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Determining Fault in a Truck or 18-Wheeler Accident: What You Need to Know.

Texas Truck Accident Lawyer | Determining Fault in a Truck or 18-Wheeler CrashHow Fault is Determined in a Truck Crash| Texas 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyer

How is fault determined in a truck or 18-wheeler accident?

If you or a loved one were hurt or tragically killed in a trucking-related crash, proving the trucking company and its driver were responsible is crucial to receiving the maximum compensation possible for all of your injuries and losses.

But because big truck accidents are more likely to result in serious and fatal injuries and involve multiple liable parties compared to a typical car crash, establishing fault is far more complex and almost always requires the help of an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer who understands the tactics trucking companies use to escape accountability and avoid paying victim and families the compensation they truly deserve.

Truck Accident Negligence: Trucking Companies, Drivers, and Third Parties.

The trucking company and its driver are responsible for victims’ injuries and losses when their poor decisions or reckless behavior causes an accident. Some common examples of trucking company and truck driver negligence include:

  • Distracted driving: The trucker may be at fault for a crash that occurred while they were texting, talking on their cell phone, or engaging in any activity that took their focus off the road.
  • Driver fatigue: Federal regulations dictate how long a truck driver can remain behind the wheel without taking breaks to sleep and rest. However, the pressure to deliver their loads on time causes far too many truckers to ignore these rules and remain on the road despite being too fatigued to safely operate their vehicles.
  • Reckless Driving: Speeding, sudden lane changes, failing to signal, braking abruptly, and driving aggressively to meet a deadline, can all easily contribute to an accident.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Many long-haul truckers drink on the job or rely on stimulants to stay alert behind the wheel. Federal regulations require any CDL holder operating a vehicle with a GWR greater than 26,000 or hauling placarded hazardous materials to undergo pre-employment and random drug and alcohol testing. The requirement applies to full-time and part-time employees, as well as owner-operators classified as independent contractors.
  • Negligent Hiring: The trucking company is responsible for hiring qualified and properly certified drivers. Unfortunately, some companies fail to adequately screen drivers to ensure they have the skills and experience to safely navigate large trucks and heavy loads.
  • Negligent Loading: 18-wheelers and other large trucks have specific weight limits and must be loaded in accordance with federal cargo securement rules to ensure they remain stable and balanced on the road.
  • Inadequate Maintenance: A big truck requires regular maintenance to ensure safe operation. Responsible trucking companies will establish a regular schedule of inspection and maintenance to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy. Conscientious truckers will routinely check their vehicles to ensure everything is in good working order, including head and tail lights, windshield wipers, and brakes, and alert the trucking company to any issues.
  • Inadequate Driver Training: Even though they have acquired their CDL, new truck drivers may not have the experience to safely handle a big rig hauling a substantial load. Drivers may also require specialized training to operate certain types of trucks or transport some classes of cargo. Unfortunately, with experienced truck drivers in short supply, many companies neglect to ensure their drivers have the necessary training and skills to safely perform their jobs.

While the trucking company and its driver generally share joint responsibility for an accident, the actions of another entity or individual can also cause or contribute to a crash. Examples of third-party liability in truck and 18-wheeler accidents include:

  • Cargo Loading Companies: The company that loaded truck may be responsible if a lost load or shifting cargo causes the truck to crash.
  • Mechanics: A mechanic may be found to be at fault if an accident results from incorrectly installed parts, inappropriate repairs, or failure to identify needed repairs.
  • Defective Manufacturers: The manufacturer of a defective truck, trailer, or vehicle component may be responsible if the defects caused or contributed to an accident.

Understanding Comparative Liability

The truth is, truck and 18-wheeler cases aren’t always black and white.

In some cases, the actions or decisions of an injured motorist contribute to the crash, with both the motorist and the truck driver sharing partial responsibility for the accident. However, shared liability does not always mean the injured party is not entitled to compensation from the trucking company or its driver.

Most states have “comparative negligence” laws that allow injured victims to recover damages minus their percentage of responsibility. Even if the injured party is 99% responsible for the accident, they can still recover 1% of the damages.

Texas is among the states that have enacted “modified comparative negligence” laws. If an injured party is found to be partly at fault for the accident, their financial recovery will be reduced by their percentage of fault. However, if it’s determined that their actions were 51% responsible for the crash, they are barred from recovering any compensation at all.

Four states and the District of Columbia apply a rule called “pure contributory negligence” that prohibits injured victims from recovering any damages if they were even 1% responsible for the crash.

One state – South Dakota — follows the “slight/gross fault” doctrine, which only compares the degrees of fault when the injured victim’s negligence is considered “slight,” and the defendant’s negligence is considered “gross.” The state bars injured parties from any recovery if it’s determined that their degree of fault was more than “slight.”

How Do Experienced Truck and 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers Prove Fault?

Proving liability for a truck accident is extremely complex, and even the smallest detail could have an enormous impact on your ability to obtain the maximum compensation possible. Identifying every responsible party will require a thorough investigation and a comprehensive review of all evidence relevant to your case, including:

  • Police report: The official police report detailing the accident.
  • Visual evidence: Photos and/or video of the accident scene.
  • Witness statements: Along with the contact information for said witnesses.
  • Trucking Company Records: Driver logs, training records, the truckers driving history, maintenance and inspection records, etc.

Having successfully represented thousands of truck and 18-wheeler accident victims, it’s been our experience that the trucking company will never voluntarily turn over the documentation needed to prove they and its drive were at fault. Faced with a potentially large – and possibly record-breaking – verdict or settlement, the company is far more likely to drag its feet, “lose,” and even destroy vital evidence to deflect responsibility and avoid paying you and your family all that you are owed.

To counter these tactics, you must hire an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer – one who’s successfully taken on the largest trucking companies in the world — with the resources to bring in top accident reconstruction and medical experts and conduct a complete investigation of your crash. A successful and experienced attorney will also know exactly what evidence you’ll need to prove the trucking company and its driver were at fault, where to find that evidence, and how to ensure all records and documents are preserved before they disappear forever.

Contact our Undefeated Truck Accidents Lawyers for a Free Consultation at 1-888-603-3636 or by Clicking Here

Our Undefeated 18-Wheeler Accident Lawyers have won Billions – including the Largest Accident Settlement in Texas – for crash victims and families against the biggest trucking companies in the world, both in and out of the courtroom.

If you or someone you love were injured or tragically killed in a truck or 18-Wheeler crash, our Experienced Accident Lawyers will devote whatever time and resources are necessary to identify all responsible parties, prove they were at fault, and ensure that you and your family receive the maximum compensation possible for all of your injuries and losses.

Your consultation is always free, and you won’t pay us a dime unless we win your case.

Call 1-888-603-3636, use the “chat now” option on our website, or click here to fill out our confidential contact form.