Truck AccidentHow to Prove Liability in a Truck Accident Claim

May 17, 2023

Being involved in a truck accident is horrific, and the injuries can be life-changing for any involved party. Naturally, such accidents leave sufferers with a right to claim compensation to cover damages. However, unlike regular car accidents, more players are involved behind the scenes, meaning determining liability can be tricky. Throughout this article, we’re going to discuss each potentially liable party and what evidence is needed to receive the compensation you deserve.

The Trucker is at Fault

The most obvious liable party is the trucker, so they would be the first avenue to investigate. There are many reasons why truck drivers may be at fault, but here are the most common ones:

  • Driver aggression. Trucking is stressful work, and drivers may demonstrate “road rage”, which can lead to unnecessary driving maneuvers.
  • Speeding. Driving too fast reduces stopping time and can lead to loss of control.
  • Driving under the influence – alcohol or drugs. Some people turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with the stress of their job – this can have deadly consequences on the road.
  • Driving recklessly. A lack of care for other road users – any action outside of the ordinary would be deemed reckless.
  • Distractions. Whether it’s a mobile phone or other dashboard gadgets, being distracted has devastating consequences.
  • Violations of working hours. Truckers have strict time limits on how long they can work, but some drivers and companies flout the rules to get jobs completed quicker. Driving while overworked and tired can lead to collisions.
  • Inspection failures. Truck drivers must check their vehicles before hitting the road. A mechanical issue may cause an accident.
  • Poor training. If the quality of training is poor, this will trickle down into the way a trucker drives. It is not necessarily their fault, but they may still be driving while fully aware they lack the skills.

Any of the negligent actions above can lead to serious injuries or even wrongful death, and you have the right to receive compensation.

The Truck Company is at Fault

In some cases, the trucker’s employer may be at fault for an accident. However, proving trucker company liability is challenging, which is why you will need a reputable lawyer on your side. There are many negligent actions a trucking company may take, including cutting corners with inspections, not providing adequate training, and pushing truck driver boundaries.

In some cases, there is joint liability between the employer and the truck manufacturer, especially if there has been any form of vehicle manipulation to increase the maximum speed capabilities. In the majority of cases, you will need to source an expert witness to prove this. A truck accident lawyer can help you here.

The Truck Owner is at Fault

The truck driver employee may not own the truck, which means liability would likely fall with the owner of the truck. For example, if a company leases a truck, they expect to receive the truck in good working order. Additionally, the owner of the truck would be liable to inspect the truck.

The federal government has strict regulations on the maintenance of trucks, which includes keeping on top of all brakes, tires, electronics, and fluid checks, and repairing any issues before allowing the truck to hit the road. Owners breaching these regulations would put them in the line of fire when it comes to liability.

The Truck Manufacturer is at Fault

The manufacturer of the truck – or of the different parts – may be liable in truck accident cases. For example, if there’s an internal mechanical failure or the tire blows out, the manufacturer of the part would be to blame. Again, proving that the issues began at the manufacturing stage can be tricky, which is why you need to have legal experts on your side.

The Cargo Loader is at Fault

Truck cargo must be loaded properly to ensure even distribution of weight. If the loads aren’t secured properly or care isn’t made during the loading process, the cargo loaders may be at fault. In some cases, this won’t be the trucker’s employer or the truck owner.

Proving that the party responsible for loading the truck is liable will be one of the most difficult. To investigate this properly, you will need an accident lawyer on your side, as they have the necessary power to reach the necessary company records.

The Fundamental Elements of Negligence Claims

Truckers, truck companies, manufacturers, and cargo-loading parties should all have various insurance policies in place to protect them in the event of an accident lawsuit. With this in mind, the majority of cases settle outside of court, as this is much more effective than having a case dragged through the public court.

In the event of a settlement not being reached, a lawyer can assist you in taking the case to court. To prove the negligence of any party, the following elements must be established:

  • A duty of care. The responsible party much have a direct duty of care to the injured party.
  • A breach of said duty of care. There must be evidence that the liable party was in breach of this duty of care.
  • Causation. There must be direct evidence to prove that the actions of the liable party were wholly – or partially – responsible for the injuries and damages suffered by the victim.
  • Damages. There must have been injuries and damages.

Types of Evidence Needed to Prove Liability

Proving each of the elements listed above can be tricky and will involve collecting evidence and keeping accurate records. Here are some of the critical pieces of evidence you will need to have:

  • Witness statements – road users and experts.
  • Phone footage or records.
  • Driver logs and company records.
  • Medical records.
  • Forensic evidence – vehicle damage, skid marks, improper loading, and truck issues.

You have to begin collecting this evidence as soon as you’re able to, as you will only have two years from the date of the accident to put in your claim. After getting in touch with a personal injury lawyer, you will have someone on your side that can dig deeper than you.

If you need expert legal advice following a truck accident, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us using the details below.

  • Olympia – 400 Union Ave SE, Ste 200, Olympia, WA 98501
  • Tacoma – 1107 1/2 Tacoma Avenue S, Tacoma, WA 98402

Call now for a free consultation on (253) 383-4500 and (360) 338-6886.

We exist to champion the injured.


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