What if I am partly to blame for a trucking accident? When car and truck accidents occur, injuries are unfortunately all-too-common. In addition to the pain, suffering, and inconvenience related to truck-accident injuries, some accident victims may be unable to work for some time after their accident. Those accident victims might need to attend medical and physical therapy appointments during the work day, or their pain may prevent them from working in any capacity.
Following a truck accident, victims may be eligible to recover various monetary damages for their injuries, emotional distress, inconvenience, suffering, and pain. However, to recover these monetary damages, the accident victim—who has the sole legal burden of proof—must establish that someone else caused the accident. In the context of a truck accident, a truck driver or trucking company must ordinarily have behaved recklessly under the circumstances.
Truck drivers may exhibit negligence in several ways. In some instances, truck drivers violate a traffic law and cause motor vehicle crashes. At other times, truck drivers operate their vehicles while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and a collision results.
In some accident scenarios, it is difficult to tell exactly how a crash happened and who
was responsible. In fact, more than one driver may cause or contribute to a truck accident. In those instances, a truck accident lawyer in your area can retain an expert, such as an accident reconstructionist, who can speak with eyewitnesses, visit the truck accident scene, and prepare a report about how the crash likely occurred. A lawyer can also determine your eligibility to file a claim and pursue monetary damages for your injuries.
Many accident victims and their lawyers find themselves fighting an uphill battle when dealing with a truck driver or trucking company’s insurer. Insurance companies do everything they can to shift blame onto others—even accident victims themselves—to avoid paying out monetary compensation and damages. Insurance companies are big businesses, and the more compensation they pay an accident victim, the less they can keep for themselves despite being highly profitable.
In some truck accident scenarios, the truck driver or trucking company’s insurer may allege that the accident victim was contributorily negligent and that they contributed to the truck accident and/or to their injuries.
As you might imagine, a contributory negligence allegation makes a personal injury case far more complicated. For example, the insurance company might allege that the accident victim was not paying attention to the road or was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, making their injuries more severe than they might have been otherwise.
The Contributory Negligence Act governs the legal concept of contributory negligence in a car or truck accident scenario. Under this law, if a judge or jury determines that more than one person caused or contributed to an accident, the responsibility for paying damages is apportioned between those individuals.
In other words, at a civil trial, the judge or jury will divide the responsibility for damages based on each individual’s degree of fault for the accident. This process helps ensure that all responsible individuals pay their fair share.
However, it may be difficult to determine each party’s respective share of the blame in some instances. According to the law, if a judge or jury cannot ascertain an individual or entity’s respective degree of fault, then the court must divide responsibility evenly among all responsible parties.
How to Determine a Responsible Party’s Respective Degree of Fault
In most cases, the court is responsible for determining an at-fault party’s individual degree of fault for a truck accident. To make this determination, courts will often consider actions that the accident victim took immediately before, during, and following the subject truck accident.
Concerning injuries, one major factor that the trier of fact will consider is whether or not the accident victim sought prompt medical treatment after their accident—such as at an urgent care center or hospital. Moreover, the trier of fact may consider whether the accident victim followed through with subsequent medical treatment according to the emergency room doctor’s recommendation.
Some ways that accident victims contribute to a truck accident and their injuries include:
- Not fastening their seat belt before the accident
- Failing to follow specific traffic regulations
- Hitting the brakes at an inappropriate time
- Failing to take the proper steps to avoid an accident, if they had the opportunity
- Driving a vehicle that they did not have the appropriate license to operate
- Driving a vehicle that was not properly maintained, such as a vehicle with balding tires
When meeting with a truck accident lawyer in your area after your accident, you should be honest with them so that they can fairly assess the value of your case and help you prepare for a deposition or trial. Although contributory negligence may decrease the total monetary damages you recover in your personal injury claim or lawsuit, your lawyer can downplay any weaknesses in your case, highlight the strengths of your case, and maximize your monetary recovery through settlement or trial.
Ways that Truck Drivers are Negligent
Most truck accidents happen when truck drivers and trucking companies are the predominantly negligent parties. Truck drivers owe other drivers a duty to operate their large trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs, safely and carefully. When drivers fail to operate these large vehicles carefully, the vehicles can overturn in the middle of the roadway or jackknife and cause a multi-vehicle, chain-reaction collision that leaves many people injured.
Some of the most common ways that truck drivers operate their vehicles negligently include:
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.05 percent
- Driving while fatigued or while under the influence of a controlled substance designed to keep them awake for long hours.
- Violating traffic laws and regulations, such as stop signs, yield signs, traffic lights, and posted speed limit signs
- Failing to watch the road attentively.
While truck drivers have a duty to operate their trucks safely at all times, the trucking companies that employ these drivers also owe others a vital duty of care. Specifically, these trucking companies have a responsibility to only hire, retain, and supervise skilled truck drivers who have good driving records—and who will operate their vehicles skillfully and carefully.
When a trucking company negligently hires or retains a driver with numerous moving violations on their record—and that driver later causes an accident—the employer trucking company might be to blame.
One of the most important reasons to have an experienced truck accident lawyer on board in your case is so that your lawyer can thoroughly investigate the accident circumstances, review your legal options with you, and file a claim against all potentially responsible parties.
After your lawyer files a claim with a truck driver or trucking company’s motor vehicle insurer, your lawyer can then take over the settlement negotiations and work to recover monetary damages that fairly compensate you.
Finally, if the insurance company adjuster lowballs the settlement offer in your case, your lawyer has the option to prepare a lawsuit, file it in the court system, and litigate your case to a resolution. Throughout the process, your lawyer can answer all of your questions and help you make good decisions in your case.
Injuries that Truck Accident Victims Often Suffer
The injuries that a truck accident victim experiences will depend mainly upon the type of accident that happens. For example, when a negligent truck driver rear-ends the vehicle in front of them, accident victims may suffer whiplash injuries from the abrupt neck and back movement. Moreover, if they strike their head on the steering wheel in the accident, they may suffer a concussion or other severe head injury that requires prompt medical treatment.
Truck accident victims may also suffer far more severe injuries, including bone fractures, rib fractures, internal organ damage, and spinal cord injuries. If an accident victim severs one or more nerves in their accident, they may face a full or partial paralysis injury that prevents them from using one or more body parts.
Based on the injuries you suffered in your truck accident, your lawyer can help you determine which types of damages you may be eligible to recover. Your lawyer can also ballpark the total monetary damages you can receive through settlement or trial.
How Does Contributory Negligence Affect Damages?
When an accident victim contributes to their accident or to the injuries they suffered during an accident, a judge or jury may decrease the monetary compensation they award the accident victim. However, in most truck scenarios, it is the truck driver or trucking company who is primarily negligent.
In those instances, an accident victim may still recover significant monetary compensation, depending upon the type of truck accident that happened, the accident victim’s pain and suffering levels, and the extent of their accident-related injuries.
First, an accident victim may be eligible to recover monetary damages for both their past and future pain and suffering. When considering past pain and suffering damages, a judge or jury will look at the time period between the accident date and the current date. However, when looking at future pain and suffering damages, a judge or jury will look at the accident victim’s anticipated symptoms going forward. To recover monetary damages for future pain and suffering, an accident victim must ordinarily suffer a permanent injury or disfigurement.
In addition to monetary compensation for pain, suffering, and inconvenience, accident victims can recover monetary damages for their mental distress and emotional anguish. This is especially true if they seek treatment from a mental health provider, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.
If the accident victim had to miss time from work to attend medical appointments and recover from their truck-accident injuries, they might be eligible to recover their lost earnings. To receive these damages, the accident victim may need to submit copies of their income tax returns, along with documentation from their employer which lists the dates they missed from work and the amount of compensation they lost.
If the accident victim suffered a spinal cord injury, paralysis injury, or other permanent impairment or disfigurement, they can recover damages for their loss of earning capacity. This is especially true if they had to take a pay cut and switch jobs due to their inability to perform their previous job duties.
Finally, truck accident victims can recover monetary damages for their lost ability to use a body part, as well as for their loss of life enjoyment.
A skilled truck accident lawyer in your area can determine the likely types and amounts of monetary damages you can pursue and recover in your personal injury claim. Your lawyer will then do everything possible to help you obtain those damages, either by settling your case out of court or litigating your case through the court system.
Retain an Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer to Represent You Today
Next to seeking prompt medical treatment after your accident, retaining a knowledgeable truck accident lawyer to represent you is one of the most important steps you can take. Waiting too long to seek the services of legal counsel can be highly detrimental to your case, and it may even prevent you from recovering monetary damages for your injuries. This is because Alberta has a two-year statute of limitations in place when it comes to car and truck accident personal injuries.
The statute of limitations time period begins to run on the accident date and ends precisely two years later. Therefore, if an accident victim waits too long to file a lawsuit, the court will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can file a lawsuit right away if there is little time remaining on the statute of limitations in your case.
In addition to filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit for you, a skilled truck accident lawyer can represent you at every stage of your case and attend all legal proceedings with you. At a mediation or trial, your lawyer can present evidence in support of your claim, allow you to testify on the witness stand, and make convincing arguments that will help you maximize the monetary damages you recover for your injuries.