Trucking accidents are very serious and usually result in serious injury or death. Trucking accidents can occur for many reasons, from driver fatigue or inexperience, to excessive loads creating imbalance which can lead to rollovers. Oftentimes, large trucks such as 18 wheelers are owned by large companies who will aggressively defend themselves in the case of an accident. Obtaining an attorney early in the process is necessary to prevent the injured victim from making any improper statements to investigators, who work for the trucking company, which can damage their case for personal injury or wrongful death of a family member.
There are both state and federal laws concerning trucks. Federal law in particular provides guidelines on how long a driver can drive without taking a break for rest. Truck drivers are also required to maintain logs, which later can be used by your attorney to prove any deviations from the laws by the truck driver.
Litigating a personal injury or wrongful trucking accident death requires a showing of negligence on behalf of the truck driver and the truck driving company. Negligence of the victim will also be taken into account, but does not bar an award of personal injury damages. Your lawyer will likely sue the driver for negligence or recklessness, and the trucking company, under a theory of respondent superior, or that the company is liable for the driver's actions. Other causes of action could include negligent hiring, negligent supervision and lack of training.
Your lawyer will conduct an investigation of the accident scene, the conditions of the road at the time of the accident, the condition of the truck in question, include maintenance records, will interview any witnesses to the accident, as well as reviewing police reports and possibly conducting depositions of the police. Depositions will also be conducted on the driver concerning his or her condition at the time of the accident, his or her training and years of experience, and any similar accidents or disciplinary actions taken against the driver.
Your lawyer will also investigate the trucking company to determine whether the company has failed to properly train its drivers, whether it has rules in place for hiring, supervision and discipline, the conditions of its trucks, and any previous accidents involving its drivers.
The basic tort claim for personal injury or wrongful death consists of certain factors. The first is "Duty" or whether or not the trucking company had a duty to the victim and to the public in general to prevent accidents of this type. The second factor is whether the truck driver and/or trucking company "Breached" its/their duty through his or her/their negligence. The third factor is whether the driver and the company's conduct was the "Cause" of the injury to the victim. The forth factor is "Damages" or how much the injured driver is entitled to recover in monetary damages for injuries, medical bills, lost wages, loss of consortium or affections with family members), and the like.
Further, other companies can be sued by your lawyer for their negligence, such as the truck manufacturer and the parts makers, and the tire company if the tires were defective. Further, if the truck was negligently worked on by a mechanic, this could lead to a suit against the mechanic and his or her company.
The results of the case depend on the very specific factors involved in each case.