Determining Fault in a Truck-Car Accident
UPDATED: March 11, 2015
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Determining who’s at fault in a truck car accident is more complicated than an accident involving two cars due to the number of parties involved (it’s not just the two drivers, but the owner of the truck, the manufacturer of the truck, the brake maker, etc.) as well as the many regulations that govern commercial motor vehicles. Commercial vehicles are heavily regulated by both federal and state governments and determining fault in a truck accident requires the parties to not only be aware of all the applicable regulations, but the ability to effectively determine if any were not followed.
Because there are so many rules (which trucker insurance lawyers know in and out) and states have differing statutes of limitations, a truck accident attorney should be consulted as soon as possible after a truck-car accident. For example, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one of the leading causes of truck accidents is driver fatigue, coupled with alcohol and/or drug use. Some states, like California, require truckers to drive more slowly than other traffic. But how can you determine if the trucker was speeding or fatigued? An experienced attorney will know who to question, how evidence needs to be immediately preserved and gathered, and have access to experts who can piece together what happened and why.
Federally, truckers are regulated by agencies such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Each state has different regulations of their own and you should visit your state’s department of transportation to figure them out.
Insurance for Commercial Vehicles
For interstate commerce (trucks crossing state lines), the federal government requires that trucks carry $750,000 of insurance for bodily injury and property damage. For trucks carrying hazardous materials (e.g., toxic chemicals), that number can go up to $5,000,000, depending on how hazardous the cargo is. Each state also has separate insurance requirements that must be followed for travel within that state, so be sure you know your state’s requirements.
If You’re Hit By a Truck
The combination of the number of safety and insurance regulations and number of possible claims (who do you sue, under what legal theory, etc) is very complex and should be handled by someone with the knowledge and resources to deal with the other party's insurance lawyers! It’s not just the driver’s lawyer (who may be an independent contractor and not an employee) who will be involved, it’s the trucking company, the owner of the cargo, etc. The possible permutations are mind-numbing; having an advocate on your side will not only deal with the other lawyers with the legal procedures, but will increase your chances of recovering fair damages.
If you would like to have your case reviewed by an experienced truck accident lawyer, simply fill out our case evaluation form and an attorney will contact you for a no-cost, no obligation evaluation.