Accidents involving commercial trucks are a special type of traffic accident that differs from normal car wrecks in both practical and legal matters. From a practical standpoint, accidents that include a commercial truck can be especially dangerous. Nationwide statistics reveal that 83 percent of people killed in truck accidents are either pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles. Given the abnormally severe consequences of truck accidents, it can be important to understand the general law surrounding them, as well as the specific concerns that arise in truck accidents as opposed to other types of crashes. A North Carolina personal injury attorney can help explain.
The Law of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are governed by the same law that governs most traffic accidents. This means that the lawsuit will most likely proceed under a theory of negligence. In order for the victim to succeed in showing that the defendant acted negligently, they will need to prove four things:
- That the defendant had the responsibility to use “reasonable care” to prevent harm from coming to the plaintiff (motorists almost always have this responsibility towards each other)
- That the defendant acted carelessly
- That the defendant’s careless actions caused the accident
- That the plaintiff suffered harm in the accident
While these four things, often called the elements of negligence, arise in most traffic accident lawsuits, the fact that a commercial truck was involved creates unique considerations, especially because the truck driver may be an employee of a company.
Unique Considerations for Trucks
Commercial trucking accidents differ from normal automobile crashes in a variety of ways. One of the most common changes is the fact that commercial truck drivers are often employees of a company. This means that the person whom the truck driver injured may be able to hold the corporation responsible for the acts of its employee. This could happen through two different methods.
First, the plaintiff could try to show that the trucking company was in some way negligent. Examples of negligent behavior on the part of companies might include improper maintenance of the trucks, insufficient training of the employees, or a failure to properly supervise employees. This last issue of improper supervision can be important since there are particular regulations related to the trucking industry that govern things like the amount of time that a driver may spend on the road consecutively. Failing to abide by these regulations could increase the chance of a serious accident.
Even if a corporation is not negligent in its own actions, the court may still hold it responsible for its driver’s actions under a doctrine known as “vicarious liability.” This doctrine states that employers may be held liable for their employees’ actions in situations where an employee is acting on behalf of the employer.
Contact a North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident caused by a negligent or reckless truck driver, contact a seasoned North Carolina truck accident attorney. Truck accidents can be more complex than other types of motor vehicle accidents because depending on the circumstances of the crash, there may be multiple parties who are liable for a victim’s injuries.
Our Carolinas personal injury law firm has successfully represented many clients who were injured in truck accidents and will use all available resources to aggressively advocate for you and your family in obtaining the financial compensation you deserve. Call Shapiro, Appleton, Washburn & Sharp today to schedule a free and confidential consultation and find out what your legal options may be.