Truck accident victims suffer some of the most catastrophic injuries and damages because of the trucks' massive impact. Mostly, the victims will sustain severe personal injuries or even lose their loved ones after the gruesome incident. Numerous factors may cause a truck accident, with the blame falling on the truck driver or several other interested parties. Nevertheless, as an aggrieved party, you will be eligible to seek compensation for the harm and losses suffered after involvement in a truck impact accident. The scenarios of such incidences vary, depending on whether you were a pedestrian, motorist, or cyclist. With a proper case element analysis, you can present your claims in a civil court and convince the judge of your grievances on a balance of probabilities.
To develop the best line of argument for your case, you require a professional lawyer who is conversant with the field of personal injury compensation. We at the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney have taken on multiple truck accident cases in the past. We have helped our clients present their case elements clearly and validly to receive a satisfactory amount of damage. Our highly experienced team will do their best to conduct in-depth investigations and collect all evidence supporting your claims, to ensure that our presentation guarantees a win for you.
Filing a Suit After a Truck Accident
Upon becoming the victim of a truck accident, you are likely to sustain some significant injuries, based on the circumstances that led to the incident. Despite the difficulties of getting back to your daily routine, it is critical to contact your lawyer soon after beginning your recovery journey to give your injury attorney enough time to prepare for your suit. Reaching out to your lawyer will promptly save you the stress and pressure of trying to best the time restrictions put in place that bar accident victims from bringing their claims forward after two years in Florida.
After reaching your lawyer and informing him/her of the situation, he/she will begin conducting several investigations that will provide adequate evidence to back up your claims in court. Such evidence is beneficial for you, especially because you carry the onus to prove that the defendant party was in breach and therefore caused the accident that led to your injuries.
Upon gathering adequate sources of evidence, your lawyer will proceed to analyze the elements of your case. In most truck accidents, the fault arises when the defendant acts negligently, meaning that the party failed to adhere to set regulations that require the application of the duty of care.
Possible Defendant Parties to Your Injury Suit
The defendant parties in your civil suit may vary, depending on the person responsible for handling the truck's maintenance, how it was driven, or how it was loaded, among other factors. Consequently, to establish the defendant party in your case, you need to provide all the known facts that occurred before the accident.
The information will help your attorney to link the negligence that led to the accident to the appropriate party. The method used to get to such a conclusion involves the element of causation discussed below. However, here are the parties that are most likely to be found liable for the truck accident:
The Truck Driver
Most accidents shift the blame to the truck driver, primarily because of sudden occurrences on the road caused by reckless driving. For example, if the driver broke a traffic regulation that prohibited excess speed, it may directly lead to a truck accident. Consequently, the driver will carry the blame for acting recklessly and leading to a catastrophic occurrence because of the negligence in abiding by traffic rules.
The Owner of the Truck
Similarly, a truck owner may be found liable for the truck accident because he/she is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. Additionally, the truck owner is responsible for hiring competent truck drivers who qualify for the role, to prevent exposing other motorists to an untrained driver who is likely to cause an accident. Thus, in certain circumstances, the first respondent will be the truck owner, meaning that he/she neglected a critical requirement to ensure that the truck was in good shape and that his/her employees were qualified to drive the truck.
The Truck Leasing Company
Also, if the truck involved in the accident was from a leasing or hiring company, the relevant parties may be answerable if some aspects of negligence were the direct causes of the truck accident. For example, the truck company keeps records of all its drivers to ensure that they meet the requirements set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The body is responsible for issuing all qualifications and restrictions for all vehicles, including trucks. On top of this, the truck company may have low-quality standards on their truck fleets, leaving their drivers to operate hazardous vehicles that may have led to your injury.
Cargo Loading Personnel
Some cases may also involve cargo falling off the truck and landing on your vehicle, mainly if the truck accident occurred in an open highway where you had engaged at high speed. The impact of the fallen cargo can significantly damage your windscreen and may even penetrate and hit your body. Subsequently, you will obtain body injuries that may be mild or severe, depending on the circumstances. Alternatively, the cargo may cause you to swerve out of your lane, causing you to hit vehicles near you. The primary cause of the accident will still be on the truck cargo that fell off. Therefore, the cargo loaders carry some liability for conducting their duties negligently.
The Case Elements to Present in Court
It is crucial to note that your claim will prove that negligence did occur and was the primary cause of the truck accident that brought you harm. Hence, the following are the elements of negligence that your injury attorney will focus on:
The Defendant Owed a Duty of Care
The primary element in any case involving negligence requires the claimant to prove that the defendant was responsible for upholding regulations to promote care to other motorists. In the case of truck accidents, most of the evidence your lawyer uses to establish a duty of care comes from statutory provisions and board regulations. The specific sections to highlight in court are those that prohibit the exact behavior that the defendant in your case engaged in, leading to the truck accident.
Several regulations from The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration set the standard for all truck drivers to observe. This is based on various factors that expect a truck driver or owner to follow in the performance of a duty of care to other motorists. The rules touch on multiple characteristics of the truck, as well as the driver's conduct when on the road.
Firstly, the weight of any truck driven on an interstate or intrastate highway should not exceed 80,000 Pounds. The set weight limit is beneficial in keeping the roads usable even after trucks pass by, mainly because too much weight may suddenly cause the truck to stall on the way, especially at an inclined road section. The consequences of such an occurrence may lead to a severe truck accident, whereby any motorist behind the heavy truck may face the full impact of a backtracking vehicle.
Moreover, a truck driver should not use his/her cell phone when on the road to text or handle the phone otherwise. The responsibility to desist from handling a cell when driving serves to reduce the chances of a truck driver getting distracted, exposing others to impending danger.
Truck drivers should also exercise caution when passing or following another vehicle closely to avoid making reckless turns that commonly end in high impact collisions with accident victims. The federal regulations stipulated by the FMCSA instruct all truck drivers to observe a 300 feet distance between the front part of the truck and the vehicle ahead. With such an allowance, the driver would have an adequate reaction time to prevent the impact onto the car ahead of the truck.
Lastly, no truck driver should operate the vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other mind-altering drugs. The maximum blood alcohol content level for commercial truck drivers is 0.04%, meaning that any reading above this BAC percentage will be a breach of the anti-DUI regulations.
Several other regulations exist to provide the mode of conduct and operational that all truck owners, companies, and drivers should observe. Thus, the regulations impose a duty of care, preventing such parties from negligently conducting their duties, as it may expose other road users to the risk of a truck accident.
The Defendant Breached the Duty of Care
The element of a breach of duty means that the defendant ignored all the mentioned regulations and acted recklessly, causing the truck accident. If the truck driver is the primary respondent responsible for the incident, your lawyer will prove that he/she engaged in reckless driving practices. For example, your injury attorney may rely on evidence that shows that the truck driver was under the influence of alcohol when the incident arose. To demonstrate the validity of the point, your attorney must provide valid evidence from police records and reports indicating the defendant's previous BAC readings and any readings collected after the accident.
Information concerning the driver's failure to observe traffic regulations, engaging excessive speed in restricted areas as well as failing to check truck blindspot will be useful in proving the driver's breach of care. Your injury attorney may conduct interviews on the respondent to obtain the required information. Additionally, he/she can also conduct interviews on the traffic officers present at the accident scene who may have picked up on the driver's faults that ultimately led to the truck accident. With such officers' help, you will obtain essential details that are useful in determining the breaches that the driver resulted in by failing to observe the regulations set in place to prevent such accidents.
If the truck company is to blame for the accident because of several breaches it engaged in, your injury lawyer should look into the company policies concerning their worker's qualifications and working conditions. For example, your lawyer may obtain information concerning the intense pressure that the truck company sets on its drivers to deliver goods within a short timeframe. Subsequently, such a driver may have to work for long hours under the company's directives, leading to high fatigue levels as well as working timeline breaches.
Under the FMCSA regulations, a truck driver transporting property should work for a maximum of twelve hours per day, while those carrying cargo should work for eleven hours. The truck company or owner must also ensure that the driver receives a working break of at least thirty-four hours before beginning another long hour shift. Thus, while the driver is involved in the direct breach, the company will be vicariously liable for a truck accident because of the high demands and deadlines it sets on the truck driver.
Also, the truck company's breach orchestrated may arise from its failure to confirm that its workers meet all the qualifications set for a Florida truck driver. Thus, your lawyer may request to go through the Driver Qualification File of the truck driver involved in your accident. Some of the basic requirements that the driver must have met include:
- Possession of a commercial driving license
- Ability to operate a truck safely
- Ability to load and secure truck cargo
- Continuous good health
From reviewing the Driver Qualification File, your lawyer can obtain information concerning the driver's DUI reviews, employment history, and the hours spent on the road. Details on the driver's training certificates should also be present in the qualifications file. Thus, if your lawyer is unable to find such documents, the company will be in breach by employing an unverified truck driver who ended up causing an accident.
The Defendant's Breach was the Cause of the Truck Accident
The third element requires you to prove that the defendant's breach of the responsibilities to exercise care caused the truck accident. In this case, several methods of determining the causation element will depend on the responsible party.
For example, if the defendant is the driver, your lawyer will rely on surveillance footage and witness statements to prove that the driver engaged in reckless control of the vehicle right before the accident. Obtaining footage from surveillance cameras mounted on the road provides adequate information to confirm that the driver drove past a stop sign, ignored traffic lights, or exceeded the speed restrictions before the accident. Also, extra high definition cameras may record footage of the driver handling a cellphone contrary to traffic regulations.
Witness statements also come in handy because the testimonies corroborate the footage and other evidentiary sources that your attorney presents during the proceedings. For example, if someone was present as the truck accident occurred, he/she may provide essential details for the judge to consider to justify your claims of causation. Moreover, some witnesses may have video records of the accident from phone footage they recorded. All these sources of evidence will help you build a substantial cause to prove the defendant's direct causation.
The same methods apply where the truck owner or company is the respondent you seek damages from. You will need to gather sufficient evidence to prove that the owner/company was complacent in checking that the truck in question met all the safety and quality checks regularly. An essential source of information to determine this would be from the maintenance records available in the Driver Qualification File. Your injury lawyer can retrieve details to prove that the truck owner or company did not fulfill the requirements expected to maintain the truck with the scrutiny of all the available information.
You will also require a professional accident reconstruction expert who will help demonstrate the 'but for' legal causation aspect. From the reconstruction expert's statement, your lawyer can verify that the accident would not have occurred for the defendant's negligent operation. You will have to run over the facts of the case several times, mainly because you are the primary victim of the accident. If the judge accepts your claims, you will have established the element of causation successfully.
The Truck Accident Resulted in Damages
The last case element to build in the procedure involves proving that you sustained significant losses and injuries directly caused by the truck accident. While this may appear easy to fulfill, the defendant's lawyer will be well equipped to counter any claims you make as he/she tries to discredit you. Therefore, you need to prepare for all the claims of damages you will raise adequately, to avoid allowing the defendants to discredit you. A typical example of the defendant's tactics includes demanding evidence that you did not have an underlying condition that worsened any injuries you suffered from the accident.
After a truck accident, you will seek compensation for:
Doubtless, a truck accident often leads to numerous fatalities, with the fortunate victims sustaining severe injuries. While your life is spared after such an incident, the injuries you suffer from may change your life entirely, mainly if they affect delicate body parts.
Suffering from spinal injuries from the accident could be life-threatening, primarily because of the possibility of paralysis that comes with such an injury. Consequently, you may be unable to engage all your limbs and other body parts as before, leading to a complete life change.
You may also sustain bone fractures, especially on your arms and legs. Fractures often take a long time to heal and limit your movement and independence to perform specific tasks.
Traumatic brain injuries are common after a truck accident, especially if you hit your head severely after the impact. While some patients suffer from mild symptoms like dizziness afterward, you may be exposed to more adverse effects like concussions or amnesia after a brain injury. In a worst-case scenario, the accident victim may fall into a coma for a long time.
Loss of Wages
If your accident resulted in adverse conditions that hinder you from working, you will likely lose your wages or earning capacity. For example, your career may be cut short if your line of work requires active movement around the workspace. If you face permanent paralysis or amputation, you will find it difficult to return to your original job. Therefore, the loss of wages and future earning capacity warrants compensation from the defendants because they cause a truck accident.
Sometimes, you may file a suit on behalf of a loved one who died from the truck accident. In doing so, you must follow several regulations that require proof of a close relationship with the deceased as either a dependent or someone who was listed as a beneficiary to the estate. The compensation claim for wrongful death may include all the funeral expenses your family had to bear and the loss of consortium.
A wrongful death claim should also encompass the loss of future income support if the accident victim was the primary breadwinner.
After sustaining injuries and seeking treatment, you are bound to pay for all medical expenses to secure release from the hospital. In some cases, your medical insurance cover may be insufficient in making all payments required resulting in out of pocket payments. As an accident victim, you need to receive compensation for all the expenses spent on medical care to ensure that you are reimbursed for the financial constraints faced.
In raising all these claims, the judge will require evidence to prove the actual figures spent in each of the situations. Therefore, you should retain all your medical bill receipts, prescription forms, and appointment documents of accumulated medical expenses from the accident. You should also ensure that your income details are available to help the judge make an accurate calculation of the compensation you need for the loss of your job.
In following all the requirements and steps used to establish the case elements, your compensatory suit will yield fruitful results.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
After facing a truck accident, you need a well-experienced attorney to help you lay the legal basis for your suit. While establishing all the necessary case elements may be challenging, seeking the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney services will set you on the right track. With our successful history in helping clients handle their injury suits, you can trust us to deliver the best litigation services you need to receive compensation after suffering damages from a truck accident. Call us today at 904-800-7557.