Georgia law defines ordinary negligence as the failure to exercise “that degree of care which is exercised by ordinarily prudent persons under the same or similar circumstances.”
Establishing negligence is a critical component in truck accident cases. How you prove negligence in a truck accident could determine liability and who you could pursue for compensation in an insurance claim or lawsuit.
The Elements of Negligence in a Truck Accident Claim
Negligence is broken up into four components. So, when a truck accident lawyer from our firm attempts to establish negligence, they’ll work through each of these elements.
Duty of Care
A duty of care is the foundation of truck accident cases. It’s also the simplest element to prove. That’s because all drivers must protect others on the road from harm. This obligation is called a duty of care. Thus, to hold someone negligent, they must have owed the party they harmed a duty of care.
Breach of Duty
The next step in establishing negligence is proving that the at-fault party didn’t uphold their duty of care. Roadway breaches of duty of care include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Failing to yield the right of way
However, unlike the previous step, proving a breach often isn’t a given. Our team can show how the party didn’t uphold their duty of care and caused a truck accident by presenting evidence like:
- A police accident report
- Traffic camera or dashcam footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert testimony from a crash reconstruction specialist
- The truck’s onboard recorder
Causation of Damages
It’s not enough to prove that another party didn’t uphold their duty of care. Instead, there must be a clear linkage between their actions and the accident. For example, on its own, the fact the truck driver exceeded the speed limit doesn’t necessarily constitute grounds for legal action. However, if driving faster than the posted speed limit caused the accident, that would provide the necessary linkage for an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Damages are the last step of a negligence claim. Once your lawyer has shown that a party acted negligently and caused an accident, they’ll need to show how this accident harmed you. Damages in a truck accident case usually include:
- Lost income
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death
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Possible Negligent Parties in a Truck Accident Case
Trucking accidents can involve several liable parties from which you could pursue compensation.
You could sue the truck driver personally, particularly if they operate as an independent contractor. These cases often involve dealing with the truck driver’s individual insurance plan, although they may have purchased liability insurance through their business.
Suppose the truck driver in your crash isn’t an independent contractor. In this case, Georgia law allows for vicarious liability, meaning you can hold their employer liable for the driver’s actions. You could also hold the trucking company responsible if it didn’t:
- Ensure the safety of their vehicles: Trucking companies must maintain safe trucks. If they don’t consistently perform safety checks of their vehicles, a truck could malfunction, causing an accident.
- Perform background checks on their drivers: Trucking companies must ensure their drivers have clean records and aren’t prone to behaving dangerously on the roadway. For example, suppose a drunk driver caused your accident. If they had a previous driving under the influence conviction, you could hold the trucking company at fault.
- Require drivers to follow federal and state regulations: Per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, truck drivers typically cannot drive for more than 11 hours straight. Driving beyond this limit can cause a trucker to become sleepy and inattentive, which could lead to a crash.
Sometimes, trucking companies or drivers don’t cause an accident. For example, truck manufacturers owe drivers a duty of care in the manufacturing process, as do truck parts producers. If an unsafe design or malfunctioning part led to the accident, you could hold the truck or parts manufacturer responsible.
Another driver on the roadway may have caused your accident. For example, suppose they swerved into the truck’s path, forcing the truck driver into your vehicle. The same precedents of establishing negligence apply to the other driver in these situations.
A truck accident lawyer from our firm can review the circumstances that caused the accident and determine liability for your damages.
Pursuing a Truck Accident Settlement
Establishing negligence is one aspect of pursuing a settlement. Truck drivers and trucking companies typically carry liability insurance, which pays out settlements to the victims of negligence.
To secure a liability insurance settlement, you’ll also need to negotiate with relevant insurers. An attorney from our firm can manage this aspect of a truck accident case by:
- Gathering and organizing evidence
- Communicating with insurers and other appropriate parties
- Advising you on what you should or shouldn’t say to insurers
- Recommending whether to accept or reject a settlement offer
- Initiating a lawsuit if settlement negotiations falter
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Get Started on Your Truck Accident Case Today
Let Bader Scott Injury Lawyers help you fight for fair compensation. Our lawyers have won millions of dollars in personal injury settlements for our clients. We don’t charge anything upfront, and we’ll review your case for free.
You’re entitled to legal representation after a truck accident. So, get in touch with the team at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers when you’re ready.