In this podcast, John Maher chats with Robert Hartigan and Rob Mazow from Mazow McCullough. They cover liability, negligence, and fault in truck accidents, and they explain the importance of contacting an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. And I’m here today with Rob Mazow and Robert Hartigan of the law firm, Mazow McCullough, a personal injury law firm with offices in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Today. We’re talking about how to determine fault after a truck accident. Rob and Robert, welcome.
Rob Mazow: Thanks, John.
Robert Hartigan: All right. Thanks, John.
Fault in Commercial Truck Accidents
John: So what does fault mean in terms of a truck accident and who can be at fault?
Robert: Well, John, so commercial trucking accidents are a lot more complex than your everyday car accidents. When you have a commercial truck that’s involved in an accident, you’re dealing with a vehicle that weighs around 70,000 to 80,000 pounds versus a sedan that might be about 3000 pounds. And these accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and death.
Given that commercial trucks travel all throughout the country, they are held to the regulations by the Federal Motor Carrier and Safety Administration. And with that, it really gets into not only state law, but federal law. So you’re dealing with cases that do go into federal court. And also there’s a number of different potential defendants that you can go after as a result of an accident.
Rob: Yeah. And a lot of times when we’re looking at faults, I mean, we want to make sure that this driver has been doing everything he or she is supposed to be doing, logging everything properly, has gotten enough sleep, has been stopping when they’re supposed to stop, has been following all the rules and regulations that are required by his employer, his or her employer, and has been doing proper inspections. I mean, there’s a lot that goes into it when we are looking to see who’s at fault here, but it’s key to make sure that we get all that proper documentation that’s supposed to be by the driver.
Truck Accident Lawsuits in New Hampshire Vs Massachusetts
John: Right. So now you guys work in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Are there any differences in terms of how those two states handle truck accidents and fault?
Rob: Go ahead, Robert.
Robert: Yeah. I would say they’re pretty much the same as far as how New Hampshire and Massachusetts would handle them. Again, I think you’re going to be looking at the federal regulations and in a lot of these cases, you’re going to have the victim from one state, the truck driver from another state and the company may be located somewhere else. So that’s why these cases do often end up in federal court. So I think Massachusetts and New Hampshire, it’s going to be negligence under state law, and it’s going to be throwing in the federal regulations and those violations
Difference Between Fault and Negligence
John: You brought up negligence. Is that the same thing as fault, and if not, how did they differ?
Rob: It’s the same thing. It’s whether or not the truck driver fell below the standard of care of reasonable truck drivers. So fault and negligence, we’re talking about the same thing. And what we have to determine is whether or not the truck driver fell below the standard of care or breached the standard of care required of a reasonable truck driver.
Is it reasonable for a truck driver to drive 65 miles an hour in a snowstorm? Maybe, maybe not, but if they cause an accident, we would argue that that would be negligent driving. Is it negligent for a truck driver to drive 65 miles an hour in a straightaway clear sunny day? Maybe not. So those are the things that we would be looking at, when we’re looking at determining whether or not a truck driver is at fault for a crash.
Assessing Liability in Truck Accident Cases
Robert: And then there’s also potential liability against any, for example, like a wheel manufacturer, if the wheel came off the truck, or the tire manufacturer. So this is why they’re a lot more complex cases than your everyday car accident.
John: Right. Because you could be going after the driver, if the driver was at fault. Maybe it’s the trucking company itself in the case where maybe they’re not doing their due diligence in terms of hiring the right people, or the way that they’re having their drivers be certified or something like that. It could be a parts manufacturer, like you said, whoever made the wheels, if there’s something faulty with that. So there’s a number of different areas or places where you could potentially be going after in terms of getting compensation for a truck accident, right?
Robert: Yeah. Exactly. And then the catastrophic injury and death cases, sometimes the NTSB will investigate to find out what went wrong. And also this is why it’s so important to contact a lawyer, right after a commercial trucking accident, because the law firm is going to want to also do their own independent investigation to the accident.
Get Legal Help After a Truck Accident
John: All right. Well, that’s really great information. Rob and Robert, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Rob: Thank you, John.
Robert: Thank you.
John: And for more information, visit the firm’s website at helpinginjured.com or call 855-693-9084.