If you were in an accident with a big rig, you are lucky to have made it out alive. Approximately 98% of all semi-truck accidents result in one or more deaths. But after you take a deep breath and count your blessings, there is still the matter of injuries to deal with. Trucking accidents are often the fault of the big rig driver, which means that they or their company are liable for all costs related to your injuries. However, proving this fault can be an uphill battle. That's why hiring a personal injury attorney who specializes in trucking accidents is absolutely, 100%, essential when you've been injured in a crash with a big rig.
In order to prove the fault of the driver and hopefully win you a settlement, your lawyer may pursue one or more of these avenues:
Proving the Driver Was Exhausted
It's no secret that driving while exhausted is unsafe. Yet, truck drivers climb behind the wheel all of the time when they're exhausted. Drivers must stick to their schedule and get packages delivered on time, and sometimes that means they don't take breaks as often as they should--or they climb behind the wheel even after a poor night's sleep.
Your lawyer may attempt to collect evidence to prove that the truck driver was tired and was therefore not alert enough to avoid colliding with you. This evidence could be in the form of driving logs, which may show that the driver skipped breaks. It's also possible that the company the driver worked for required them to drive for longer than is safe; in this case, you may actually file a suit against the trucking company rather than the driver themselves.
Proving the Driver Was Abusing Substances
You wouldn't climb behind the wheel of your car when drunk, but in fact, there are many truck drivers on the road who abuse alcohol and other substances when behind the wheel. This is even more dangerous in a big rig than in a personal vehicle. The long, lonely hours on the road contribute to many drivers' addiction and substance abuse issues.
If your lawyer can prove the driver was using a judgement-diminishing substance before the crash, you should have no trouble winning your case. The problem is, this proof needs to be collected very soon after the collision, usually in the form of a blood test. This is one reason why it's absolutely essential to contact a lawyer immediately after your crash rather than waiting a few days. The police may sometimes collect this evidence automatically, but this is not always the case.
Proving Equipment Failure or Lack of Safety
Say a mirror broke off, so the driver could not see your car before they crashed into you. Or maybe faulty brakes made it hard to stop. Equipment failure in a big rig is not just a fluke thing that's nobody's fault. These trucks are meant to be inspected thoroughly and carefully each time they are driven, and equipment failure often suggests that inspection was not done properly.
To pull up evidence of equipment failure, your lawyer may ask to see copies of the truck's maintenance logs. If it is found that the driver skipped certain maintenance or checkpoints, they could be held liable. If this issue is found throughout the trucking company, you may file a case against the trucking company rather than the individual driver.
It can take several years to settle a claim with a big rig driver or company, but if your lawyer, someone from a place like Bennett & Sharp PLLC, can successfully make one of the arguments above, you'll have a good chance at winning.