Determining liability and fault in truck accidents can be a complex process due to the involvement of multiple parties and various laws that govern commercial vehicles. Understanding these intricacies is crucial for victims seeking compensation for damages. At Foster Wallace, LLC, our Kansas City-based personal injury lawyers offer insights into how liability and fault are established in truck accident cases.
Determining Fault and Liability
Fault in a truck accident is often established through evidence like police reports, eyewitness accounts, accident reconstructionists, and expert testimony. These pieces of evidence can help indicate who acted negligently or was at fault for causing a wreck.
Can Multiple Parties Be At Fault?
Yes, multiple parties can share fault in a truck accident. This may include the truck driver, trucking company, and even vehicle manufacturers. With the help of your attorney, identify all parties that could potentially be liable for your injuries and damages.
What Role Do Federal Regulations Play?
Commercial trucks play a critical role in the economy, transporting goods across the country. However, the large size and weight of these vehicles also make them potentially dangerous on the road. To mitigate this risk, the federal government, through agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), has set forth various regulations that govern the operation of commercial trucks and their drivers.
One such important set of regulations pertains to “hours-of-service” (HOS) limits. These rules aim to prevent driver fatigue, which is a significant factor in truck-related accidents. The regulations limit the number of consecutive hours a truck driver can operate a vehicle and stipulate rest and sleep periods between driving shifts. For instance, maximum of 11 hours of driving is allowed following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers cannot drive after 14 consecutive hours since coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty.
Drivers must take a 30-minute break if they have driven for eight consecutive hours. Drivers can't drive after 60/70 hours on duty in 7/8 consecutive days. When an accident involving a commercial truck occurs, one of the critical areas that investigators and legal professionals will scrutinize is whether the driver and the trucking company adhered to federal regulations, including HOS rules.
Violation of these rules can serve as evidence of negligence in legal proceedings. Negligence refers to the failure to take proper care in doing something, resulting in damage or injury to another. In the context of commercial trucking, if it is proven that a driver was operating a truck after exceeding the maximum hours of service, that evidence could be used to establish that the driver—and possibly the company they work for—acted negligently. In a court of law, evidence that HOS regulations were violated could have significant consequences. It could tilt the case in favor of the injured party, potentially leading to a judgment for damages or contributing to a settlement. Such evidence could also invite punitive damages if it is shown that the violation was particularly egregious or part of a pattern of reckless behavior.
Missouri-Specific Laws on Fault
What Is Comparative Fault? Missouri follows a “pure comparative fault” system, which means you can recover damages even if you are partially at fault. However, your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
What Are the Statute of Limitations?
In Missouri, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim, including those for truck accidents, is generally five years from the date of the accident.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
The sooner, the better. Immediate legal counsel can help ensure that crucial evidence is preserved quickly. Determining liability and fault in a truck accident involves a complex interplay of evidence, laws, and multiple involved parties. It can be an overwhelming process, but you don't have to navigate it alone. At the Kansas City-based law firm - Foster Wallace, LLC -we specialize in helping truck accident victims in Missouri and understand their rights and options for legal recourse. If you have been involved in a truck accident and need legal guidance, don't hesitate to contact Foster Wallace, LLC online or call us directly at 816.320.6810 to schedule your free consultation.
Why Choose Foster Wallace, LLC?
Our expertise in truck accident cases and deep understanding of both federal and Missouri state laws make us well-equipped to handle your case effectively. From initial consultations and evidence collection to negotiations and courtroom representation, we offer comprehensive legal services to truck accident victims.