One of the most critical – and complex – parts of navigating the aftermath of a devastating truck accident is determining who or what caused the collision. Sometimes only one clear factor is the cause, while other cases have multiple contributing factors and potentially multiple responsible parties.
Here’s how fault is determined after a truck accident and what you can do to get the aggressive legal advocacy you need after a Massachusetts or New Hampshire truck accident.
Obtain as Much Evidence as Possible
Preserving and evaluating evidence after a truck accident is crucial to piecing the picture together of how the accident occurred, including what happened before, during, and after the incident.
If you or someone in your party are able to take photographs of the accident, damage to your vehicle, or injuries, these can become some of the most valuable pieces of evidence in your truck accident case. You can also collect the names and telephone numbers of witnesses who would be able to go on record with their testimony of what happened.
If you are too injured to do anything at the scene, begin taking photographs of your injuries as soon as you are able. Have a friend or family member visit your car, which will likely be at a mechanic or salvage yard depending on how significant the damage was. Ask them to take photographs of the damage to your vehicle to help illustrate the gravity of the incident.
The police and your insurance company play an important role in cataloguing the accident and how it occurred, which helps them to determine who to hold liable for the incident.
The police were likely on the scene of the accident already, so be sure to follow up with them to get a copy of your police report. Often, this report includes testimonies from the day of the accident from involved parties and witnesses, as well as the officer’s own impressions and conclusions.
You may have already contacted your motor vehicle insurance company to report the accident; if you haven’t, it’s extremely important that you do so as soon as possible after the collision.
If it was a minor collision, the truck driver may attempt to settle the incident with you privately so their employer doesn’t find out. Accepting a private settlement is generally not in your best interests and can prevent you from getting the fair compensation you deserve.
Consider Potential Responsible Parties
Next, you should evaluate the evidence to determine which responsible parties may be in play. In some cases, more than one party is at fault for causing a truck accident.
- The truck driver. Truck drivers are commonly at fault for accidents when they drive fatigued, text and drive, or are driving the truck under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- The trucking company. The trucking company is responsible for adequately training their drivers and providing safe equipment. If the trucking company was negligent, such as failing to properly train a driver to secure loads, and the poorly secured load caused an accident, the trucking company may be held liable.
- Maintenance crews. Facilities that perform maintenance on commercial trucks are responsible for the quality of the materials they use and the service they provide. They may be held accountable for accidents caused by brake failure, tire blowouts, and other issues that are considered preventable with adequate maintenance.
- Parts manufacturers. Manufacturers of parts for commercial trucks are responsible for providing safe, reliable parts for use in truck build and maintenance. If a manufacturer creates a faulty part and that part can be linked as a contributing factor of an accident, they may be legally accountable for some or all of the damages arising from the collision.
- The city. In some cases, the city or municipality that the accident occurred in may be a responsible or contributing party. For example, if the city failed to notify drivers of road construction or dangerous defects and an accident occurred as a result, the city may be held liable.
Determine if Comparative Negligence Is a Factor
Comparative negligence may be at play in your truck accident case if you were also partly at fault for the incident. For example, if a truck driver was speeding but you pulled your vehicle out in front of them and they did not have enough time to stop before rear-ending you, both of you may be considered responsible for the collision since you were both in the wrong.
How much in the wrong, however, is the factor that impacts the final settlement of a personal injury case. Individuals who are more than 50% responsible for their own accident may not be eligible for financial restitution at all. Alternatively, individuals who are say only 20% responsible for the accident may receive a compensation award, less 20% of the total.
Contact an Experienced Injury Lawyer for Help Determining Who May Be at Fault for Your Truck Accident
The most important thing you or your family can do after someone is injured in a truck accident is to first, reach out for emergency medical help. Truck accidents are devastating, life-threatening, and in many cases, deadly.
Your second move should be to reach out to an experienced truck accident attorney to determine if you have a personal injury case against one or more parties that may be responsible for causing the collision.
Dealing with your insurance company and the large, aggressive insurers and legal teams of commercial trucking companies is harrowing at best and may be impossible for some accident victims to navigate.
At Mazow | McCullough, PC, we serve truck accident victims and their families across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Call today for your consultation to discuss your case details at (978) 744-8000 or toll free at (855) 693-9084.