When preparing for a truck accident case, you need to ensure you meet all case elements. The four main elements build towards showing that the respondent party was negligent. Your case becomes stronger if you can establish that the respondent had a duty of care, they breached it, their breach caused damages, and you suffered damages from it. You will also need the help of a truck accident lawyer to navigate your personal injury case.
At Dallas Horton & Associates, we dedicate our services to providing high-quality services for your personal injury case. We aim to ensure you receive the rightful compensation for your injuries and financial losses from the truck accident. Your assigned attorney will help you review all case elements in readiness for presenting your case in court.
Your lawyer also provides additional guidelines for your consideration, including the evidence to source and deliver in court. You can rely on us for a smooth compensatory case process, as we have helped hundreds of clients establish truck accident case elements in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Nature of Truck Accident Cases
As a truck accident victim, your main reason for filing a court case is to secure compensation from the party responsible. Since you will file a civil suit, your attorney will advise you to file a negligence case to support the personal injury claims.
Establishing negligence is the main objective necessary to meet, and it makes up the case elements to develop before presenting the matter to a judge. Based on this, you must know enough about the aspects that make up a valid negligence claim.
After consultations with your attorney, they will direct you on the subsequent steps to support their efforts to prepare your case. The four main elements to establish negligence in a truck accident are:
- Duty of care
- Breach of the duty
- Damages arising from the truck accident
The presiding judge in your case will require you to present sufficient evidence for each element and a valid line of argument. Your attorney must also prove the respondents' liability on a balance of probabilities, so all evidence should help build your case.
Establishing the case elements correctly requires determining who your respondent is in the truck case, as you must show their negligence. In many cases, the truck driver is the primary respondent, and they are answerable for any actions leading to the incident.
Additionally, you can use the trucking company and truck manufacturers if their actions or omissions also contributed to the accident. When choosing your list of respondents, your attorney will help you determine each person's role and how it resulted in the accident. The court also allows you to prepare a joint suit if you strongly believe two or more parties are responsible for the accident. For example, you can jointly sue the truck driver and trucking company if they contributed to the accident and your injuries and losses.
Case Elements in a Truck Accident Case
In a truck accident case, claimants must establish the respondents' negligence by establishing the four case elements. Although the burden of proof in civil cases is not as strict as in criminal cases, you must sufficiently specify the respondent's liability before the court can order them to compensate.
You can increase your chances of a favorable outcome by providing sufficient evidence to support each element. Further, understanding your case facts and preparing arguments to build your case are also essential.
The following are the four truck accident case elements and how to build them in preparation for your case:
The Existence of a Duty of Care
Establishing a duty of care in negligence cases is paramount because it shows that the respondent should have acted with a specific degree of care. A duty of care is comparable to how a reasonable man would act in particular circumstances, and it encourages rational action that promotes the safety and well-being of persons within the respondent's line of duty.
Duties of care arise from various sources, including statutory law, company policies, regulations, and common practice. Although common training and expectations may be subjective, the standard of care is that of a reasonable man.
Specific to truck cases, the duty of care mainly comes from traffic laws and truck regulations. Truck drivers must know the guidelines and ensure all their operations meet the requirements. Since you will have filed the claim, you should be familiar with the various policies applicable to the respondent to help you establish how they breached their duty.
To do this, you can refer to the provisions as they are in court. Some important sources include:
The Federal Truck Regulations
Truck operators in the country operate under federal truck regulations prepared by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator. The administrator in the body has the mandate to reduce the frequency at which truck accidents occur by creating rules to minimize collisions and careless driving.
The goal of enforcing the truck regulations is to ensure that trucks meet road safety requirements and that the drivers adhere to maximum driving hours to reduce fatigue. By following the rules, drivers can remain more alert while working to reduce the possibility of accidents.
For example, the regulations direct all drivers to drive for only eleven consecutive hours in any fourteen-hour shift and rest for at least ten hours after the shift. The rules also restrict the driver from driving after working for seventy hours in any eight-day shift or for sixty hours in a seven-day shift.
Regulations Under the Nevada Department of Transportation
The operation in Nevada also provides truck regulations to guide truck size and weight and subsequently reduce high-impact accidents arising from overloaded trucks. The regulations provide specific numerical metrics that all truck owners should comply with to make their vehicles acceptable on the road. By regulating truck sizes and weights, truck accidents are less prevalent because there is less obstruction and potential incidents of loads falling off the trucks.
Examples of directives under the Nevada Department of Transportation include restricting truck weight to eighty thousand pounds unless the truck owner or driver has a permit to exceed the weight. Truck drivers should also ensure the vehicle dimensions do not exceed a length of fourteen feet, a width of 102 inches, and a seventy-foot length. Despite this, truck drivers can apply for special permits if they exceed the dimensions and have justified reasons to drive them.
These regulations also aim to impose a duty of care on truck drivers to avoid drinking and driving. Therefore, truck drivers should not operate vehicles with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level above 0.04%. They must also submit to alcohol testing if an officer suspects them of driving under the influence to establish whether driving is safe for them.
If truck drivers violate directives preventing drunk driving, they are liable to face civil and criminal cases. Criminal charges will involve exceeding the BAC level, resulting in a DUI charge. As discussed, civil issues arise when the accident victim seeks compensation and involve proving negligence elements.
Regulations also require truck drivers to pay extra attention to cyclists on highways who may lack an alternative road to use. Doing so is important because the cyclists may be in the driver's blind spot, increasing the chances of an accident.
Pedestrians should also receive priority when crossing the road, meaning that truck drivers should slow down or stop completely until any pedestrian has safely crossed. This directive exemplifies the 'reasonable man' imposition of the duty of care, as all motorists should observe the direction to slow down for pedestrians. Truck drivers also have to stick to the right side of the highway unless overtaking in the left lane.
Remaining in the right lane is important because it prevents traffic buildup on all highway lanes. Moreover, trucks are significantly slower than other vehicles. Failure to observe the directive to remain in the right lane can also push truck drivers and other motorists to overtake without caution, creating a truck accident risk.
Besides truck drivers, trucking companies must also ensure they train their drivers properly and maintain all vehicles well. Routine checks on the trucks should be part of the company culture, and drivers should also undergo regular assessments and continuous training to fulfill their duty of care.
In court, you will choose the regulations applicable to your case to show that the respondent had a duty of care to uphold. Your personal injury attorney can present the specific documents containing rules and case precedent that support the existence of a duty of care through the 'reasonable man' test.
A Breach of Duty Occurred
Upon establishing the existing duty of care, you should demonstrate how the respondent breached it, meaning that they exposed you to harm. A breach of duty may occur through action or omission, depending on the obligations that the respondent ought to have fulfilled.
A truck accident may result from one or multiple breaches simultaneously, and your attorney should be keen to identify any indicators of a breach. They can do this by requesting that you provide a full account of your case, especially in the moments before the accident. Thanks to the details you provide, they can create a hypothesis on the primary accident cause and whether it was avoidable.
You should remember that every case presents different facts, so not all factors will be relevant to yours. Despite this, some indicators of a breach of duty are more common than others. They include:
A truck driver should remain alert throughout their driving shift, as any deviation from the road can potentially result in serious accidents. Distracted driving arises when truck drivers use their phones to text, call, search for directions, or entertain themselves while in transit. Using a phone while on the road is dangerous primarily because it causes visual, auditory, and cognitive distractions, all of which are necessary to drive safely.
A driver may also become distracted when eating or talking to somebody else while driving, as their minds will be otherwise occupied. Most trucking companies have regulations not to drive with unauthorized third parties in the truck, and truck drivers should take snack breaks when necessary.
In court, you can prove that a breach occurred through distracted driving by providing details about the truck driver's phone usage moments before the collision. Any items retrieved from the truck after the accident can also serve as evidence, including food wrappings, earphones, and maps on the dashboard. Your line of argument will be that the driver was probably occupied with the items, making them lose focus on the road.
Loading Cargo Erroneously
Many trucks in transit carry bulky cargo that should be loaded and secured safely into the truck body. Errors during the loading process can be costly, as they may result in destroyed cargo on top of an accident on the highway.
Truck drivers often have checklists and protocol guidelines from their logistics company to ensure the loaded cargo sits safely in the truck. If the loader fails to observe the safety regulations, they breach the duty of care, making them liable in a truck accident case.
You can source evidence of erroneous cargo loading by reviewing highway footage of how the cargo fell off the truck and onto the road. Alternatively, you can examine the truck doors to establish whether they were properly locked to secure the cargo inside or whether an error occurred and the locks remained open. Your attorney can also inquire about the cargo mass to establish that the truck was overloaded, leading to the accident and subsequent injuries to you.
Poor Maintenance Routines
The truck driver's employer may also be liable for a truck accident because they are responsible for ensuring all trucks undergo routine maintenance. If an accident occurs due to brake failures, gearbox issues, poor mechanical function, or any other issues fixable through maintenance, you should consider suing the employer.
When obtaining evidence about their breach, your attorney can request information about the last time the truck underwent maintenance. Since the trucking company may be reluctant to provide the data directly to your attorney, you can request special court orders to have them release the details in the interest of justice.
Driving Under the Influence
Drunk driving is a leading cause of traffic accidents, including truck accidents. Truck drivers operate under a commercial license, which restricts their BAC levels to 0.04% compared to the normal 0.08% levels for other motorists. The lower levels are necessary for commercial driving to prevent losses and injuries not only to third-party road users but also to other passengers in the vehicle.
Establishing a breach of duty for exceeding the BAC level is fairly straightforward because your attorney only needs to obtain information from the criminal department. The truck driver responsible for a DUI will have their records publicly accessible after arrest, helping you use them in civil court to support your case.
Exceeding Speed Limits and Illegal Overtaking
Observing road regulations is critical for all motorists, especially truck drivers, because they operate large vehicles that can cause serious injuries in an accident. A breach of duty occurs if a truck driver is reckless in overtaking and speeding, putting your life in danger in an accident.
Truck drivers should observe speed limits and stick to their designated lanes unless overtaking, and even then, they must remain cautious of other road users. If you can source surveillance footage or highway speed data to indicate the truck driver's breach of traffic regulations, you have a better chance of a positive case outcome.
The Breach Was the Cause of the Accident
Causation is important in any negligence case because it links the president's actions to the outcomes that caused your injury and other losses. To build your causation case element, you need to source all relevant evidence to support the argument that the respondent's actions are the direct cause of the truck accident and your injuries.
The primary premise is to show that you would not have been an accident victim if the truck driver or any other respondent had behaved differently. Establishing causation requires showing the direct link between the respondent's actions and the emerging effects, so your case must be clear and easy to follow.
Sometimes, your case may involve multiple causations where more than one party is responsible for the truck accident. For example, the truck driver may have been distracted when driving, evoking the need for emergency breaks, which failed. If so, you can show that the driver and the truck maintenance company are responsible for accident causation.
Sourcing your evidence is also important; you must ensure it provides all the details necessary to demonstrate the case. An excellent source of evidence is available in police reports on the truck accident, as they often have a detailed account of what occurred.
Reviewing the report, your attorney can highlight details supporting the causation case element. For example, the report will likely expound on how the truck lost control and caused a collision. The information will then help you pin down the driver's responsibility for their acts or omissions that resulted in the accident.
Surveillance footage and truck tracking data can reveal additional details to help you prove causation. For example, if the truck driver used an unauthorized route for trucks that created a safety hazard for other road users, you can indicate this in your case presentation.
Witness testimonies are also important, especially in cases involving multiple causes. Although the testimonies are admissible, your attorney should help you establish that the statements are accurate to help present a clear argument for the causation.
You Suffered Harm and Qualify for Damages
After proving the respondent's role in the accident, you will conclude your case by establishing damages. It requires you to elaborate on how you have suffered from the truck accident and the compensatory amount you will need from the respondent.
Establishing this element is critical for your case, as it justifies the need for monetary compensation to meet your needs. Based on this, your personal injury attorney will help you source all relevant documentary and other evidence to justify the amount you need. Some common justifications for claiming damages include the following:
Medical Expenses for Current and Future Treatment
Truck accidents can cause significant body injuries and disfigurement, warranting continuous treatment. Your doctor may issue in-patient treatment orders to keep you under constant observation, and you may also need emergency operation procedures and drug prescriptions to help during recovery.
These expenses can quickly pile up, justifying your need for compensation. You can support your claims by presenting original doctor's reports, medical bills, and other relevant medical documents showing all the amounts you spent on treatment and projected future expenses.
Loss of Wages
After sustaining serious injuries, you will also be unable to work for an unspecified duration, and you may lose your job altogether. As a business owner, you also face a bigger risk of shutting down operations because you cannot attend to your responsibilities. In court, you can present the estimated amount you lost from your recovery period and any future losses arising from your involvement in an accident.
Pain and Suffering
The court also accepts compensatory requests for non-economic losses like pain and suffering and loss of consortium if you lose a loved one in a truck accident. A justification for this is that you need to recover mentally from the harm and loneliness you face, despite not having a specific monetary value attached.
The court nevertheless assigns an economic value to your suffering and emotional distress by setting a reasonable value. Any amount you receive is not to compensate you for your experiences directly but to help you attain services to comfort you and rebuild your life.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Building a truck accident case requires you to sufficiently prove that the respondent met all four elements of negligence. The defendant should have breached their duty of care, resulting in the damages you suffered. By gathering relevant evidence and presenting it in court, you can raise your chances of a favorable case outcome.
At Dallas Horton & Associates, we strive to provide excellent personal injury law services to any truck accident victim in Las Vegas, Nevada. Our goal is to guide you through the case preparation process and to represent you in court to present a strong case that advocates for your compensation. For more information on truck accident case elements, call us today at 702-820-5917.