The weight of trucks makes them slow to accelerate, maneuver, and stop. This slowness increases the chances of a truck being involved in an accident. Their heavy weight makes injuries more catastrophic and damages more severe than a normal crash. Since there is elevated danger in a truck accident, special laws govern commercial truck drivers and their employers. However, these laws are mainly applied when a truck accident victim files a lawsuit claiming damages.
Due to the complexity of these laws, it is crucial to hire an experienced and skilled Nevada truck accident attorney if you have been injured by a truck and decide to file a personal injury claim. Our truck accident lawyers at Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm have knowledge of the truck accident elements, which can help increase your chances of receiving full compensation.
An Overview of Truck Accident Lawsuits in Nevada
Even though truck drivers are believed to be extra careful on the road, statistics show that there has been a rise in truck accidents in Las Vegas. More than 400,000 truck accident cases were reported to the Nevada police in a year. 20% of these crashes resulted in severe injuries, while 1% caused fatalities. Even though the truck driver is always believed to be at fault after a crash, there are other factors that may cause truck accidents, like poor road conditions and other drivers’ negligence.
Victims of truck accidents sustain different injuries since damages depend on the truck’s weight and the weight of the load being transported. Heavy trucks and those transporting hazardous materials will likely cause more severe injuries. Additionally, victims can sustain injuries caused by the load and not the truck itself.
If you have sustained injuries in a truck collision, you do not have to go through the financial and mental stress alone. The law allows you to sue the liable party and seek compensation. However, you must prove their negligence and the theories of negligence per se. To improve your chances of being compensated, you must also prove liability, causation, and damages which are the elements of a truck accident. You might need the help of a skilled personal injury attorney to help you navigate these elements while filing a lawsuit.
Truck Collision Case Settlement
Recovering your damages is a process that begins immediately after the collision. Regardless of whether you have visible wounds, you should first seek medical attention and then contact your attorney to help you seek compensation from the liable parties. At times, these cases are settled through negotiation, but if the parties are unable to agree, the case proceeds to the court.
The first thing an attorney does is to send a demand letter to the liable party.
Most parties understand how complicated things can get once moved to court, so they will try their best to resolve the matter outside court.
However, most truck companies often blame the victim, making it hard to negotiate with them. When you face a similar hurdle, your attorney will file a lawsuit against the liable party. Regardless of whether you settle the dispute through negotiations or by filing a lawsuit, you must obtain evidence from the crime scene to enhance your chances of receiving total compensation. Some of the evidence that you may present include:
- A report by the police from the accident
- Footage from the crime scene
- Weather report from the day the accident occurred
- The crush’s reconstruction testimony by an expert
- Testimonies and statements by eyewitnesses
- Medical bills and reports
It is your attorney's responsibility to prove and convince the prosecutor that the defendants (liable party) are responsible for the accident and your injuries. If the court's rules are in your favor, you will likely receive punitive and compensatory damages.
Liable Parties in a Truck Accident
When filing a lawsuit in a truck accident, it is essential to have multiple defendants because it enhances your chances of being compensated. The potentially liable parties include the truck driver, insurance companies, employers, road agencies, and trucking companies.
A trucking company can only be liable if you can show a coexisting relationship between the truck driver and the company. There are times when the trucking company can be held liable for the truck driver’s negligence. However, if the driver operates as an independent contractor, you must determine the supervision done by the company to be able to hold them accountable.
Additionally, if you sustained injuries from a truck collision but the injuries were made severe by the load being transported by the truck, you can also hold the manufacturing company liable. But if the manufacturing company had warned the trucking company and the driver of the dangers of transporting the products, the manufacturing company cannot be held liable.
Who Can Sue for Damages in a Truck Collision Case?
Any individual who suffers injuries due to negligent operation of a truck by companies or their employees or negligent maintenance is allowed by the law to file a personal injury suit against the liable party. A plaintiff can be an adult, a minor, a pedestrian, other motorists on the road, a bicyclist, occupants of a truck, or any other person who suffers injuries in a truck accident caused by someone else’s negligence.
Truck drivers can sometimes file claims against the liable parties when they partly share the blame. If a crash victim succumbs, their loved ones can file a wrongful death claim, and they can be compensated for monetary and emotional damage.
How to Prove Truck Accident Elements in Las Vegas
Under the negligence law, any person who causes an accident through their inactions or actions should be accountable for their actions. Hence, if you file a personal injury claim in court, there are several elements that you must prove to increase your chances of being compensated. These elements include:
- Care duty
- Breaching the care duty
The Care Duty
Every driver on the road is responsible for being cautious and driving safely to avoid causing damage or injuring other people on the road. All drivers must follow the traffic rules and regulations put in place to protect people on the road.
If the truck driver is liable for your damages and injuries, it is upon your attorney to prove that the defendant, in this case, the truck driver, owed you a care duty. If the negligent driver did not meet the driving qualifications required by the federal or state government, you could quote the laws violated in your lawsuit.
The law requires drivers operating big rigs to have a special driving license and to have taken a special exam and passed. Drivers who do not meet the required marks in the special test are prohibited from owning a driving license. The law further requires truck drivers to have a license that prohibits them from driving a truck with air brakes until they hit a certain score in an air brake test.
Drivers operating tank automobiles, a double trailer, or transport products that are hazardous must be authorized by the DMV to operate the big rigs and must also meet the following requirements:
- Speak and read English
- Be above 21 years
- Be in great health condition
- Have a medical clearance certificate
- Be able to regulate the speed of the truck, and its movement
- Have the ability to use reasonable care while on the road
These requirements enhance safety when driving trucks and reduce the chances of truck collisions. Every driver should ensure they meet these requirements before operating a truck.
However, if the trucking company was liable for the accident, you must prove that they owed you a care duty, and you can do this by stating their responsibilities as required by the law. For example, the law requires truck drivers to maintain a driver’s qualification file containing the following details:
- The driver's driving records
- Their training certificates
- Their employment history
- Copies of their licenses
- Vehicle maintenance records
- Alcohol and drug tests
- Their employment applications
- Their medical certifications, if any
The law also requires trucking companies to use reasonable care to maintain and equip the trucks. Companies owning commercial trucks should ensure that they are furnished according to the law and undergo regular maintenance.
On the other hand, if a truck’s manufacturer is negligent with its maintenance, your attorney needs to prove that they owed you a care duty. The law also requires road agencies to ensure that the roads are safe. After proving that the defendant owed you a care duty, you need to prove that they breached it.
Breaching the Care Duty
While filing a lawsuit, it is important first to identify the cause of the accident, which will tell you that the liable party breached their duty of care, increasing your chances of being compensated. Big rigs pose a high risk to other vehicles on the road, which is why all truck drivers must follow set rules and regulations to keep other road users safe.
Since most road accidents result from minor and avoidable mistakes which is why most drivers who cause these accidents are said to be negligent. Here are aspects that the plaintiff can use to prove that the defendant did not follow the guidelines which made the cause an accident:
Other Drivers Negligence
Car drivers' mistakes cause more than 50% of accidents. Operating a truck is very different from operating a normal vehicle since trucks have poor visibility and do not apply brakes instantly. However, because most drivers operating passenger vehicles are negligent, they assume this type of detail, causing road accidents.
Driving closely beside or behind a big rig is one of the coon causes of collision between trucks and standard vehicles. There are areas near big trucks marked as no-zones or low visibility areas, and other drivers on the road are prohibited from driving or operating in these areas. Cars operating in a zero visibility area are more likely to collide with a truck since the truck driver might not know a vehicle is beside or behind them.
Another common mistake standard vehicle drivers make is an abrupt change of lanes in front of a big rig. Some drivers go to the right lane while a truck is making a right turn, leading to a collision. Other drivers also misinterpret the speed and proximity of an oncoming truck when overtaking or making a turn, leading to a serious accident. When a standard vehicle driver fails to merge properly in traffic, they can make a truck brake instantly, and due to their weight, the truck may lose control and crash with other vehicles.
Passenger car drivers tend to accelerate or fail to slow down when a big rig is changing lanes, causing accidents. Operating a standard vehicle between two big rigs is also a mistake that could lead to a fatal accident.
If you and your attorney can prove that the other driver did any of the above errors, causing an accident is enough proof that they breached their care duty.
Truck Driver's Negligence
If the truck driver is liable for the accident, you could show that they breached their care duty by either driving while intoxicated, disregarding traffic rules, speeding, or driving an air brake truck when the driver has not passed the airbrake test. Proving that the driver did not possess the special driving license for operating trucks is also an indication of breaching the care duty.
Even though truck drivers are considered to be more cautious on the road compared to standard vehicle drivers, some accidents still result from the negligence of truck drivers. Since there are few truck drivers, some standard vehicle drivers are forced to drive big rigs without the required skills and qualifications. Truck drivers who do not undergo the required training or possess the necessary techniques to operate a truck have a high probability of causing a collision.
Truck drivers’ compensation varies from one company to another. Some companies compensate their drivers well, while others force their drivers to speed or spend long hours on the road in order to earn a decent income. When truck drivers are after making more money, they are likely to disregard most road regulations, causing accidents.
The law prohibits truck drivers from spending long hours on the road and trucking companies from giving their employees unreasonable work targets and schedules, pushing truck drivers to disregard most safety rules and speed limits. This is a common cause of truck accidents.
There are truck accidents that result from drivers failing to be attentive on the road or failing to function properly. Lack of attentiveness on the road is mainly caused by fatigue from lack of sleep and working long hours. The law has set a limit on the number of hours a truck driver should work and the number of hours they are supposed to rest before commencing another shift. Failing to follow these laws puts the driver and other road users at risk of accidents.
The Trucking Company’s Negligence
Since most trucking companies are after making money and gaining profits, it is not unusual that they will bend most safety regulations to hit their unreasonable targets. They should be held liable if they cause an accident when violating these rules.
The law has set a limit that truck companies should maintain and prohibit overloading trucks while on the road. Unfortunately, most trucking companies do not follow these rules and often let overweight trucks hit the road. An overweight truck puts the driver and other road users at risk of a collision since the truck is likely to lose control and hit other vehicles.
It is also the trucking company's responsibility to ensure that their trucks are properly maintained and roadworthy. Vehicles that are not properly maintained are at a high risk of colliding, and in such a case, the trucking company should be held liable. The company should also ensure that the ferried cargo is balanced properly before hitting the road. Failing to do so increases the chances of an accident.
Before allowing their drivers on the road, trucking companies should offer training and guidance on how to operate the trucks to enhance safety measures. When a company ignores qualifications when recruiting drivers or skips the training, they send under-qualified drivers on the road, increasing the chances of an accident. The trucking company should be held liable if an accident occurs due to a driver’s incompetence.
There are laws that govern the size, weight, and route that trucks should use. If a company forges paperwork to breach these laws, it should be held liable if an accident occurs. They are ways you can use to show that a trucking company breached their care duty. You can, for instance, prove that they negligent recruited drivers and failed to train them, they failed to guide the driver on how to operate the truck safely, and their trucks are not properly maintained. Your attorney can also request the trucking company for the driver’s file to check if the driver is qualified to drive a big rig. If the driver happens to be:
- Operating the truck past the required time
- Lacks special training
- Is unlicensed
- Is operating on a suspended license
- Failed a drug test
The trucking company will be considered to have breached the care duty, so they will be held liable for the collision.
It is upon your attorney to prove that the defendant’s breach of care directly impacted your damages and injuries. You could challenge the driver’s lack of license or their lack of experience or training, which caused the accident. Note that cause-in-fact is a crucial part when showing causation. It means that the defendant’s breach of care duty directly impacted your damages.
If the trucking company's negligence when hiring caused your injuries, you could prove that the accident could not have occurred if the company had hired a trained and qualified driver. The defendant’s inaction to be careful led to your injuries.
You will also be required to show that the collision caused direct damages or injuries. Even though the physical damages and injuries sustained from the accident may be visible, the defendant’s lawyer will likely discredit your story, which is why you need to have facts supporting your damages. If you are seeking compensation for your medical expenses, you need to have medical reports and receipts to support your claim. Below are some of the damages you can seek compensation for in a truck accident suit:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of income
- Wrongful death
- Personal injury
- Loss of consortium
- Medical expenses
Economic and non-economic damages could be recovered after a truck accident. Economic value is the damages that are calculable or have monetary value, while non-economic damages are the damages that cannot be estimated.
The steps you can take to prove damages include:
- Avoid exchanging words
- Take photos and videos of the crime scene
- Contact your truck accident attorney. Contacting them ASAP allows them to survey the crime scene and obtain every piece of evidence they can use in your favor.
- Remain at the crime scene
- Obtain contact details of the witnesses
- Contact the police. It is important as the police report will be used in court and can enhance your chances of winning the lawsuit.
If you and your attorney can prove all negligence elements in a truck accident, you may be able to receive compensation for all the damages caused. However, failure to prove the elements of negligence lowers your chances of winning a lawsuit against the defendant.
Find a Las Vegas Truck Accident Attorney Near Me
If you have sustained injuries from a truck accident, having a skilled and experienced attorney by your side enhances your chances of winning the lawsuit. Our truck accident lawyers at Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Law Firm are ready to help you seek compensation. We do our best to fight for your rights and serve your best interests. Contact us today at 702-576-0010 if you are in Las Vegas, NV.