If you’ve been hurt in an accident with a commercial truck, you may strongly believe that the driver of the truck was at fault for the collision but you may be unsure how to prove it. It is not uncommon for truck drivers, trucking companies, and their insurers to be unwilling to admit that the driver was at fault for a crash. They may even accuse you of having contributed to or even caused the crash.
It can be difficult for the average person to obtain the evidence necessary to prove truck driver negligence. That’s why it is critical that you hire an experienced truck accident attorney to conduct an independent investigation of the crash, collect and analyze all of the evidence, and determine cause of the crash as well as all possible liable parties.
Spiva Law Group has been fighting for clients all over Georgia for over three decades. We will discuss all of your legal options as soon as you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Types of Trucker Negligence in a Truck Accident
A person is considered to be negligent if they do something that violates an expected duty of care, usually causing injury. Some of the most common examples of truck driver negligence include:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Drugs or Alcohol — Drunk or drugged driving is prohibited for all drivers, but commercial truck drivers actually face even stricter blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits than the people operating traditional passenger vehicles. Whereas most motorists can be arrested for DUI if they have a BAC of 0.08, a truck driver is considered intoxicated when they have a BAC of only 0.04.
- Speeding — Commercial trucks that are operating in excess of posted speed limits have significantly reduced stopping distances and drivers may be more exposed to possible loss of control.
- Reckless Driving — A truck driver may have been operating in some other dangerous manner that is considered reckless.
- Aggressive Driving — A truck driver could show signs of possible “road rage” and perform any one of a number of unnecessarily aggressive tactics that lead accidents.
- Hours of Service (HOS) Violations — Truck drivers are strictly limited in the number of hours they can work in a day or week, and some drivers knowingly violate these limits in an effort to complete deliveries faster. Drivers and trucking companies may alter or destroy records of possible HOS violations in some cases.
- Distracted Driving — Commercial truck drivers are prohibited under federal law from using cell phones or other mobile devices while they are driving. Talking or text messaging on cell phones remains a common cause of many car accidents, and truck drivers are certainly among the motorists susceptible to urges to respond to recent notifications on their mobile devices.
- Improper Lane Changes — Commercial trucks have enormous blind spots, and some drivers cause accidents when they make lane changes without properly accounting for those blind spots.
- Failure to Inspect Vehicle — Truck drivers have an obligation to inspect their vehicles before taking to the road. It may be possible that a driver is responsible for a crash that results from a mechanical defect that could have been identified in a pre-trip inspection.
- Improper Training — Some drivers imply do not receive the necessary training to perform certain maneuvers safely.
- Other Traffic Violations — A truck driver could also be considered negligent for any one of a number of other common traffic violations, such as failure to stop at a traffic sign or light.
You need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible after a truck wreck so critical evidence can be preserved. Insurance companies for most commercial trucks may act quickly to minimize evidence of a driver’s negligence.
The Investigation after a Truck Accident
Trucking companies and their insurers often act very quickly to have adjusters and investigators dispatched to crash scenes. You should make sure that you have somebody on your side doing the same thing.
An experienced attorney will be able to immediately analyze how the accident happened and determine the true cause of the collision. Many different types of evidence could be collected at the actual scene of the accident, and other kinds of evidence could be uncovered in separate investigations into company paperwork or files.
What Is Needed to Prove Negligence in a Georgia Truck Accident?
Most truck accident cases are resolved through settlements. Some cases may go to trial, and a victim will have to prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence.
The four basic elements of most negligence claims are:
- Duty of Care — The truck driver had a duty to the victim to operate the truck in a safe and reasonable manner.
- Breach of Duty — The truck driver breached that duty of care by not conducting themselves safely and reasonably.
- Causation — The truck driver’s breach of duty of care caused the victim’s injuries.
- Damages — The victim’s injuries resulted in damages.
When a victim successfully proves these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, they may be awarded compensatory damages for their medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Employer’s Liability for Trucker’s Negligence
A trucking company could be liable for many driver actions. For example, a trucking company could be liable in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver if the driver had a prior record of drunk or drugged driving convictions.
Similarly, many HOS violations also involve a trucking company being aware of the violations. Trucking companies can often be held liable for negligent hiring decisions.
Respondeat superior (the Latin phrase for “let the master answer”) is the legal doctrine that allows an employer to be held liable for the acts of an employee. It is more commonly known as vicarious liability, and commercial truck accidents are an extremely common area for these types of claims.
Even if the trucking company wasn’t directly negligent, it can still be held liable for its employee’s actions under vicarious liability. In an attempt to duck this type of responsibility, some trucking companies call their drivers “independent contractors.” However, the courts look to the facts of the employer-employee relationship to determine liability, not just the label the company applies.
Contact Us Now for Help Proving Negligence in a Georgia Truck Accident Claim
Did you sustain serious injuries or was your loved one killed in a commercial truck crash caused by a driver’s negligence in Savannah or a surrounding area of Georgia? Make sure that you hire an experienced truck accident lawyer with the right skills and experience to handle your case.
Spiva Law Group understands how to investigate and prove truck driver negligence. We will fight to seek all of the compensation you are entitled to. Call us or contact us online to receive a free consultation. Check out our truck accident e-book for more information about truck accident lawsuits in Savannah