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Determining Fault in Truck Accidents

Which Parties Are to Blame in Truck Accidents?

Crashes involving large trucks kill roughly 4,000 people every year on average. For the families of those who pass away as well as those people lucky enough to survive, one of the most important questions has to do with fault. Who is to blame in truck accidents?

The Concept of Negligence

The right truck accident lawyer will be well-versed with the concept of negligence. Negligence is a legal term that has to do with carelessness. In society, duties are imposed on various parties. For instance, parents have duties to protect their children. Teachers and others who work with kids have duties to report abuse. Those are specific duties, but all people have general duties. You have a duty to behave like a reasonable person would in any given situation. If you fail to behave reasonably and that failure leads to the injury of another person, then you can be held responsible for the damages that follow.

There are many different ways that at-fault parties in a truck accident case can be negligent. Accident liability can stem from a poor hiring decision made by a company that puts truckers out on the road. It can flow from a failure to properly maintain the trucks. It can even flow from a trucker not getting enough sleep. In some cases, it can be something simpler. Many personal injury attorneys see cases in which truckers were messing with their phones or with the radio. If an instance arises where a person deviates from the standard of reasonableness, then he or she may be found negligent.

Accident Liability for the Maker of the Truck

Good truck accident lawyers will often look first to the manufacturer of the truck when determining who's at fault in a given situation. Truck manufacturers are under a duty to design their trucks well and manufacture them in such a way that they're safe. Because trucks are massive pieces of equipment, many things can potentially go wrong. Axles can be built poorly, causing the truck to lose control. Brakes can be too small or too weak to handle the weight of the truck. Constituent part makers, like those that produce the tires, can fail to take proper precautions when fastening the rubber to the wheel itself.

accident liability, at fault, personal injuryThe right Allentown truck accident lawyer will look to the people who produced the truck to see whether any defects might have occurred. This process will often require you, the client, to provide as many details as you can remember. While digging into the liability of truck manufacturers can eventually turn into a precise and technical practice, the first step is figuring out why the accident took place. If you remember seeing a tire fly from the side of the truck before it hit you, for instance, then this fact can be very helpful in establishing the negligence of the truck maker. A good personal injury lawyer in these cases will investigate every angle of the case to see whether negligence can be shown.

Holding the Trucking Company Responsible

Your Allentown truck accident lawyer can tell you that the trucking company is sometimes responsible in bad accidents. If you happen to be hit by a truck, your lawyer will ask hard questions about the driver's qualifications, his or her training, and any safety standards that might have been missed. What process did the trucking company have in place to drug test drivers? Did they give drivers enough time to sleep, or did they pressure drivers to log more hours? Looking at the policies of companies as well as how they've acted in the past can provide insight into whether these companies should be held responsible for your injuries.

The Concept of Respondeat Superior

The Latin term "respondeat superior" means that the superior party is responsible for the actions of its underlings. If an employee was acting within the scope of his employment, as a truck driver would be when he's out on the road, then the employer can be held responsible for the damage caused by that employee. This is true in almost every case, and it provides the means through which you may be able to recover damages. Many truck drivers lack the assets to pay a big settlement in a horrible accident case. For this reason, it's critical to hold responsible the company, which should have a combination of assets and insurance to cover the damages that follow from one of its trucks being involved in a terrible wreck.

To link the case to the trucking company, your lawyer will look to show that the driver was in the process of making a delivery for the company. Beyond that, it may be necessary to show that the driver wasn't grossly negligent. Your lawyer will walk you through this process so that you may have a good chance at recovery.

The Responsibility of the Truck Driver

The driver himself may have some responsibility in accidents like these. These cases tend to become very fact-specific. The driver's individual liability will depend on what he was doing and whether he did anything personally to make an accident more likely. If he was behaving lawfully and following the rules of his employer, then he may not have personal liability.

Your Own Liability in Trucking Accidents

Last but not least, it's important to consider any liability that you may have. In many accidents, the trucking company and its lawyers will try to show that you contributed in some way to your own injuries. For instance, if you were speeding or if you were distracted while driving, then they may attempt to use this against you.

If you've been hurt and you need a lawyer to help you through the process, give our Allentown truck accident lawyer a call today. You can reach Metzger & Kleiner by calling (610) 435-7400 in the Lehigh Valley.

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