July 15, 2011
Recently, a trucking company was ordered to pay $23.7 million to the families of two people who were killed in a truck accident.
The company claimed it was not liable for the accident because it didn’t own the truck or employ its driver. But the court found otherwise, ruling that the company had enough control over the truck and the transportation of the cargo to make the driver essentially the company’s employee.
A motor vehicle accident attorney probably never would have known how to prove this company’s negligence. Only an experienced truck accident lawyer would understand the myriad state and federal laws that surround the trucking industry, including buses and other commercial fleets.
This is why it is so critical that the truck accident attorney you pick has the experience and knowledge to make your case against all those who are responsible for your truck accident.
A practiced truck accident lawyer knows that it frequently takes extensive investigation to determine all those who may be liable or partially at fault for your truck accident.
For instance, a truck accident seemingly caused by a truck driver who ran a red light, may have far deeper causes. It may be that the driver’s brakes malfunctioned due to the poor maintenance of the truck by the truck owner.
Or, it is possible that the traffic light is poorly placed at the intersection, making the government agency responsible for that road at least partially liable for your serious injuries or for the loss of a loved ones life.
Some states, such as California and Washington, have something called comparative negligence. This means that liability for your truck accident is proportioned out to all the responsible parties by the court.
Using the example above, a skilled truck accident lawyer may be able to prove to the court’s satisfaction that the responsibility falls to the truck driver 10%, the owner of the truck 60%; and local government 30%.
In the $23.7 million case, the court found the trucking company’s “smoking gun” to be the fact that the driver could not possibly deliver the load on time, within speed limits and in compliance with federal regulations regarding the number of hours the driver could drive in succession. If the driver obeyed those federal regs, the late fines would have drained all of the trucking company’s profits.
The bottom line is that the right attorney can make the difference in any case, but in a truck accident lawsuit, who you select can make or break your case.