Large semi-trucks don’t have to be going very fast to cause devastating injuries in an accident. When semi trucks are moving fast, however, accidents usually turn deadly or catastrophic. Although most trucking companies ensure that their drivers are well trained, their trucks are well maintained, and that drivers comply with all relevant regulations, truck accidents still occur on a regular basis.
Typical Law Governing Truck Accidents
Utah Truck accident lawsuits are typically governed by negligence law. Because truck accidents are largely governed by the same laws that govern car accidents, laws governing fault are quite developed. While this list is by no means comprehensive, a lawsuit to recover money damages for your injuries that resulted from a truck accident can be based on one or more of the following:
Violation of Statute, Ordinance or Safety Law. The truck driver’s ordinance/safety/traffic violation resulted in your injuries. However, a truck driver may still be at fault for an accident even if he/she did not violate a statute, ordinance, or safety law.
Reasonable Care. The truck driver failed to use reasonable care to avoid injuring others. Here, you must show that the driver did not act as a reasonably careful person would in a similar situation, and you suffered injuries as a result.
Control of Vehicle. The truck driver failed to keep their truck under reasonable control and to operate the vehicle so as to avoid danger.
Maintain a Proper Lookout. The truck driver failed to keep a proper lookout for other traffic and hazards that can be reasonably anticipated.
Following at a Safe Distance. The truck driver failed to follow your vehicle at a reasonable distance, considering all existing conditions and circumstances.
Vehicle Maintenance. The truck driver operated his/her vehicle when it was in an unsafe condition.
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Please be aware that these laws have been simplified to their most basic form. Almost every lawsuit is unique, containing caveats, exceptions, and other fine details that apply to the specific circumstances of the case.
What if the Accident is Partially my Fault?
Partial fault doesn’t necessarily bar you from an award of money damages, but it does affect the amount you may be awarded. Utah courts use a “comparative fault” negligence system. This means that if you are involved in an accident, and that accident was partially your fault, the jury will attribute a certain percentage of fault to you, and a certain percentage of fault to the other driver(s). The amount of money awarded by the jury will be reduced by your apportionment of fault. If a jury finds that you are 50% or more at fault (half or more), then you cannot recover any money.
Here are a couple of examples of how this works:
Example 1: You are suing Driver for injuries you suffered in a car accident. You are seeking payment of $100,000, and the jury has determined this amount to be fair. However, the jury also determines you are 30% at fault. So, you will have a reduction in money damages by your percentage of fault (30% reduction of $100,000 = $30,000). Therefore, you will be awarded $70,000, because the jury determined the Driver was 70% at fault (70% of $100,000 = $70,000).
Example 2: You are suing Driver for Injuries you suffered in a car accident. You are seeking payment of $1 million. The jury determines that you are 50% at fault for the accident. You will not be able to recover any money damages and will get nothing.
Do I Sue the Driver or the Trucking Company?
Both—you should sue the driver and the trucking company. The trucking company, and the trucking company’s insurance company, will probably end up covering any and all money damages. However, in some situations you may need to recover money damages directly from the truck driver himself.
I’ve Already Been Offered a Settlement, Why Hire an Attorney?
Both Insurance companies and trucking companies want to pay you as little as possible. Most trucking companies have handled enough lawsuits to know that settling as soon as possible, preferably before an attorney is hired, is financially advantageous to them. Frequently, these companies will offer you a settlement for less than your basic expenses, or for an amount that just covers your basic expenses (out of pocket costs + medical bills). Click here for more information on calculating the worth of your personal injury claim.
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Call Red Law For A Consultation
Our office welcomes new clients and will always provide you with a friendly and professional attorney that will be happy to discuss your case with you. If you’d like to discuss your injuries resulting from a truck accident and a potential lawsuit with a Red Law attorney, please call us at 801-4770-RED or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. In a consultation with a Red Law attorney, your attorney will provide you with a professional opinion of your case, how Red Law can help you, and a rough time frame for your potential lawsuit.