A commercial trucking company will usually dispatch its team of accident investigators to the scene of an accident as soon as it learns that one of its vehicles was involved. If you or a loved one was injured in a commercial truck accident, it may be in your best interest to involve an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible so that he or she can preserve evidence that may prove invaluable. Truck accident lawsuits are usually much more complex than those for accidents involving only passenger automobiles, so your attorney will require some time to prepare your truck accident claim and file a suit within the local statute of limitations.
To secure a successful outcome, it will need to be shown that the defendant failed in his or her duty to exercise reasonable care and that this failure was the cause of the accident and the injuries. Your attorney will also need to identify all of the defendants that potentially contributed to the accident. Those who may bear responsibility for your injuries include the truck driver, his or her trucking company, and the company’s clients, outside contractors and insurance company.
To hold the trucking company liable, your attorney will need to show that it exercised some degree of control over the truck driver. Trucking companies that engage in interstate commerce or operate semi-trucks have a responsibility to perform background checks before hiring drivers and they must also evaluate their employees periodically. Truck drivers also have additional licensing requirements and are required to have special training.
If the truck driver involved is an independent contractor of a larger company, it may be more difficult to establish liability of third parties. In such a cases, a key issue becomes the amount of supervision that was done by the company. Trucking companies, employers and contractors may have separate insurance policies, so determining the potential liability of each entity for the accident becomes vital in assessing recovery through their respective insurance coverages. If a shipper fails to inform the trucking company that the load contained hazardous material, it also may be held liable if the material causes injury when released or if it catches fire in an accident.
Finally, there are certain dangers unique to the operation of large commercial trucks that are not present where passenger cars are concerned. These include jackknifing and turning accidents. If a truck jackknifes, it is not in itself evidence of operator negligence. The operator may be held non-negligent, for example, if the truck jackknifed due to an abrupt turn undertaken to avoid a stalled vehicle or if there was unforeseeable slipperiness of the road’s surface.
It is often necessary for a large truck to use two lanes in making a turn. This is also not necessarily evidence of operator negligence although some courts have established that an accident resulting from such a maneuver is sufficient to establish fault. This is particularly the case when the turn was from an inside lane and the rear wheels did not clear parked vehicles or other obstacles.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an accident involving a large truck anywhere in the United States, you should retain an experienced trucking accident attorney to help you get the most from your claim.
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