Large truck accidents typically involve complex legal issues and severe to catastrophic injuries. Victims might be facing a significant recovery period with substantial medical expenses. Understandably, they want to know who will pay for their medical treatment and other damages. Did you sustain injuries in a truck accident? If so, you must prove the other driver was negligent before you will receive any reimbursement. However, proving fault in a truck accident is rarely straightforward. You need skilled Washington truck accident lawyers to represent you and protect your rights.
How Is Fault Determined After a Truck Accident?
Determining fault in a trucking accident requires you to prove four elements of negligence successfully. Read on to learn what you need to have for each factor.
Duty of Care
The first element of negligence is the duty of care. You must show the defendant owed you a legal duty of care. This one is often the easiest to prove in a negligence claim. All motorists owe each other a duty of care, which means you should follow all traffic rules and regulations when you get behind the wheel of a car or truck or hop on a motorcycle.
Breach of Duty
Successfully proving breach of duty means the defendant violated their duty of care. This happens when someone violates a traffic law, such as running a red light or speeding. Everything from distracted driving to driving under the influence of alcohol constitutes a breach of duty. Other breaches of duty include overloading a truck’s cargo, cutting corners unsafely, and driving while fatigued.
The third element of negligence is causation. You must prove the defendant’s breach of duty ultimately led to the accident and your injuries. Someone can breach their duty of care to drive defensively and follow all traffic laws but still not be responsible for your damages. You must link the accident to the defendant’s actions that led to the collision.
You must have verifiable damages following an injury accident. The requirement to have damages means tangible losses. Tangible losses include medical expenses, property damage, or lost wages.
How to Prove a Truck Driver Was Negligent in an Accident with No Witness
Witness statements can be crucial pieces of evidence in a truck accident claim. However, the absence of witnesses doesn’t mean you will automatically lose a liability argument. The following items are important factors for proving fault in a truck accident.
Accident scene photos are often very helpful in determining liability. If you can do so safely and not risk hurting yourself further, we always recommend victims take scene photos. You don’t need a fancy camera; cell phone photos are acceptable. Photos should document your injuries and physical damage to vehicles. Taking pictures of the broader scene is important. You want to look for things like skid marks, debris, and other things you feel might be important down the line. Maybe overgrown landscaping was blocking the stop sign, or the accident occurred in an active construction zone.
Police should respond to the scene of a truck accident, especially one involving injuries. The responding officer will document their observations and will likely take scene photos. The officer’s report will also list a narrative and conclusion on who was at fault.
Accident Reconstruction Experts
When you need some help recreating how an accident occurred, hire an accident reconstructionist (this is almost always done through your attorney). These skilled experts replay the accident to demonstrate how it happened. An accident reconstructionist works backward, applying a variety of techniques to conclude the accident cause, including:
- Vehicle inspections, including black box data when applicable;
- Documentation review, including a police report, depositions, crash test reports;
- Analysis of scene photos; and
- Review of victim’s medical records.
An accident reconstructionist’s reports and findings can establish specific driver errors that led to the accident, along with other contributory factors. A defective vehicle part or dangerous road conditions contributed to the accident.
Your medical records can also help establish liability, especially in conjunction with an accident reconstructionist’s assistance. The chosen experts will review your medical records to show a correlation to their findings on the mechanics of the accident.
Washington’s Comparative Negligence Statute
Washington is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you can collect compensation for your injuries, even if you’re primarily at fault for the accident. The caveat is that your percentage of liability reduces the amount you’ll receive. For example, if you are 20% at fault, you will receive only 80% of your damages.
You can expect the defendant’s insurance company to vigorously argue liability, even if the facts support your version of events. The more liability the defendant can place on you, the less the insurance company has to pay out. The other driver’s insurance adjuster is not on your side, no matter what they try to lead you to believe. Their allegiance is to the insurance company and its policyholders.
Truck Accident Claims Involving More Than Negligence
Truck accidents almost always involve negligence from one or more drivers in the accident. The accident might also involve other parties. Some trucking companies push their drivers to exceed the federal allotted hours to make more deliveries. The company might tell them to falsify their logs to hide the violations.
Mechanical issues and defective parts can also play a role in truck accidents. Brakes and tires are two of the most common parts that can fail. Determining who is liable in these situations can become complicated. That’s why we highly recommend hiring an experienced Washington truck accident lawyer.
Contact Our Washington Truck Accident Lawyers
If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, contact the Washington truck accident lawyers at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner. We have years of experience helping injured victims in Washington and know what’s necessary to build a strong case when liability is disputed. Don’t try to take on these trucking companies independently. Let us help you fight for the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.
When you meet with an attorney in our office, we will review your case and let you know what it might be worth, along with the next steps to proving fault in a truck accident. We’ve built a reputation for success and stand ready to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for your injuries.