Truck drivers have a legal obligation to keep themselves and others safe on the road. When they fail to do this and cause an accident, they may be liable for any damages or injuries that are caused. At Thomas, Conrad & Conrad, our truck accident lawyers have successfully recovered compensation for injured victims in all types of cases involving commercial vehicles. Learning more about how our personal injury lawyers prove driver negligence after a truck accident can help you understand why these claims are so complex.
Causes of Truck Accidents Involving Negligence
Intoxication – A truck driver who drinks or uses drugs can cause deadly accidents. Being under the influence of substances leads to lack of coordination, delayed reaction times, reduced concentration, and impaired vision. Truckers who use amphetamines and other drugs to stay awake may exercise extremely poor judgment and may become aggressive on the road.
Fatigued Driving – The effects of drowsy driving are very similar to those that occur when driving drunk. Unfortunately, many truck companies cajole drivers into driving long hours without stopping to rest, even though it is against the law and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. Thousands of avoidable truck accidents occur each year due to this type of negligence.
Lack of training– Maneuvering large vehicles such as tractor-trailers requires specialized training. An untrained, inexperienced driver who doesn’t know how to properly operate a vehicle or avoid common hazards can cause catastrophic injuries, property damage, and fatalities when involved in a truck accident.
Distracted driving – Driver distraction is a serious problem on roadways in the United States, and truck drivers are no exception. In addition to the distraction of a smartphone, a driver may wreck when fiddling with GPS, work logs, the radio, or other equipment. A driver who takes their eyes off the road for just a few seconds can easily be involved in an accident like a rear-end collision, which can lead to chain reactions and deadly situations such as multi-car pileups.
Reckless driving – Speeding and reckless driving jeopardize the safety of everyone on the road. When a truck driver engages in these types of dangerous behaviors, the consequences can be fatal.
Improperly loaded cargo – Truckers have a responsibility to ensure that cargo is safely and properly loaded. Unbalanced loads can cause rollovers, jackknifing, and other types of serious accidents.
Duty of Care
Proving truck driver negligence involves four elements, including:
- The driver had a duty of care to act in a reasonable manner
- The driver breached that duty
- Victims suffered injury, damages, or losses
- Victims suffered apparent, provable damages or losses due to that breach of duty
Trucking companies, maintenance and repair companies, cargo loaders, parts manufacturers, and vehicle manufacturers also owe a duty of care. If they are found to be negligent, they may be liable for damages as well.
Investigating And Proving Truck Driver Negligence
If you believe a truck driver was a fault for causing an accident, it’s vital to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. These claims are complex and require exhaustive investigation and examination. FMCSA regulations often come into play when proving negligence, and if you’re unfamiliar with these rules and laws you may not know how they apply. A truck accident lawyer who has experience in this area of the law knows what type of relevant evidence to gather and how to put it all together to build a solid case for driver negligence. Examples of evidence that can be vital in proving a case include:
- Training documentation
- The operator’s driving record
- Medical records
- Drug and alcohol testing results
- Driver logs, which include the number of hours a driver was active on the road, breaks, stops, and other information
- Travel and engine data from the truck’s black box recorder
- Cell phone records
- Maintenance and repair records
- Evidence of previous accidents or claims
- Photos of the scene, skid marks, and property damage
- Witness statements
- Police reports
Obtaining some of this evidence may require a subpoena, and it is virtually impossible for a layperson to sift through and make sense of it all. Truck accident attorneys often hire expert witnesses such as accident reconstructionists to piece together how an accident happened and determine who is at fault. They also know how to scrutinize and analyze evidence such as phone records to determine whether a driver was texting or talking on the phone at the time of the crash.
Contact A Truck Accident Attorney
If you’ve been injured or have lost a loved one in a truck accident, don’t let an insurance company keep you from obtaining the full and fair recovery you deserve. Our truck accident lawyers at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad can evaluate your case and advise you of your options. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or call our Bethlehem office at 610-867-2900. We serve clients throughout eastern Pennsylvania.