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Austin Personal Injury Blog

Monday, September 11, 2017

Proving Negligence in Commercial Trucking Accidents

The Great State of Texas is crisscrossed with highways, and those highways are full of 18-wheelers and other heavy trucks.  Most truckers are hardworking, responsible drivers because they know that in big trucks even little mistakes can cause tremendous damage.  But sometimes, even truckers make mistakes, and because Texas highways are often crowded, those mistakes frequently involve other people. Commercial truck accidents are usually resolved in a negligence lawsuit.

How do negligence lawsuits work?

In a negligence lawsuit, there are four individual elements you must prove to the court to be successful in your claim.  You must prove:

  1. That somebody owed you a “duty.”  For example, commercial truckers owe other drivers the duty of operating up to the safety standards of professional truck drivers.
  2. That person “breached” his or her duty, meaning he or she failed to do what was required by his or her duty.  In a negligence case involving a commercial truck accident, this could involve all sorts of problems, such as failing to properly maintain and inspect the truck, operating a truck the driver isn’t qualified to drive, driving without sufficient sleep or while intoxicated, or failing to properly secure the truck’s load.
  3. That you suffered damages in the accident, such as physical injuries or damage to your vehicle.
  4. That your damages were directly caused by the driver’s breach of his or her duty.

Generally if you can prove each of those four elements, you will have a successful negligence case.  The trick is figuring out how to prove them.

How do I prove the elements of my claim?

In a typical negligence case involving a commercial trucking accident, the elements of duty and damages are relatively easy to prove.  A good lawyer can help you put together the laws and regulations that establish a commercial trucker’s various responsibilities, and if necessary can hire an expert to testify about what a trucker’s duties include.  Similarly, most accidents involve some form of investigation, including police reports and insurance adjusters.  Photos of hulks of steel that used to be cars can also be very effective in proving that damage occurred.

The two biggest problems in negligence cases involving truck accidents are usually proving that the driver breached his or her duty, and that that breach was what caused the damage to your car.  Every once in a while, proving them is easy.  For example, if a trucker plows directly into your car and is found to have had a blood-alcohol content far above the legal limit, it’s a simple matter to show that the trucker breached a duty, and almost as simple to show that he or she wouldn’t have hit your car if he or she hadn’t been drunk.

Unfortunately, most cases aren’t quite so straightforward.  They can frequently involve issuing subpoenas for the truck’s maintenance logs, investigations into the driver’s sleeping habits, or experts to establish exactly how each vehicle moved throughout the course of the accident and why.  If you’ve been involved in an accident with a commercial truck, it’s critical to be represented by an attorney who specializes in these types of accidents.  

Our firm has been handling trucking accidents for years, and our attorneys have tremendous experience proving negligence for our clients.  If you’ve been in an accident and have questions about what to do next, schedule a consult with a Texas personal injury lawyer to determine liability and fight for your rights.

 


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