If you are involved in an accident with an 18-wheeler, you should be aware of the legal arguments your truck accident attorney can use when seeking compensation for your injuries and damages. There are strict laws in place that govern the maintenance, repair, and operation of an 18-wheeler as well as the professional conduct of the truck driver. If the driver or trucking company is found to be in violation of any of these laws when an auto accident occurs, there are clearly defined legal arguments that could help your attorney in court, or to reach an 18-wheeler accident settlement. The first thing you should do after an 18-wheeler accident is call the authorities. Their documentation will be vital in the legal claims that are made in court.
1. DEFECTIVE EQUIPMENT
There are federal regulations that dictate a high level of quality control for commercial trucks, such as the air brake systems. If an investigation reveals that the accident was caused by a defect in one of the truck’s main components, it might mean a case against the supplier or manufacturer of the equipment. This argument falls under a legal theory known as product liability, and it can be a decisive factor in an 18-wheeler accident settlement.
In Arkansas, 18-wheeler accident cases require the truck driver to provide recent inspection reports detailing the vehicle’s condition before and after a trip. Records of compliance with road safety standards must be maintained by the driver who should keep all work and repair orders for verification. A qualified truck accident attorney can subpoena such documents to determine whether the driver and trucking company maintained compliance.
2. DRIVING OFFENSES
The legal concept at play with legal driving offenses is known as negligence per se. In essence, this means that the driver of the truck is negligent based on a violation of the law. This may be as mild as speeding, but can be as serious as drinking while driving. In order to prove negligence per se, your truck accident attorney will explain in court how the law was intended to prevent the accident and/or injuries that occurred and show evidence of how the law was violated.
3. BAD DRIVER HIRED
All 18-wheeler drivers are required by law to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL). In order to obtain a CDL, the driver must past a rigorous exam, have no prior disqualifying criminal offenses such as a DUI, and pass a physical exam. If you discover that the driver of the truck in your accident does not have a CDL, your attorney may make this legal argument. Even if the driver has a CDL, if they have a history of prior convictions related to negligent or drunk driving, they should not have been hired. Your truck accident attorney can find out if a bad driver was hired. The theory of liability, respondeat superior, dictates that the trucking company would be held responsible for the actions of the driver working within the scope of their employment.
4. DRIVER FATIGUE
Was the 18-wheeler driver tired when the accident occurred? If so, this legal argument may help your attorney’s case to reach a settlement. There are Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules and regulations on how much time truck drivers can spend on the road before taking a break. Thanks to the records that the trucking company is legally required to keep, your truck accident attorney will be able to determine if the truck driver was put in a situation where fatigue could have caused the accident.
5. WAGE AND HOUR VIOLATIONS
Related to driver fatigue, wage and hour violations are serious offenses, especially if the truck driver is involved in an auto accident, which could be the basis for an 18-wheeler accident settlement. With strictly enforced limits on how many hours a truck driver can work in a row coupled with the fact that drivers keep their own records, a driver could falsify their records. Uncovering that a truck driver has committed an hour violation can lead to a settlement in your favor.
If you or a loved one were involved in an auto accident with an 18-wheeler, contact the experienced truck accident attorneys at Caddell Reynolds at 800-671-4100.