Partially At Fault for Truck Accident
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All accidents are scary, overwhelming, and usually unexpected. Although not all accidents result in injury, when they do, injured victims should be able to seek compensation from the responsible party. The complicated part is that fault usually falls on multiple parties, sometimes including the injured party.
Thankfully, our experienced attorneys may help you seek compensation for your injuries and get your life back on track after an accident.
What if I’m Partially at Fault for a Truck Accident?
Sometimes even when an injured party can show that there has been negligence on the part of the truck driver or trucking company, the blame can be partly attributed to the injured party themselves. If you are found to be partially at fault for your truck accident, this may affect your ability to seek compensation. This is known as comparative fault. In a nutshell, comparative fault is a law that allows financial liability for an accident to be split among the parties. Each state handles comparative fault differently, but usually the amount you can ultimately seek is reduced by the percentage you are to blame. For example, if you are awarded $1,000 for your injuries, but you are 20% to blame, you will ultimately only walk away with $800. If you are over 50% responsible, you may receive nothing in some states.
Other jurisdictions follow a theory of contributory negligence. Under this rule, a plaintiff may be barred from recovery altogether if they had any role to play in the accident that led to their injuries.
How to Determine who is at Fault for an Accident
There are multiple ways to determine fault in a truck accident. A few important considerations in establishing liability include:
In general, most truck accident cases will usually fall under a theory of negligence. A party is negligent where they owe a duty to another roadway user, subsequently breach that duty, and that breach causes damage. Truck drivers and trucking companies are expected to exercise the care of a reasonably prudent person.
Those who operate commercial trucks are expected to demonstrate reasonable care while driving on roadways. A party who fails to exercise reasonable care will likely be deemed negligent, and thus may be liable for the accident. When it comes to truck accidents, the truck driver, and often their employer, may be found liable. The truck driver themselves may be held liable when they fail to adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by their employer and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They may also be held liable if they are operating as an independent contractor, which limits their employer’s liability of the truck driver. Truck drivers and trucking companies are expected to follow certain local, state, and federal regulations. A trucking company may be liable for failing to adhere to these regulations, for negligent hiring or retention, or by engaging in practices that cause their drivers to engage in unsafe behavior.
Read More: Top Causes of Truck Accidents
In some jurisdictions, you can prove negligence under a theory known as “negligence per se.” This means that someone is negligent simply because they violated a statute, and that caused an injury. To show negligence under this theory you need to be able to show that the responsible party violated a statute, the violation caused the type of harm that the statute was meant to prevent, and the injured party was a member of the class of people that the statute sought to protect. You could show this, for example, where a truck crashes into you as the result of violating the speed limit.
Evidence is necessary to establish liability in a truck accident case. Important pieces of evidence may include police reports, traffic camera footage, or photos taken by either party involved in the accident. Always take the time to take photos or gather documents that you think may be helpful to you in fighting your claim.
Witnesses can be a great resource for establishing fault in a truck accident claim. The best-case scenario is that you have another person to corroborate your story exactly as you tell it. However, sometimes witnesses may see something that you don’t or may have another perspective on what happened in a truck accident case. Either way, a witness’s insight can be invaluable in seeking compensation for recovery as a result of a truck accident injury.
Am I Still Entitled to Damages?
There are two types of compensation a person may be eligible to receive for a personal injury claim. These two types are economic compensation and non-economic compensation. Economic compensation covers out-of-pocket expenses you incurred as a result of the accident, like medical bills and lost wages. They are referred to as “economic” because you can easily quantify them. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other emotionally based damages.
If you are partially at fault for the truck accident you were involved in, then your ability to recover damages may be affected depending on the state laws where you live. As mentioned, your ability to recover may hinge on the percentage in which you were at fault.
How is Fault Calculated?
Fault is not “calculated” by any finite measure. Most cases will come to a resolution via settlement. In this instance, fault won’t necessarily be calculated. Each party and their attorneys will come to a subjective determination of how much liability they may be willing to be responsible for and will make an offer of settlement to reflect that. In the instance that a settlement offer is not appropriate or substantial to you, then you may decide to go to trial. In a trial, either a judge or jury will ultimately determine fault and calculate damages accordingly.
Fault States vs. No-Fault Rule
Some states have enacted no-fault insurance laws. The type of jurisdiction you are in may ultimately affect your ability to recover regardless of traditional theories of liability. In a fault-based system, injured parties may seek compensation from anyone who may have been at fault in a truck accident. Alternatively, if you live in a no-fault jurisdiction, then fault won’t have much of an effect on your ability to seek compensation from another party. Under a no-fault insurance system, injured parties must seek relief through their own insurance coverage rather than trying to seek a payout from someone else’s. The major exception to no-fault insurance laws is when the victim has been seriously injured. If your injuries exceed a certain threshold, you may still be able to sue the responsible party for economic and non-economic damages.
Modified Joint and Several Liability
“Modified joint and several liability” refers to a similar system of comparative fault, as mentioned previously. In Texas, for example, a defendant will only be responsible for the full amount of an injured party’s damages if they are found to be more than 50% responsible. If they are 50% or less responsible, then they will only be required to pay the percentage of damages which equates to their amount of fault.
This rule may apply where there are multiple parties responsible for your accident. This rule would make multiple responsible parties liable to a single injured party, regardless of their degree of fault. The policy behind this rule is that an injured party should be entitled to seek full compensation for injuries. Where one of the responsible parties can’t afford to pay the judgment, an injured party should still be entitled to seek compensation from other responsible parties who can.
Contact Our Nationwide 18-Wheeler Accident Attorneys
The legal process is complicated enough on its own. Trying to handle your own claim will only make matters worse. Even the smallest mistake may ruin your chance to seek compensation after an accident.
Having an attorney on your side may improve your chances of receiving compensation. Our attorneys know how to calculate your damages and negotiate effectively with insurance companies. When insurance companies don’t want to offer an appropriate settlement, your attorney may be able to advise you on the process of going to trial.
The insurance companies pay attorneys a lot of money to fight for them. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. Our attorneys believe you should not need to worry about affording legal representation. We offer free initial case consultations and work on a contingency fee basis. That means that unless we win your case, you don’t owe us any money. Call us at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our experienced truck accident attorneys.
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