Causation And Liability In Truck Accidents
As with most traffic crashes, large truck accidents are typically caused by some form of negligence. Negligence occurs when a person fails to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent and careful person would exercise under similar circumstances. Whether a defendant acted negligently in a situation is a question of fact that will be decided by the jury. In a civil lawsuit, it is the plaintiff’s obligation to prove each element of the tort of negligence to the jury by a preponderance of the evidence. The elements of a negligence claim are duty, breach, causation and damages. To prove these elements, the plaintiff must generally show that the defendant owed a legal “duty” of care to the plaintiff under the circumstances, that the defendant “breached” or failed to perform that duty, that the defendant’s breach “caused” the accident or injury and resulted in the plaintiff suffering “damages.”
Several different parties may be liable to the plaintiff after a truck accident. These parties can include, for example, the truck driver, his or her employer, the owner of the truck or transportation company, other drivers, and possibly even the owner of the cargo. If the accident or injuries were caused by defectively designed or manufactured products, the plaintiff may also be able to pursue a products liability case against the sellers of those products. Further, if it can be shown that the accident was the result of a dangerous or defective highway design, a claim may be brought seeking damages from the responsible local, state or federal government agencies.
Determining who is responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries can be very difficult to ascertain, and it is critical that an experienced attorney is consulted at the earliest possible time after the accident. If the plaintiff delays seeking counsel, crucial evidence can be lost forever and the value of the claim can be greatly diminished.