If you are facing a lawsuit following a truck accident, it is important to know that the burden of proof lies with the plaintiff. They must supply evidence that you, as the truck driver or trucking company, should be found at fault. As your truck accident lawyer, we must argue against those claims and present counter-evidence that disproves the claim that you should be held liable. You can see why having an experienced truck accident lawyer on your side is so important!
Let's take a look at how a truck accident lawyer can potentially defend you against a lawsuit following a truck accident.
In the state of Tennessee, modified comparative fault can be imposed in a truck accident case using the 50% rule. Damages will not be paid if the plaintiff is found to have 50% of the fault. If the plaintiff is 49% or less at fault, they receive a percentage of the damages in line with their level of fault. This can be a good way for your truck accident lawyer to reduce your liability and the damages you have to pay. For example, If one of your trucks collides with a vehicle and was speeding, then you may be found at fault, and the plaintiff may be awarded damages. Let's call it $200,000. However, if the plaintiff cut out in front of the truck without a turn signal, it can be argued that they had a role in the accident even though your truck was driving too fast! The judge may rule that the plaintiff is 40% at fault, meaning the damages to be paid are reduced to $120,000.
Your truck accident lawyer will evaluate all the evidence available to them to determine the fault in your accident. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, it may be that fault lies not with you or the plaintiff but with a third party. For example, if a mechanical failure in the truck caused the accident, the manufacturer or your service center has liability. The same can be said of a tire blowout caused by overloading the truck. If a third party loaded the cargo, they could be named as liable in the lawsuit.
Proving Existing Injuries
It is not unheard of for individuals to use their existing illness or injury to their advantage when filing a personal injury lawsuit, claiming those injuries were triggered by the truck accident. The plaintiff and their team have a burden of proof to demonstrate that the accident exacerbated these injuries, but if they claim the accident caused them, your truck accident lawyer can look to medical records and expert testimony to prove that this is not the case and they are embellishing the extent of the injury.
Poor Road Conditions
It is no secret that poor road conditions can result in road accidents, and when a heavy commercial truck is involved, it can result in devastation. Suppose the roads were abnormally slick, full of potholes, or in otherwise poor condition. In that case, these can be contributing factors to your accident and can be used by your truck accident lawyer to reduce your liability.
Other Road Users At Fault
Many drivers on the road do not fully comprehend or respect the difference in driving something like an 18-wheeler compared to a car. Trucks have a wider turning circle and longer braking distance and generally handle differently. Often the drivers of other vehicles do not take this into account and do not leave enough space, cut across lanes, or misjudge the distance between them and an oncoming truck. This can result in the truck driver taking evasive action or braking suddenly, which may, in turn, result in an accident with someone else. In this situation, it can be argued that the other vehicle was at fault. This can be backed up with evidence from the truck's black box and any available dashcam footage.
What Sort of Claims Might be Filed Against You?
Whether or not your truck accident lawyer uses any of the defenses mentioned above will depend not only on the specific circumstances of the accident but also on the claims that the plaintiff has filed against you. Some of the claims that might be filed could include:
- Driver Negligence - This type of claim will cover accidents caused by a driver through reckless driving, traffic violations, or breach of federal trucking regulations such as driving too many hours, overloading the truck, or failing to inspect the truck properly.
- Vicarious Liability - If the truck driver named in the lawsuit caused the accident while operating the truck within the bounds of his employment, the trucking company could be held vicariously liable for the driver's negligence as an employee of the trucking company.
- Negligent Hiring, Training, or Supervision - As an employer, trucking companies are considered negligent if they fail to appropriately background check drivers when hiring them or for failing to provide appropriate training and supervision to ensure the safe operation of the truck.
- Negligent Maintenance - Failure to properly service and maintain the trucks in the fleet can result in accidents making the trucking company liable. In some cases, if a part has malfunctioned, it may be the manufacturer who shoulders the responsibility.
If you have been involved in a truck accident and are now facing a lawsuit, you need to get in touch with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible to build your defense.
Butler, Vines and Babb is a leading law firm in Knoxville, TN, with extensive litigation experience in Medical Malpractice Law, Birth Injury Law, Trucking Accident Law, Personal Injury Law, and Business Law. Contact us today at www.bvblaw.com or call 865-637-3531.
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