Large commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks, liquid tankers, and other 18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, significantly outmatching passenger vehicles in size, weight, and power. When these heavy, hulking vehicles collide with the drivers and occupants of cars, minivans, pickup trucks, or SUVs, the results can be both physically and financially devastating.
Fortunately, civil law allows truck accident victims to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit to seek compensation for injuries and other losses from the party responsible for the crash. However, before victims can count on receiving a financial award, they must be sure that they have what it takes to prove their case.
If you were injured in a truck accident and considering your legal rights to pursue compensation for damages, here's what you should know.
Key Elements in a Personal Injury Truck Accident Case
Unfortunately, just being involved in a truck accident isn't enough to secure a financial award. In order for a case to be considered valid, it must contain all of the key elements of a personal injury truck accident case. These elements include:
- Duty of care. Truck drivers—and other motorists—have a legal duty to operate their vehicles safely, responsibly, and in accordance with all applicable traffic laws. Additionally, trucking companies have a duty to maintain safe hiring, scheduling, loading, and maintenance practices in the interest of public safety.
- Breach of duty of care. When truck drivers fail to load or operate their vehicles safely, or when trucking companies hire unsafe commercial drivers or encourage their drivers to break federal safety regulations, these practices breach the duty of care owed to other motorists.
- Causation. Plaintiffs must be able to show that the defendant's actions or inaction caused their injuries or damaged their property.
- Damages. Finally, plaintiffs must be able to demonstrate their injuries and other losses occurred as a direct result of the defendant's negligent actions.
Evidence Used in Truck Accident Cases
Evidence is important in any personal injury case, but especially so in truck accident cases, where plaintiffs are often against a trucking company's intimidating corporate counsel. Fortunately, detailed evidence and an experienced truck accident lawyer can help level the playing field.
Common types of evidence used in truck accident cases include:
- Photographs of the accident scene, property damage, and injuries
- Medical records detailing the plaintiff's diagnosis and prognosis
- Statements from eyewitnesses
- The truck's black box data recorder, which notes its driving time, speed history, accelerations, braking patterns, idle time, velocity changes, fuel consumption, time between multiple impacts, and airbag deployment
- Footage from the truck cab camera
- Truck driver employment records, including inspection records, driving history, maintenance logs, training reports, and drug and alcohol screening results
- Driver logs, which detail hours spent behind the wheel, hours spent sleeping or resting, and vehicle inspection information
- Findings of past National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident investigations
- Testimony from expert witnesses, such as accident reconstructionists, first responders, regulations experts, maintenance specialists, phone record specialists, forensic toxicologists, and others
Much of this evidence would be difficult, if not impossible, for a plaintiff to gather alone. Fortunately, an attorney can request this and other essential information during the discovery phase of the lawsuit.
Were You Injured in a Truck Accident?
If you were injured in a large truck accident that wasn't your fault, you may be eligible for compensation for your injuries and other losses, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, loss of earning potential (if accident-related injuries prevent you from working), pain and suffering, mental anguish, and more.
Experienced truck accident lawyer Randy Sevenish of Sevenish Law can help you pursue the monetary award you both need and deserve. Contact Sevenish Law today to schedule a free initial analysis of your case.