Although vehicle collisions happen quickly, they can have long-term impacts on the people involved – severe injuries, property damage, and sometimes even death – so it is important that the parties who are not at fault receive compensation for their losses. Understanding how to prove negligence in a semi-truck accident case is critical and can be more difficult than you might think. Trucking carriers and insurance companies aggressively litigate against injury claims, and in some cases, other parties may share some of the fault. This will require you to investigate the case and gather evidence to help prove liability – with the help of your attorney, of course.
How to Prove Negligence in a Semi-Truck Accident
Were you involved in a collision with a semi-truck in which someone else acted negligently, causing the collision and your injuries? If you learn how to prove negligence and are successful in your claim, you will be entitled to recover compensation for your losses. To do this, you will need to prove the following four elements:
- The defendant owed a duty of care to you. In a semi-truck collision, this is normally fairly straightforward to prove. For instance, if you think that the driver was negligent, you can start by showing that the driver had a duty to obey the traffic laws and drive safely to protect others.
- The defendant violated the duty of care by doing something a reasonably prudent person would not do under similar circumstances. This is more difficult to prove. The term “reasonably prudent person” is used as a legal standard to represent how the average person would responsibly act in a given situation. You must demonstrate that if the average person were put in the defendant’s shoes, he or she would have acted differently.
- The defendant’s breach of the duty of care led to the collision and your resulting injuries. Demonstrating that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries can be difficult. You will need to receive a medical evaluation ASAP after the collision, follow your doctor’s orders exactly, and retain all of the paperwork involved. Then your attorney must connect your injuries to the defendant’s actions through evidence.
- You suffered compensable harm. This may include economic or noneconomic losses.
All four of these elements must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence before you can recover damages at trial. The following methods can be used to prove the negligence of a defendant in a semi-truck accident case.
If there were eyewitnesses to your accident, you can use both your statement and the statements of the eyewitnesses to help prove liability. You and the other witnesses may be deposed or asked to testify in court about what was witnessed in the moments leading up to the accident. For example, several witnesses might have seen the truck speeding, changing lanes without checking, or engaging in other negligent driving behaviors.
Charges or Convictions of the Defendant
If the police officers that responded to the collision gave the truck driver a ticket or charged him or her with a criminal offense, you can use the traffic violation or criminal charge as evidence of the driver’s negligence. In some cases, a police officer’s investigation might lead to safety violations or criminal charges against a third party. These types of violations and charges can also be used as evidence of the third-party’s negligence. While tickets and criminal charges do not guarantee the negligence of the other party, they can serve as strong support for your claim.
Evidence That the Defendant Did Not Act as a Reasonably Prudent Person Would
In some cases, you can prove the negligence of the defendant by presenting evidence that the defendant did not act in the same way that a reasonably prudent person in the same position would have acted. In many cases, this type of evidence involves the testimony of experts, who can be called to give their opinions about many different issues. An expert can give testimony to show the court or the insurance company about the various factors that caused your accident and injuries. Experts can also help explain complicated matters in ways that are easier to understand.
In every semi-truck accident case, an in-depth investigation will be necessary. An investigation can help locate eyewitnesses, gather information from the accident scene, obtain evidence from the trucking carrier, and identify the various parties that contributed to the collision. Your attorney might work with a team of investigators and experts to build a strong case for you.
Consult Our Trucking Accident Attorneys for Help
Suffering serious injuries in a semi-truck collision may result in staggering expenses as well as noneconomic losses. An attorney at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook can help you determine liability and work to prove the negligence of all responsible parties. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation by calling 479-783-8000 or contacting us online.