In any truck accident lawsuit, you should present enough evidence against the at-fault party to win the case. It is essential to prove these elements to achieve the highest compensation possible from the at-fault party. Your attorney should help you establish and prove these elements. Contact us at the Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm for credible legal services while seeking compensation after a truck accident. Our experts will help you navigate the legal processes and try as much as possible to get optimal compensation for your injuries and damages.
Establishing Duty of Care
The outcome of a car accident case depends on whether the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff. Duty of care is a legal term used to describe a legal obligation that a person has to ensure others’ safety and well-being. In a truck accident, the truck driver is expected to owe a duty of care to other road users, such as motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The duty of care is stretched in different aspects. This means that the truck driver should strictly follow all the traffic regulations that have been set forth.
If you are a driver and are involved in a truck accident, you still owe a duty of care to the truck driver. Therefore, you can be held liable for the truck accident if you played a part in its happening and might affect the amount supposed to be compensated.
Federal Trucking Regulations
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has the responsibility to reduce collisions, injuries, damages, and deaths caused by large trucks in place. In that case, they have set forth several regulations that should be considered by truckers and trucking companies. These regulations include:
- Having at least ten consecutive hours of rest after a driving shift
- Restriction from driving if the driver been working for sixty hours within a seven days’ consecutive shift or seventy hours in an eight days’ shift
- Truckers should drive for only eleven hours in a fourteen-hour shift
- Truckers should have at least ten consecutive hours off work after a fourteen-hour shift and should work for 14 hours if they had taken ten days off work
- Truckers should not drive for at least eight hours after a previous break of a minimum of thirty minutes
- Trucks should maintain 20,000 pounds in a single axle vehicle, 34,000 for tandem axle ad 80,000 for gross vehicle weight
Please note, Federal laws do not provide limits for the overall vehicle length, width, and trailer length that a truck should maintain. The state should impose these standards.
Nevada Trucking Regulations
All trucking regulations in Nevada are set forth by the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). The department is responsible for setting forth rules related to weight limits and vehicle size. These regulations are expected to be adhered to by truckers and trucking companies. This includes:
- Trucks should not exceed 14 feet in their height, 102 inches in their width, and 70 feet in their length, unless in special permits
- Single-axle trucks should not exceed 20,000 pounds, 34,000 for tandem axle trucks, and 42,000 pounds for triple-axle trucks. These weights might be different according to the weight bridge and roadway used
- A truck should not exceed a gross weight of 80,000 pounds except in a special permit
- Truckers should have a Commercial Driver’s license (CDL) to operate trucks. They must also be at least twenty-one years old to drive a vehicle with a maximum of seventy feet in length
- If a trucker has a CDL, he or she must agree to a blood alcohol testing after being pulled over for suspected drunk driving
- Truckers should not operate a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04% or higher
- If a trucker is found to have a detectable level of alcohol in his or her system, he or she should be restricted from driving for at least twenty-four hours
There are other requirements that truckers should consider. These rules are referred to as general driving rules, meaning that they do not only apply to truckers but all drivers. Here are a few general driving rules that a driver should consider:
- Always drive on the right side of the road
- Use the part of the road with hashed or broken lines to change lanes when it is safe
- Use the broken or hashed yellow lines to pass a vehicle while paying attention to oncoming traffic carefully
- Do not cross a double yellow or solid line
- Use the left lane to pass other vehicles traveling in your direction
- Always yield to the pedestrians
- Be careful with bicyclists. They often share the road with motor vehicles
- Stop overusing your truck’s or car’s horn. Horns are used exclusively for emergencies or when feeling unsafe
Every trucker should observe all the above-stated regulations to maintain their duty of care. Failure to consider these regulations might potentially lead to a truck accident.
Establishing a Breach of Duty
When you are establishing a breach of duty in your truck accident case, you need to prove that the trucker, trucking company, or truck did not adhere to some of the regulations that have been outlined in their operations. Here is a detailed view of the common aspects that demonstrates a breach of duty in a truck accident.
Cargo or Loading Errors
The logistics of moving thousands of pounds of cargo is complicated, and thus the need to be precise and careful. However, if the loads or cargo are improperly loaded, it can cause a sudden shift of weight that would make the truck lose control, leading to a truck accident. Most of the cargo or load related accidents are a result of a violation of the loading requirements under federal and state agencies.
Under Federal trucking regulations, commercial trucking companies should inspect, repair, and maintain their trucks regularly. They should also keep a truck’s inspection report for the past thirty days to prove their compliance with truck maintenance requirements. However, most truck companies fail to adhere to these requirements by imposing unrealistic constraints on their drivers, failing to train their drivers properly, failing to vet new hires thoroughly, and so on. This increases the possibility of an accident. Your attorney’s responsibility is to establish the exact factors that prove the trucking company’s negligence to rely on this aspect successfully.
Failure to Adhere to Truck Maintenance Regulations
Sometimes truck manufacturers might be held responsible for a truck accident when the manufacturer or design defects contribute to a truck accident. If a truck has a defective automotive part and travels on an open highway, it can lead to a severe collision. Some of the common types of vehicle defects that are seen in accidents include:
- Powertrain failure
- Defective tires
- Faulty brakes
- Steering issues
Distraction or distracted driving is a common cause of accidents. Distracted driving involves any activity that diverts the driver’s attention from driving. This includes eating, drinking, receiving a call, changing radio signals, etc. These actions might appear minor, but once your eyes are off the road, there are chances of causing an accident.
You might assume that trucking does not have a high rate of alcohol and drug abuse, but it does. Some truckers are known to use cocaine and amphetamine to keep themselves awake while driving. Therefore, the driver becomes impaired hence cannot make any reasonable decision while driving, increasing the possibility of an accident.
Speeding and Overtaking
Sometimes truckers are unable to deliver their deliveries within the allocated time. Due to the pressure that they face, a trucker might be forced to drive faster than the speed necessary for the vehicle’s weight or more than the suitable speed of the specific road condition at that time. In that case, there are high chances of causing a truck accident, especially when rear vehicles try to make a sudden stop. Trucks need a longer stoppage distance than smaller vehicles, meaning that they would cause an accident if they speed on a busy highway.
When it comes to overtaking, trucks require a bigger clearance than other vehicles. Therefore, if you see a truck bearing down from your vehicle’s back, you would often swerve off the road into another lane leading to an accident.
Truckers should train to a certain extent before assuming his or her role as a truck driver. However, some drivers get on the road without meeting these requirements. In doing so, they cannot manage to maintain the due caution needed while driving in hazardous situations such as wind, snow, or rain. Therefore, there are high chances of causing an accident when their truck skid due to the weather conditions.
Failure to Yield
Most truckers assume that they have the ultimate right to use roads as they like and would not yield when other vehicles have the right to use a roadway. Such situations are common in intersections where one of the vehicles has to yield to the other to ensure safe passage. If a truck fails to yield to the other vehicle’s right, it might end up in a severe accident involving numerous injuries.
When proving causation, you need to demonstrate that the truck driver’s breach of duty of care led to injuries. In doing so, you need to provide relevant evidence that would help you in this process. Let’s have a closer look at the evidence required to prove that the injuries suffered from the accident resulted from the trucker’s breach of duty or negligence.
Medical bills and receipts are one of the essential pieces of evidence needed to prove causation in a truck accident. These receipts resemble that there were injuries incurred from the accident and demonstrate that you need reimbursement. They can also confirm that you received medical services at a specific time and date. As much as you would present the medical bills and receipts to prove your medical expense, you need to establish whether the amount suggested in the receipts is right.
Therefore, you should have a proper witness to authenticate the medical bills or receipts. These can be done through testimonies exhibited by you, the person that issued the bills or doctor, and the issuer’s record keeper.
If you are asked to testify and prove that the medical evidence provided is valid, you can show that:
- The foundation for receipts and bills were done through testimony from the doctor’s visit, medical bills, and receipts from these visits
- The extent of the injury experienced by the injured person
- There is evidence that the bills were reasonable based on the bill that was paid
- You understand the nature of the medical services and supplies used in your treatment
When medical experts or practitioners are asked to provide a testimony of the medical treatment and services provided to you, they can testify that:
- You were a victim of a truck accident, and the doctor or practitioner was responsible for your emergency treatment
- The services provided was suitable for your injury
- The charges were reasonably made based on the services provided
- There is reasonable certainty that you needed these services
- The trauma described can cause the damages that are being claimed
You can rely on other witnesses such as emergency or ambulance service providers, close family members, and insurance adjuster.
Once you are involved in a truck accident, police officers or other local law enforcement officers may come to the scene. In most cases, police officers in any traffic accident are expected to write reports to express their views. This would be suitable evidence to rely on while proving that you suffered injuries due to the accident.
While some reports might provide detailed information, others are not as thorough as you would think. Therefore, you need to go through the details to ensure that it highlights everything about the accident. You need to confirm whether Nevada’s authority allows an amendment to police reports before you ask to amend the report made after the truck accident that you were a victim of.
While going through the police report, ensure that it is specific with its details such as who was responsible for the skid marks on the accident’s scene and whether it points out to the trucker.
You can rely on witness testimonies and provide credible evidence to claim compensation in your truck accident case. There are two types of witnesses that you can depend on in your truck accident case. This includes a lay witness and an expert witness.
Lay witnesses are first-hand individuals who witnessed the occurrence of the truck accident that you were involved in. It is essential to have an eye witness in your case since It provides credibility in your case and would not vest any interest to favor you. That’s why it is recommendable to take note of contact from all the eyewitnesses available in your case to reach out to them later on. Most eyewitnesses give their testimonies under oath to restrict them from any unbiased information.
Expert witnesses are professional witnesses used in cases to prove whether the details provided by other witnesses are credible enough. Expert witnesses in your truck accident case may employ their experience in accident reconstruction, evaluating the economic impact of the accident on you, and medical evaluation of your situation as well. They may also rely on their knowledge to create hypothetical scenarios about the injuries and damages sustained from the accident. Your attorney should help you choose an expert witness that would help in your case, depending on its nature.
Photographs and Videos
Video evidence and photos of your truck accident can help prove that your injuries were from the truck accident. Depending on your position of the accident, video from dash cams can be beneficial and establish a clear perspective of how the collision happened. If your case goes to trial, the footage from the vehicle’s dashcam can be suitable for the case.
Photographs do not generally provide relevant information as video footage, but can still serve a crucial piece in your evidence claim. They may provide a visual representation of your injuries. In that case, you need to take pictures of the injuries from the accident scene until your recovery to have clear documentation of your injuries. With the photo capabilities that most mobile phones have these days, it is possible to get clear footage of the accident.
Report from your Employer
A formal report from your employer can also be suitable evidence that can help you prove causation in the truck accident. The employer letter or report should indicate that you were relieved from your work due to the accident and the date you resumed your regular work. It should also highlight how the injuries sustained from the accident affected or affects your ability to work based on their extent.
You can establish that the truck driver was liable for your injuries by proving that he or she violated a traffic rule. This means that you must be conversant with federal and state trucking laws to use this evidence in your case. Your attorney should help you review these regulations and establish that the injuries sustained from the truck accident were a result of the trucker’s violation of specific traffic rules.
Damages You Could Receive After a Truck Accident
The final element that you need to prove in your case is the damages sustained in the process. Damage is a legal term used to describe all monetary and non-monetary losses incurred in an accident. The main type of damages available in a personal injury case includes economic, non-economic, and punitive damages. The following is a detailed view of these damages.
Economic damages represent losses that can be calculated in terms of dollars and cents with a reasonable level of precision. These includes:
- Present and future medical expenses
- Current and future lost wages
- Expenses for your child care
- Transportation that arises from the accident
If you want to win your case, you need to provide thorough documentary evidence to prove that you suffered the above-stated damages from the truck accident. Some of the evidence that would help you establish these damages include medical records and bills, a formal letter from your employer that proves your missed working hours, and receipts for your transportation during your recovery.
Non- Economic Damages
Intangible or non-economic damages are intended to compensate for the psychological harm caused by accident. The kind of damages that fall under the non-economic category include:
- Mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
You should also provide relevant evidence that proves that you suffered intangible damages in your truck accident. For instance, you can provide a psychological evaluation report from a psychologist to prove that you incurred mental anguish and pain and suffering from the accident. Showing the loss of consortium is different from the other non-economic damages. Your spouse is expected to file this damage since he or she is assumed to be the sufferer.
Punitive damages are different from economic and non-economic damages. They are meant to punish the at-fault party rather than award the victim all the losses incurred after the truck accident. Punitive damages are not automatically awarded, meaning that the plaintiff should provide concrete evidence that proves that the at-fault party acted in gross negligence. One of the ways you can use to show that the trucker's actions were gross negligence includes intoxication at the time of the accident and speeding.
Find a Personal Injury Law Firm Near Me
The Las Vegas Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm focuses on providing quality legal services road accident victims. We ensure that our clients get support and guidance when seeking financial compensation from negligent and at-fault parties or individuals liable for their damages. We are determined to provide the best legal services and achieve the best outcome available for your truck accident case. For more information, contact us at 702-996-1224 for a free comprehensive case evaluation.