Truck accidents, like any other personal injury case, require establishing fault and damages. But the severe injuries that often accompany these accidents, the presence of a trucking company, and other factors like federal trucking regulations make these cases more complex.
Elements of a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawsuit
The same as in any motor vehicle accident claim, the victim of a truck accident needs to prove four basic elements.
- The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. The truck driver and/or company were required to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.
- The defendant breached the duty of care (i.e., was negligent) in some way.
- The defendant’s failure to meet this duty caused the accident and subsequent injuries.
- The injured party suffered damages.
On the last point, a lot of truck accidents cause severe injuries, and thus significant damages. Those injured should not settle any claim or lawsuit until they have a full understanding of the extent and prognosis of their injuries. At this point, the injured party can consider the extent of damages, such as:
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Home/vehicle modifications
- On-going rehabilitation or medical care
- Pain and suffering
Who is the appropriate defendant?
In an accident involving a truck, this question can be more complicated. In most cases, the injured party will name the other driver as a defendant.
However, if a trucking company employs the driver, the company may be liable under vicarious liability. The company may also be directly liable if it encouraged or allowed its drivers to operate the truck for longer than legally allowed, failed to use appropriate hiring standards, or did not properly maintain the truck.
In addition, if a mechanical failure caused the accident, the victim or the victim’s family can sue the party responsible for maintaining the truck, or even the parts manufacturer.
Other parties could be liable as well, including a shipper or the party responsible for loading the truck.
Do I need a truck accident attorney?
You are not required by law to hire an attorney, but in most cases, an attorney can be helpful in ensuring you get full compensation for your damages.
Your attorney can help you prepare the case, negotiate a settlement, and can represent you in court if necessary. Below are some of the aspects of the case with which an attorney can help you:
- Gather evidence from the scene
- Send spoliation letter to truck company to preserve evidence
- Evaluate federal trucking regulations that might be applicable to your case
- Secure testimony from expert witnesses
- Handle any paperwork and other logistics of filing a legal claim
Do not risk dealing with the complications of a truck accident case yourself. Speak with a local personal injury attorney to assert your rights to compensation. Use our Find a Lawyer feature to find a truck accident lawyer in your area.