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Atlanta Trucking Accident Basics: Who Can You Recover From and When?

If you are injured as a result of a trucking accident, it is critical to get in touch with an attorney to ensure your legal rights are respected. Depending on the specifics of the case you may be entitled to recover compensation from the truck driver, trucking company, and in some cases, the truck manufacturer.

It is important to understand that not all accidents automatically lead to liability for any one party. Instead, some form of negligence must generally be shown. However, the truth is that negligence is quite often the underlying cause of an accident.

Fatal Accidents: Common Causes

For example, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “driver error” is one of the most common causes of trucking accidents. “Driver error” is simply another way of saying negligence—meaning conduct that is below a reasonable standard.

The U.S. Department of Transportation report published last year provides some helpful insight into the causes of these accidents. All told there are usually between 3,500-5,000 fatal truck accidents across the country annually. In about three percent of those cases the drivers had alcohol identified in their system. Overall, the most common causes of these fatal accidents were speed-related errors and distracted drivers. Other common mistakes included failure to maintain one’s lane, obscured vision, and failure to yield. Each of these factors is a type of “driver error” or “negligence.”

The party that is guilty of negligence is the one that may be required to pay. While a truck driver is the most obvious party to have made a driving error, depending on the circumstances of your trucking accident, you may also sue the trucking company or truck manufacturer for the truck driver’s negligence. In fact, you may have a negligence claim against one or more defendants even if your actions or omissions contributed to the accident.

How to Examine Your Case

Technically, to success on a negligence claim a plaintiff must show that a duty was owed, breached, and that the breach caused injury. The first question an attorney will consider when analyzing your case is whether the truck driver owed you a duty. Generally, drivers sharing a road owe one another a duty to employ reasonable care to ensure that their vehicle is operated safely. As a result, this element is usually not difficult to meet.

In most cases the most critical issue is whether a party breached the duty owed. A truck driver breaches their duty when they do not act as a similarly situated, reasonable and prudent person would have acted in the same circumstance. Truck drivers are subject to many professional requirements including, being heeding regulations that dictate factors like how many consecutive hours they can work and what training they must complete. These professional standards are taken into account when determining whether a truck driver’s acts or omissions were reasonable. Long story short: they are held to a higher standard than most regular drivers.

If a breach occurred, then the truck driver (or other relevant parties) will be liable for your injuries or other losses that are proximately caused by their actions. This is the legal term, which denotes that there is a sufficient connection between the injuries or other loss and a defendant’s acts or omissions. Generally, the truck driver will be responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their actions or omissions. Therefore you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and losses, which include: medical bills, lost wages, lost or damages property, pain, suffering, and wrongful death.