How Is Fault Determined in a Semi Truck Accident?

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An attorney helps her client on crutches determine fault in a semi truck accident in North Carolina.

It can be difficult to determine fault in semi truck accidents, especially if multiple vehicles are involved, more than one driver is at fault, or the cause of the crash is unknown. If bad weather was a factor in the crash, the semi truck”jackknifed” out of nowhere, or other uncontrollable factors were involved, determining who caused the accident could be difficult. Different types of semi truck accidents, such as truck defects and rear-end collisions, are easier to determine liability.

If you are involved in a semi truck accident and need assistance determining who is at fault, the first step should be to gather evidence and consult a lawyer. Taking photos of the accident scene, gathering information from other drivers involved, seeking immediate medical attention, and filing a police report are all ways to gather evidence after a semi truck accident. Your lawyer can use this evidence to analyze your case and determine whether you are eligible to receive compensation for the damages caused by the accident.

In Semi-Truck Accidents, Can More Than One Person Be at Fault?

It is common to believe that only one driver is at fault in an accident, but in some cases, more than one driver is at fault. A semi truck and a passenger vehicle both turning at the wrong time are examples of this, as are two vehicles attempting to change lanes simultaneously.

When it comes to accidents, states in the U.S, either have a ‘No Fault’ or an ‘At Fault’ rule. If a semi truck accident occurs in a no-fault state, both drivers must seek compensation from their insurance company, regardless of fault. The driver who caused the accident cannot be sued unless the state where the accident occurred has a damages threshold. North Carolina is classified as an ‘at fault’ state.

North Carolina Negligence Laws

Determining whether you are eligible to recover damages from a semi truck accident in states that follow the at-fault rule can be more difficult. Each at-fault state has its own system of negligence. The two most common systems of negligence are comparative and contributory negligence:

  • Comparative negligence is classified into two types. If you are partially at fault in a semi truck accident in an at-fault state that uses ‘pure comparative negligence,’ you and the other party involved in the crash can both recover damages proportional to your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 20% at fault in an accident and a semi truck driver is 80% at fault, you can recover 80% of the total damages from the crash, while the semi truck driver can recover the other 20%. If the accident occurs in a state that employs modified comparative negligence,’ the only party eligible to recover damages is the driver who is less than 50% at fault in the crash. If the fault in the accident is split, the parties cannot sue and must file a claim against their insurance company to recover damages.
  • However, in contributory negligence systems, if either party can prove that the other driver was slightly negligent at the time of the accident, neither party is eligible to recover damages from the crash in at-fault states that use a contributory negligence system. North Carolina is one of the few states who hold this stringent legal standard. An experienced lawyer can assist you in determining liability and informing you of your case’s options. When it comes to determining liability in North Carolina semi truck accidents, it is essential to have the assistance of an experienced North Carolina accident attorney.

Semi Truck Accident Fault

In 2017, 97% of people killed in collisions involving a large truck and a passenger vehicle were occupants of the passenger vehicle. Semi-trucks have many blind spots and take longer to come to a complete stop than passenger vehicles, which can be dangerous to other drivers on the road. If you are involved in a semi truck accident and need assistance determining a semi truck accident fault, an attorney can determine who caused the accident and whether the truck driver’s negligence was to blame. If the truck driver caused the accident, you might be able to recover damages through a truck accident claim.

Evidence Collection at the Crash Site

A commercial truck accident scene is typically chaotic and perplexing for those involved. The first priority for all parties is to seek medical attention for any injuries. In some cases, there are unseen injuries that people are unaware of, so it is critical to see a doctor for an evaluation even if they are not experiencing pain right away

However, evidence that can be used in a future injury case may be gathered at the scene of the accident. For example, we always advise people to use their cell phone cameras to photograph everything they see. This includes the following:

  • Damage to the vehicle
  • Skid marks or debris
  • Weather and traffic conditions
  • Signs on the road
  • The crash’s possible causes
  • Numbers on license plates
  • The trucking company’s name
  • Injuries

You can even use your phone to record a video of the entire scene after taking photographs to ensure you don’t miss anything. Furthermore, if there are any eyewitnesses to a commercial truck crash, those involved must obtain their names and contact information before they leave the scene. Eyewitness testimony can be helpful evidence for insurance companies or a personal injury jury.

Evidence Collection in the Days and Weeks Following the Crash

Not all evidence required to prove liability will be gathered at the time of the crash. In the days and weeks following a commercial truck crash, steps must be taken to continue gathering evidence, which will most likely involve the use of a skilled semi truck accident lawyer. An attorney can intervene and use their resources to obtain court orders requiring the collection of the following types of evidence:

  • The electronic logging device used by the truck driver (ELD)
  • The electronic control module of the truck (ECM)
  • Training records for truck drivers
  • The driving record of the driver
  • Vehicle inspection and maintenance records for trucking companies
  • Surveillance video from cameras near the accident scene

In some cases, working with an accident reconstruction expert who can piece together what happened and craft scientific and mathematically improved visuals rendered into 3D models or computer software may be necessary.

Semi Truck Accident Lawyer

If you are ready to file an insurance claim, you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney. A lawyer can protect you from the other party’s insurance company while documenting the accident’s details. In addition, your lawyer is looking out for your best interests and will do everything possible to recover compensation for your pain and suffering.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a semi truck, do not hesitate to contact an experienced semi truck accident lawyer at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ by calling (800) 529-0804 or contacting us online to schedule your case evaluation today. An experienced semi truck accident lawyer will represent you in negotiations with the insurance company, explain your legal rights, respond to your inquiries, and seek the best possible outcome for your case. In addition, at Tatum & Atkinson, ‘the Heavy Hitters,’ you owe us nothing unless we win.