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What Makes Truck Accident Litigation More Complex

Accidents involving tractor trailers and other large trucks pose a unique set of challenges for injured victims seeking compensation. The sheer size and weight of a tractor-trailer mean that an impact with a smaller vehicle can result in serious and disabling injuries for the occupants. The force of a collision can lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord damage or loss of limbs, among other catastrophic harm. The potential damages recoverable are thus far higher than in lawsuits over normal car accidents.

The increased level of bodily harm and consequent damages is just one factor that contributes to the complexities of truck accident litigation. Here is an overview of others.

Determining fault in a truck accident can be a complex endeavor compared to a straightforward car crash with two drivers. Several parties could share liability, including:

  • The truck driver — His or her actions, such as distracted driving, fatigue or driving under the influence, could be a major contributing factor.
  • The trucking company — The truck’s owner or lessor may be at fault for negligent hiring, failure to properly maintain the vehicle or pressuring drivers to exceed reasonable hours at the wheel.
  • The shipper loading the cargo — Improperly secured or unbalanced cargo can shift during transit, causing instability and accidents.
  • The manufacturer of the truck or its components — Defective parts, such as brakes or tires, could play a role in the accident.
  • Repair or maintenance providers — Negligence in service operations may have contributed to the crash.

Each of the parties joined in a lawsuit will likely have their own legal representation, creating a situation with multiple attorneys vying for the most favorable outcome for their clients.

Trucking companies carry significantly more insurance than passenger vehicle drivers. This increased coverage reflects the potential for high payouts in accident claims and thus gives insurance companies added motivation to minimize their financial exposure. They will often employ aggressive tactics to deny or reduce compensation, including questioning the severity of the victim’s injuries or attempting to shift blame to other parties involved.

The trucking industry operates under strict federal and state regulations. These cover a wide range of aspects, including driver qualifications and testing for drugs and alcohol; limits on driving hours and mandatory rest periods; vehicle maintenance and weight limitations; and requirements for drivers to maintain accurate logs documenting their hours on the road. Violations of any of these regulations can significantly impact liability in a truck accident case.

The evidence in a truck accident lawsuit can be especially complicated. It can include dashcam footage from the truck or surrounding vehicles; maintenance records for the truck; and the driver’s logs documenting their activities. In addition, many modern commercial trucks are equipped with electronic control modules, known as black boxes. These record critical data about the truck’s operation, including speed, braking activity and engine performance at the time of the accident. However, analyzing the black box data can be a complex process that requires specialized expertise.

The lawyers at Pulverman & Pulverman, LLP know how to investigate a truck accident thoroughly and to identify the causes and people responsible. If you or a loved one has been injured in such a crash, call us at 805.259.3581 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. 

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