Poor Truck Maintenance and Accidents: Understanding this Legal Niche
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There are many legal niches. Some of them, like business law, attract the brightest litigators. Some lawyers like very niche legal areas because they’re interesting and profitable.
In this article, we’ll talk about a narrow legal niche: truck maintenance and accidents. If you don’t take care of your commercial truck, and that causes an accident, or you harm someone through your negligence, you might pay in court if a jury finds against you.
You’ll need a skilled lawyer representing you. You’ll also need an attorney on your side if a commercial truck harmed you and you think poor maintenance played a part.
What is a Commercial Truck?
Commercial trucks are vehicles used for commercial purposes. If you see a big eighteen-wheeler rumbling down the highway, that’s usually a commercial truck.
Loaded commercial trucks can easily weigh 80,000 pounds. When you digest that information, you can see why commercial truck maintenance matters. Companies that use trucks to deliver goods or for other purposes must maintain those trucks. If they don’t, people can die or sustain serious injuries. Property damage can happen as well.
Poor Truck Maintenance and Accidents or Driver Negligence?
If a commercial truck hits a person, another vehicle, or an inanimate object, you might wonder what caused that. Poor maintenance is possible since a driver might lose control if the company does not check the truck and do any required maintenance before sending it out on the road.
However, more times than not, driver negligence or error causes commercial truck accidents. If a commercial truck hit you or your car, and you hire a lawyer to pursue a lawsuit against the driver or their company, the attorney must first determine whether driver error or poor maintenance caused the damage.
They might look at the truck’s service records. They may also try to find pictures or videos that show what happened during the crash.
If your car has a dashboard camera, they might use that. They may also look for store camera or traffic camera footage. Eyewitness accounts might come into play. They may also hire an accident reconstruction expert to help prove your case.
Commercial trucking companies have federal regulations with which they must comply. The drivers can’t drive for too many hours in a row without taking a break. Mechanics must also service the trucks on schedule.
If a commercial truck hits your vehicle or yourself, your lawyer will demand to see the truck’s last service records. They might indicate something wrong with the truck that the company missed. The attorney may also find that the company did not service the truck according to the timeline the law requires.
If that happens, and your lawyer can prove it, it’s much more likely that you’ll win your lawsuit. You’ll have the company dead to rights if they should have done truck maintenance, but they didn’t do so for some reason.
A trucking company might also falsify a report if they didn’t do the maintenance on schedule and the truck malfunctioned and hurt someone or caused some damage. Your lawyer will look for irregularities they can prove if driver error does not seem likely.
Who Caused Your Injuries and Other Damages?
Your lawyer will also work to identify anyone you can include in the lawsuit, assuming you eventually bring one. In commercial truck accident cases, you can sometimes sue multiple entities. You might sue both the driver and the trucking company if your lawyer sees a way that they’re both at fault.
The trucking company and the driver might hire the same lawyer or separate ones. In these cases, matters quickly become complicated. You might have to fight it out with the driver’s lawyer and the company’s lawyer for weeks in the courtroom before the jury finally reaches a verdict.
Are These Cases Likely to Reach a Jury’s Decision?
With commercial truck companies, you often have situations where they want to protect their reputations. They might conduct an internal investigation and try to find out what happened, even as they stonewall you in court.
They might choose to settle out of court because if they don’t, and they pursue the matter to a jury’s decision, it can devastate and company if they lose. They might have many contracts with other businesses that can dissolve if these entities learn the trucking company cuts corners and causes accidents.
Because of this, if the trucking company finds that they caused the accident, either through driver error or shoddy truck maintenance, they might try settling with a crash victim out of court. They want to resolve the matter quickly without the negativity that a long, drawn-out trial might bring.
If a trucking company lets the case get to a jury’s decision, they probably feel strongly they did not cause the accident. Their lawyers told them to play hardball, and they agreed that’s the best way forward.
If this happens, maybe you’ll win your case, or perhaps not. It all depends on whether you hired a good lawyer and how much evidence they uncovered during the investigation.
Lawyers Who Know Commercial Truck Accident Law
Commercial truck accident cases are personal injury cases. However, not all personal injury lawyers will take one on. That’s because this legal niche has particular facets that some personal injury lawyers might not know.
If a commercial truck hurt you, and you’re going up against a trucking company, they might have deep pockets, but not all personal injury lawyers can help you. Make sure when you ask around that you get one that knows about this legal area and has taken on these cases before. You want someone experienced who knows how to stand up to commercial trucking companies and the powerful law firms they hire.
In the best-case scenario, you can prove driver error or that the trucking company didn’t service the vehicle like the law requires. You can get the company to settle out of court or obtain money through a jury’s decision.