Should I Hire an 18-Wheeler Lawyer Even if I am Partially at Fault?
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Any automobile accident can be frustrating. However, some automobile accidents can be worse than others. For instance, an automobile accident involving a passenger vehicle and an 18 wheeler would likely be worse than an automobile accident involving just two passenger vehicles. If you were involved in an automobile accident with an 18 wheeler, you may have suffered serious injuries and you may wish to seek compensation for your injuries. However, what do you do if you were partially responsible for the accident?
If you or your loved one has been involved in an accident with an 18 wheeler and was partially at fault for the accident, you may still be entitled to compensation. Call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers.
How Partial Fault Can Affect Your Case
Texas uses what is called the modified comparative fault rule. In automobile accident claims, the modified comparative fault rule states that an individual involved in an automobile accident can only expect to seek payment from the negligent driver or by his or her insurance company if the negligent driver was at least 51% responsible for the accident.
Three possible scenarios exist under this rule. If you are found 51% or more responsible for the accident, then you may not be able to seek compensation. If you are found not at all responsible for the accident, then you may seek the full compensation awarded by the jury or the court. If you are found 50% or less at fault, then the compensation you are awarded may be reduced by the percentage of the fault you had.
In a truck accident case involving an 18 wheeler and a passenger vehicle, it is possible that the truck driver was not completely at fault for the accident. Certainly, the truck driver could have been asleep at the wheel or was speeding, but this does not mean that the truck driver was completely at fault for the accident.
The other driver may have also been partially responsible for the accident if he or she was texting while driving or engaging in other behaviors that led him or her to drive distractedly. In such cases, the jury will look to see how much of the accident was caused by the driver of the passenger vehicle and compare the driver’s fault with that of the truck driver.
Is It Still Worth Pursuing a Claim?
Texas’s modified comparative rule does not mean that if you were partially at fault for an accident, you are completely ineligible for compensation. Even if you were partially responsible for the accident, there are many factors that could show that you were not 51% or more at fault. For instance, even if you were driving distractedly, if the truck driver was driving recklessly and dangerously, an experienced lawyer may still be able to seek compensation for you by showing that the truck driver’s reckless driving was what predominately caused the accident.
How Liability Is Determined
To have a successful negligence claim against a driver, you must show the following:
You need to first show that the truck driver owed you a duty. Though truck drivers have many duties, they have a fundamental duty to not engage in reckless driving.
Breach of Duty
A breach of duty simply means that the truck driver violated a duty owed to you. For instance, the truck driver owes you a duty to not engage in reckless driving but decides to speed and change lanes arbitrarily. This kind of behavior would be a breach of duty.
To satisfy this prong of negligence, you must suffer an injury on your person or your property.
To show proximate cause, you must be able to prove that the breach of duty caused your injury. So using the example given above, you would have to prove that the accident that led to your injury occurred because the truck driver was speeding and changing lanes arbitrarily.
How to File a Claim?
1. Call a Truck Accident Lawyer
Deciding to file a truck accident lawsuit on your own can be a daunting task. Because a truck accident involves not only the drivers but also the trucking company as well, the litigation can become extremely complex. If you were partially at fault, that complicates a case even further.
An experienced lawyer can guide and assist you in the process. In truck accident claims where the plaintiff was partially at fault for the accident, an experienced lawyer will likely mitigate the fault of the plaintiff by focusing on the truck driver’s reckless driving or other factors that might show that the plaintiff was less than 51% at fault for the accident.
In the investigative stage, your lawyer will collect all of the relevant documents and evidence necessary to file a claim. These include medical bills, witness statements, official reports, employment reports, etc.
However, to make your lawyer’s job a bit easier, make sure to always document and retrieve evidence from the scene of the accident. Get the name, address, license number, plate number, and insurance information from all the drivers involved in the accident. Because a truck driver likely works for an employer, you should obtain the name and contact information of the trucker’s company.
Witness testimony is often key in automobile accident cases. If there were witnesses to the accident, you should also get the names and contact information of the witnesses. If any of the witnesses took photographs or video recordings of the accident, ask them for copies. If you yourself have a camera at the scene of the accident, take some photographs of the scene.
3. Case Settlement
There will generally be a discussion for settlement before any lawsuit is actually filed. Once the insurance company sends you an offer, be sure to discuss the offer with your lawyer. Do not simply accept the offer as your lawyer may able to negotiate with the insurance company to get a better offer.
In Texas, any civil action for a personal injury must be filed within two years from when the injury occurred. In other words, if you were involved in a car accident, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim.
It is important to speak with an attorney to understand more about the legal time limits pertaining to your case because, in some cases, you may be able to file a claim even after the time limit has expired.
Who Can I Sue?
As the person most directly involved in the accident, a claim against the driver is always permissible.
The Trucking Company
In general, you are allowed to sue the employer of the employee as long as the employee was performing his or her work-related duties at the time of the accident.
For instance, if a truck driver causes an accident while moving cargo from point A to point B, then you are likely able to sue the employer because the truck driver was doing work for his employer. However, if the truck driver was not moving cargo but instead taking the truck for personal reasons, then you are unlikely going to be able to sue the employer because the truck driver was not performing any work for the employer.
You are sometimes able to sue the trucking company if you can show that the company failed to perform routine maintenance on the truck involved in the accident. No matter how safe a driver is, if he or she or she is driving a faulty truck, that truck becomes a road hazard. A break or suspension failure is all that is needed to cause massive damage on the road.
The truck manufacturer may also be sued if you can show that there were defects in the truck and the manufacturer was responsible for those defects.
Common Trucking Accident Injuries
Below is a list of common truck accident claims:
- Improperly loaded truck accident
- Commercial truck accident
- Semi-truck accident
- Speeding truck accident
- Negligent hiring of truck driver
Compensation is provided for economic losses and non-economic losses.
Economic losses include the following:
- past and future medical bills
- past and future lost wages
- damaged property
- past and future loss of earning capacity
Non-economic losses include the following:
- past and future emotional anguish
- loss of enjoyment of activities
Recall that Texas courts use what is called a modified comparative fault rule when it determines how much compensation a victim may seek. This rule states that if an injured victim was 51% or more at fault for an accident, then he or she cannot seek compensation.
However, if the victim is found to be 50% or less at fault for the accident, his or her compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault. For instance, if the jury awarded you $100,000 in compensation but also found that you were 50% at fault, then the actual amount of compensation you will seek may be $50,000.
GET HELP FROM AN EXPERIENCED TRUCK ACCIDENT LAWYER
If you or a loved one has been injured in an 18-wheeler accident, the truck injury attorneys at Zinda Law Group have the knowledge and resources to help you pursue maximum compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. Call us today at 888-309-6676 to receive a free legal consultation from one of our truck accident lawyers.
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