Proving Liability In Truck Crash Claims
Since 2005, shipping companies have dealt with a truck driver shortage which is only getting worse. Since there are fewer trucks on the road to haul the same amount of freight, these vehicles are almost always loaded to the maximum allowable limit. That limit is at least 80,000 pounds. Furthermore, many of the drivers who drive these rigs have little experience. The days of gradual size increases are gone. Today, truckers operate the biggest rigs possible as soon as possible.
Regardless of the size of the load and the driver’s experience, the same negligence laws usually apply. As a result, a San Jose truck accident attorney is usually able to obtain substantial compensation for these victims. This compensation usually includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
What Causes Truck Crashes?
One of the most common causes of truck crashes is also one of the most difficult negligence cases to successfully resolve. Circadian rhythm fatigue affects everyone. Most people are naturally drowsy early in the morning, around midday, and late at night, even if they had a restful sleep the previous night. Almost all truckers are behind the wheel at these times of day.
This issue is especially acute among people who just changed work shifts or people with pre-existing medical conditions. Most truckers drive for three or four days and then have a few days off. So, their schedules are constantly in flux. Additionally, mostly because they sit so long, many truckers struggle with sleep apnea. This condition denies people deep, restorative rest during the night.
HOS (Hours of Service) fatigue is a problem as well, especially as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association has relaxed a number of safety requirements, such as daily and weekly hour caps. Other regulatory changes include a redefinition of “short haul” and “long haul” trips, so fewer regulations restrict driver activities.
Other truck crash causes include substance abuse and operational errors, like speeding or making an illegal turn.
Most truck drivers are common carriers in California. So, they have a higher duty of care than noncommercial motorists, when it comes to things like avoiding accidents when possible. The higher the duty of care, the easier it is to prove negligence, or a lack of care.
Victim/plaintiffs must prove negligence by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Frequently, the trucker’s Safety Maintenance System database report provides the needed evidence. The SMS database is essentially a multistate driving record which includes information like:
- Crash background,
- Previous substance abuse problems,
- Vehicle maintenance history,
- HOS compliance, and
- Citation history.
The SMS report usually draws information from law enforcement sources. For example, if a trucker takes traffic school for a speeding ticket, that citation might not appear in judicial records. But the ticket will most likely be in the SMS database.
Typically, the shipping or transportation company which owned the truck is financially responsible for truck crash damages, under the respondeat superior rule. This doctrine holds such companies liable when their drivers are negligent.
Count on an Experienced Lawyer
Negligent truckers often cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in San Jose, contact Solution Now Law Firm. You have a limited amount of time to act.