Truck Driver Liability in Trucking Accidents
When a trucking accident occurs, the aftermath is often far more catastrophic compared to other vehicular accidents—due largely to the massive size and weight involved. This often leads to significant injuries, making determining liability especially vital so injured parties can recover compensation. There are several steps that must be taken to prove liability and several parties that could be to blame, but it most commonly falls on the truck driver.
Common Causes of Truck Driver Accidents
Common causes of trucking accidents that can be attributed directly to the driver include:
Fatigued driving is a serious issue in the trucking industry. Due to long hours spent on highways, lack of quality sleep, or too few breaks, drivers may doze off at the wheel causing disastrous accidents. While there are federal regulations in place requiring breaks and limiting a truck driver’s hours, drivers don’t always follow these rules.
Whether it’s due to the usage of electronic devices like cell phones or GPS systems or other forms of distraction like eating while driving, truck drivers being distracted is another common cause.
Speeding and Aggressive Behavior
Some truckers face tight deadlines and resort to speeding which could potentially lead to violent collisions due to their size and load weight – aggressive behavior exacerbates this risk even further.
If a driver hasn’t received adequate training about safe vehicle operation with regards to managing oversized loads, such under-preparedness might result in errors leading to serious accidents.
At times, financial incentives or pressures from their employers might encourage drivers to disregard safety protocols for quicker deliveries—such as bypassing mandatory safety inspections or exceeding maximum permissible driving hours. This can jeopardize not only a driver’s own welfare but also exponentially increase the risk of deadly accidents occurring on our highways.
Trucking Company May Be Liable As Well
The doctrine of respondeat superior — literally translated to ‘let the master answer’—is a legal principle that may hold an employer liable for its employees’ misconduct or negligence, including truck drivers.
If a driver was on duty and carrying out activities related to their job when they caused an accident, their employer may be on the hook for your damages.
These scenarios can be complex and typically necessitate expert legal representation, negotiation skills, and deep knowledge of applicable laws.
When The Truck Driver is Only Partially At Fault
In cases where a truck accident took place and the truck driver wasn’t solely to blame, South Carolina follows what’s known as modified comparative negligence. Under this rule, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit if your level of fault for causing the accident doesn’t exceed 51%.
However, according to this principle, any compensation awarded would be reduced by your proportionate share in the liability.
For example – if you’re considered 20% at fault in an accident and suffered damages totaling $100,000, under South Carolina’s modified comparative negligence law, your award would be reduced by 20% ($20,000).
If you’re more than 51% at fault, you can’t recover any compensation.
How To Prove Truck Driver Liability
Proving a truck driver’s liability involves collecting and presenting facts and evidence establishing that the trucker’s actions or inaction directly resulted in your accident. This often means presenting photos or videos of the accident, truck logbooks, electronic log data from the trucks, police reports, and medical records.
Eyewitness and expert witness testimony can also be crucial in corroborating your version of events.
For help from a Charleston truck accident lawyer, contact us to schedule a free consultation.