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How Do I Prove Negligence in a Truck Accident Case?

A black car and a white semi truck on the road after a head-on collision with each other.

Negligence is “the failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another,” according to the Oxford Dictionary. The best way to prove negligence is first to understand what qualifies as reasonable care and then determine whether or not that care was given.

Truck accident cases are complex and very detailed. Seeking compensation for damages revolves around proving negligence. Proving fault can be extremely challenging. Truck drivers have high standards to uphold because they are professional drivers and must abide by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They are working for commercial reasons under the supervision of an employer and must conduct themselves accordingly. All drivers have a duty of care to others on the road. The party that is guilty of breaching this duty is then held liable for damages.

The best way to prove negligence in a truck accident case is to hire a personal injury lawyer. These attorneys specialize in gathering information to build a solid case on your behalf while protecting you from aggressive insurance companies. According to the staff at FindLaw, your lawyer will have to prove four things to win your negligence case. Those four things are:

  1. Duty – The person or entity accused was expected to act in a safe manner and achieve a certain level of care in their actions that affected the victim. Examples of this are the driver being expected to follow the rules of the road while operating the truck, or the trucking company fulfilling the required background checks when hiring the driver.
  2. Breach – The actions or inactions of the accused went against the duty owed to the victim. This breach is what the accused actually did wrong.
  3. Causation – The breach of duty in fact caused the victim harm. This is where the choices made by the accused are linked to your accident.
  4. Damages – There had to have been some sort of damage caused by the negligence in order to be compensated. Damages include property damage and medical expenses.

The knowledgeable St. Louis truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer will investigate your accident to determine fault and maximize your claim. The truck driver is at fault if they:

  • Drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Text or use a handheld phone while driving
  • Overload their trailer with freight
  • Drive with unbalanced cargo or an uneven distribution of weight
  • Speed
  • Drive too closely to the car ahead of them
  • Fail to perform their pre-trip inspection
  • Disregard posted warnings for hills, curves, or intersections
  • Drive recklessly during adverse weather conditions
  • Fail to adhere to sleep requirements

Proving any of these actions will mean the driver is guilty of negligence, and they will be responsible for paying reparations to the victim or their family.

Common Types of Accidents Caused by Truck Driver Negligence

Every commercial truck accident is terrifying because of the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. The damage they cause with the slightest miscalculation is catastrophic. Cars are easier to handle and often give drivers a false sense of security. Most accidents involving a truck are caused by the unpredictable actions of the drivers in cars around them, but there are times when the truck driver is at fault. Some common types of accidents caused by truck driver negligence are:

  1. Rollovers

Semi-trucks have a higher center of gravity than other vehicles. The center of gravity varies depending on the cargo and how it was loaded into the trailer. Truck drivers must be very cautious when navigating curves, swerving, and making tight turns. Turning too quickly, swerving around an obstacle in the road, or driving over a curb while turning a corner could cause the load to shift, toppling the trailer. Drivers need to be aware of the road ahead and slow down or make necessary lane changes ahead of time. Distractions, speed, and fatigue are all examples of proof of negligence in these cases.

  1. Rear-End Collisions

Commercial trucks need more distance to stop than a car. It is of vital importance that trucks do not ever tailgate the vehicle ahead of them. The FMCSA recommends safe following-distances drivers must lengthen if weather or road conditions are poor. The size and weight of a truck make them massive compared to a car, and an impact would completely destroy the smaller vehicle. These accidents are devastating but usually preventable when a truck driver is diligent.

  1. Jackknife

When a truck slows down, but the trailer keeps its full momentum, a tractor-trailer can lose its straight-line configuration, and the trailer will swing out to the side of the cab. This angle creates the shape of a jackknife, hence the name. A 53-foot trailer traveling sideways down the interstate affects multiple lanes of traffic. It may collide with and push nearby vehicles through traffic, causing a massive pileup.

Driver negligence is often the cause of this phenomenon. Improper braking, especially in slippery road conditions, results in the trailer sliding out of control. Cars can be at fault for causing a truck to jackknife when they dart in front of trucks and immediately slow down, forcing the truck driver to brake quickly. Liability lies with the truck driver when they are driving too fast for road conditions or following too closely.

  1. Head-On Collisions

The last thing you want to see while driving is a semi-truck driving straight toward you. Driver fatigue is a common cause of this type of accident. Truck drivers spend long hours behind the wheel every day, and the monotony combined with fatigue can cause drivers to nod off and drift into oncoming traffic. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can also be the source of negligence involved. Reckless driving, such as passing slower vehicles without adequate visibility or swerving into oncoming traffic lanes to avoid an obstacle in the road, has also caused head-on collisions with trucks.

  1. Sideswipes

Driving alongside a large truck is never safe. Commercial trucks have much larger blind spots than cars. The drivers are unable to see the smaller cars traveling right beside them. Commercial driver’s license holders must be aware of the location of all nearby vehicles on the road to avoid a collision. Even a minor distraction can result in a truck crossing into another lane and colliding with another vehicle. If the driver decides to change lanes but does not see a car beside it due to their blind spot or failure to adequately check their mirrors, a sideswipe occurs.

  1. Wide Turn Collisions

Semi-tractor trailers have a vast turning radius. Dry vans typically deliver to local stores, so they must maneuver through tight streets and sharp corners not designed with large trucks in mind. Driving in these close areas is even more complicated with heavy traffic. Right turns are especially problematic. Long trucks often have to begin their right-hand turn by first moving into the left lane so that their trailer will stay clear of the curb. It is common for drivers of passenger vehicles not to know this and ignore the truck driver’s signal for the turn. They will drive up beside the truck into their most significant blind spot and are quickly closed in when the truck driver begins to turn. The large truck would crush this car if the driver were not watching for this common scenario.

  1. T-Bone Accidents

All drivers should use extra caution when traversing any intersection. Some drivers blatantly ignore red lights and risk everyone’s life by charging through an intersection. More commonly, drivers of all vehicle types will try to get through on the yellow light. Trucks often do this to avoid hard braking if they do not expect the light to change or when they are in a hurry. Both of these reasons are negligent behavior because they disregard safety. Whether the car hits the truck or the truck hits the car, these accidents are deadly.

Your personal injury lawyer will investigate your accident to determine who is at fault. When truck drivers are at fault, the trucking companies they work for are also commonly found negligent because employers are responsible for the actions of their employees. The insurance companies will also investigate the accident to find negligence elsewhere, thereby lessening their own responsibility.

Your lawyer knows all the rules and regulations for truck drivers and their companies. Discuss all the details of your accident with your lawyer as soon as possible after the accident happens so nothing is left out and to avoid any mistakes that could jeopardize your claim. Your lawyer will answer all of your questions and negotiate your case on your behalf. You are not responsible for damages that occurred through no fault of your own actions, and you have the right to claim financial compensation. If you are partially at fault, you can still file for damages if you are less than 50% responsible for the collision.

Using reasonable care and following Federal Safety Regulations are the best ways to prevent accidents. When someone decides to break the law, their actions indicate that your safety is not important to them. Professional drivers, above others, must be held accountable for this blatant disrespect of everyone around them because their negligent actions can cause exponential harm. Personal injury lawyers find these violations and hold the negligent party accountable.

We Have the Experience and Knowledge to Help You – Contact Goldblatt + Singer: The St. Louis Injury Law Firm

Our team of experienced attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer is diligent and reliable. We know how to handle trucking companies and their insurance companies. Legal representation through our firm gives you peace of mind knowing that we are working for the best possible settlement on your behalf. Our most important priority is your recovery, so let us handle your case while you recuperate. Contact the truck accident attorneys at Goldblatt + Singer at (314) 231-4100 to schedule your free consultation. We will review the details of your accident and discuss how we can support you through the legal process.

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