident lawyer may use a crash reconstruction expert to analyze the crash scene. The expert can provide a walkthrough of how the collision likely took place, including elements like the speed of the crash, the time and area of impact, and the implications of these pieces of data regarding fault.
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A Lawyer Can Prove the Truck Driver Was At Fault
Hiring an injury lawyer can make it easier for truck accident victims to prove fault to the insurance company. If the trucker is at fault, your lawyer has the resources at their disposal to retrieve evidence and determine negligence. While they conduct their investigation and pursue your compensation, you can rest and recover. Contact the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine today for a free case review.
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