Determining the fault for a truck accident involves various investigators from the insurance companies, the involved parties’ legal representatives, the police, and possibly even the government. These parties have the authority to:
- Request evidence from various sources
- Interview people involved in the accident
- Determine the percentage of responsibility for each involved party
Investigators take various pieces of evidence, such as the truck’s black box data, to make their final determination of fault.
Finding Evidence After a Truck Accident
Investigators will look at all kinds of documentary and physical evidence to determine fault in a truck accident case. Such evidence may include:
- The vehicles involved in the crash
- The police report
- Inspection reports and other records maintained by the trucking company
- The trucker’s logs
- Photos of the scene, the vehicles, or the injured parties
- Video footage of the accident
- Bills and receipts that reflect the survivors’ accident-related expenses
Information from these materials can help investigators pinpoint vital statistics, including:
- When the survivors were injured, and how badly
- What each of the involved parties was doing before, during, and after the crash
- If the trucking company has a history of causing accidents or violating safety standards
- If any of the drivers have been involved in prior accidents
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Personal and Expert Truck Accident Testimony
There are two kinds of people that investigators may interview following a truck accident: those who were somehow involved and those who have expert knowledge that might prove useful.
Personal testimony can come from:
- The truck driver
- Any passengers in your vehicle or in the truck
- Witnesses to the accident, including people in nearby buildings or who were sharing the road with you
Investigators want these people’s perspectives to gain a clearer idea of what occurred. Multiple perspectives can be invaluable because:
- No single person can see everything about an accident. Combining testimonies allows the investigator to build a more thorough picture of the accident.
- You or someone else might be mistaken about what happened. This is understandable because truck accidents are very fast and frightening events. Again, getting testimony from multiple parties can weed out inaccuracies.
- The liable party might try to lie about their involvement. If multiple parties refute their testimony, this could damage their credibility and lead investigators to the truth.
By contrast, expert testimony comes not from those involved in the crash but from people whose fields of expertise can confirm what was said in personal testimony. For example, accident reconstruction experts can look at the environment and the damage to the vehicles and work backward to see how the accident may have happened.
Potential At-Fault Parties in Truck Accident Cases
By reviewing evidence like the above, investigators can determine fault in a truck accident. Responsible parties may include:
- The truck driver
- The trucking company
- A vehicle part manufacturer
- The cargo loader
- A mechanic or maintenance company
- The local government responsible for taking care of the roadway (if the environment played a role in the crash)
One important part of the investigator’s work is apportioning fault. Consider the following situations:
- The truck driver was exceeding the speed limit and tried to slow down for a red light. They discovered too late that their brakes were faulty and that they could not slow down in time to stop a crash.
- The trucking company pressured its drivers to forego the break times mandated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, causing them to veer into another lane and hit you.
- The truck driver was texting behind the wheel, so they did not notice the danger they were causing until it was too late.
In the first two examples, multiple parties share the blame for the crash. The investigator would have to decide how much each individual’s action was to blame. Using the second example, an investigator would determine if:
- The trucking company was more at fault than the truck driver
- The truck driver was more at fault than the trucking company
- Both the truck driver and the trucking company share blame equally
Such calculations can be very intricate. The investigator would have to drill deep into the evidence to figure out what percentage of fault to assign to each party.
In the third example, only the texting truck driver was responsible. The investigator would therefore assign blame to them alone.
What to Do After Finding the At-Fault Party
After a truck accident, one of the most important things you can do is to hire a truck accident attorney to investigate fault on your behalf and pursue compensation from all of the at-fault parties. This could make it easier to sue those parties for financial compensation.
Once your lawyer has determined who caused your accident, they could help you with your case by:
- Fighting back against other investigators’ claims that the at-fault party is not responsible or that you yourself caused the accident
- Contacting the at-fault party’s insurance company to ask for fair compensation
- Negotiating for the compensation you deserve (they would determine this amount by looking at evidence like medical records and bills)
- Representing you in a trial
- Managing “minor” but essential tasks like phone calls, paperwork, and emails
- Being available to answer your questions whenever you have them
To benefit from a law firm’s services, you would have to consult them as soon as you can. Each state has its own statute of limitations or a law that prohibits accident survivors from seeking compensation more than a given number of years after the accident.
For instance, Md. Cts. & Jud. Proc. Code § 5-101 allows truck accident survivors in Maryland just three years to begin a case, so starting promptly is essential. The statute is longer or shorter in other areas, and it may be different if you plan on filing a wrongful death case.
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We Can Determine the Fault in Your Truck Accident
Adam Smallow Injury Lawyers has over ten years of experience with how fault is determined in a truck accident and how to pursue fair compensation for accident survivors like you. Contact us today for a free consultation. We focus on your case so you can focus on healing.