Understanding Fault in a Semi-Truck Accident
Semi-trucks go by many different names—tractor-trailer, 18-wheeler, big rig, etc.
Whatever the name, it is hard to miss these vehicles when out on the road.
Weighing up to 80,000 pounds, semi-trucks haul goods from one end of Wyoming to the other and across the entire nation.
These big rigs are some of the largest and most dangerous vehicles on the road. In a car accident with a semi-truck, it is possible to suffer devastating injuries.
If you were hit by a semi, you should meet with an experienced truck accident attorney to go over your case.
You might be able to make a claim for compensation, but you do not want to delay.
What Does Fault Mean in a Semi-Truck Accident?
You determine fault when you determine who is legally responsible for the accident.
Another legal term for fault is “negligence,” which means a motorist did not operate their motor vehicle with sufficient care.
When this lack of care causes an accident and injuries, the operator is at fault for the collision and can be sued.
Fault matters in Wyoming, because the person or entity at fault must pay compensation to those victims injured in the accident. If you are not at fault, then you can’t be sued.
Who Can Be at Fault in a Car Accident with a Semi-Truck?
If a car is hit by a semi-truck, then we need to analyze who is to blame. It isn’t always 100% true that the truck driver is to blame simply because the truck hit the car.
However, this is often the case. Typically, a semi-truck driver will make some mistake, such as:
- Driving whiledistracted
- Driving while fatigued
- Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Failing to yield
These accidents then cause a collision and injuries, so the driver is at fault.
In addition to the driver, other parties could be to blame for an accident, depending on the facts:
- Trucking company. Companies are automatically liable when their employees injure someone due to negligence. The trucking company could also have been negligent in its own right, such as by not properly doing a background check on its drivers.
- Shipper/loader. If unbalanced cargo leads to a crash, then the shipper or loader could be to blame.
- Mechanic. Inadequate repairs could cause a truck accident. For example, a mechanic might have repaired the brakes improperly.
- Manufacturer. If a defective part contributes to the accident, then the manufacturer could be responsible for the crash.
Truck accidents can happen so quickly that many victims will not know who is to blame, so reach out to an attorney to analyze fault.
How Does a Lawyer Determine Fault?
Your attorney will look for helpful evidence that can shed light on who is responsible for the accident.
At our firm, we leave no stone unturned because we know how critical it is to properly establish fault.
We have often relied on the following pieces of evidence:
- Maintenance records
- Travel logs
- Physical evidence from the scene
- Pictures of the vehicles after the accident
- Eyewitness testimony
- Our client’s own memory
- Medical records
Most trucks are also outfitted with electronic recording systems, so-called “black boxes,” which will record important information, such as how long the vehicle was in motion and when the driver applied the brakes.
An experienced attorney will understand how to obtain this information so that you preserve it for your case.
Can More than One Person Be at Fault?
Yes. Wyoming law also recognizes that an injured person could have contributed to their accident.
For example, a truck driver could have been speeding but the vehicle it hit could have pulled directly in front of the truck, making an accident unavoidable.
If you go to trial, a jury will need to apportion responsibility between the two parties.
Under WY Stat. §1-1-109, if you were more than 50% responsible, you can’t receive any compensation. If you were less responsible, then you can still receive money, but the amount will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Speak with a Wyoming Trucking Accident Lawyer Today
Platte River Injury Law has helped many accident victims receive compensation for a car accident with a semi-truck.
Our detailed approach allows us to build up a compelling case for who is at fault for the collision. Armed with this information, we can negotiate for a favorable settlement.
Don’t trust just any law firm to look out for your rights. To get started with your case, please contact us to schedule a free, confidential consultation.