Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

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When a truck accident shatters the calm of an ordinary day, the question of liability often becomes as tangled as the wreckage on the road.

Understanding who is liable is not just a legal puzzle; it’s a critical step for victims seeking justice and compensation. Understanding liability is your first step toward justice and compensation.

Armed with this knowledge, you can better navigate the aftermath of a truck accident and seek the assistance you need.

When you’ve been involved in a truck accident in Wisconsin, contact an experienced truck accident lawyer and find out how we can help you today.

Understanding Truck Accident Liability

When a truck accident occurs, the immediate aftermath is often a chaotic blend of emotions, injuries, and damage.

Liability in truck accidents is far from straightforward. It often involves sifting through layers of responsibilities and actions leading up to the accident.

Central to determining liability is the concept of negligence. In legal terms, negligence means that someone failed to exercise the level of care that a reasonably prudent person would have under similar circumstances. Establishing negligence is key to identifying who is responsible for a truck accident.

To establish negligence, you must demonstrate four key elements:

  • Duty of Care. The party who caused the accident had a legal obligation to act with a certain level of care. For instance, truck drivers must follow traffic laws and drive safely.
  • Breach of Duty. The party failed to meet that standard of care. This could be a truck driver speeding or a trucking company not following proper maintenance protocols.
  • Causation. The breach of duty directly caused the accident and resulting harm. This means showing a direct link between the negligent act and the crash.
  • Damages. The victim suffered actual harm or losses due to the accident, such as medical expenses, property damage, or emotional distress.

Discovering Who is At-fault in a Truck Accident

Truck Drivers

View of a highway seen through a shattered windshield, the aftermath of an encounter with a truck carrying crushed stone.

At times, the truck driver’s actions are directly to blame. This could be due to reckless driving, driving under the influence, or fatigue from overextending their hours on the road. If the driver’s negligence caused the accident, they could be held liable.

Trucking Companies

Sometimes, the company behind the driver can be held responsible. This is known as vicarious liability. For example, if the company failed to maintain their vehicles properly or pushed drivers to exceed legal driving hours, you could hold them liable.

Truck and Trailer Manufacturers

Liability can extend to the manufacturers if the accident was caused by defective parts or design flaws in the truck or the trailer. Product liability claims can arise from failures in brakes, tires, or other critical components.

Cargo Loaders and Shippers

The way cargo is loaded can significantly reduce a truck’s stability and safety. Overloading or uneven loading can cause a truck to tip, lose control, or roll over. Businesses responsible for loading the truck must adhere to industry standards and regulations to ensure safety.

Maintenance Companies

Regular and proper maintenance is vital for truck safety. If an accident occurs due to a lack of maintenance or faulty repairs, the company responsible for maintaining the truck could be held liable.

Other Drivers on the Road

In multi-vehicle accidents, other drivers involved might share liability, especially if their actions contributed to the accident.

This could include driving under the influence, reckless driving, cutting off a truck, brake checking, or other unsafe maneuvers that lead to a collision.

Wisconsin’s Comparative Negligence Law

In Wisconsin, multiple parties can share liability due to Wisconsin’s comparative negligence law.

Under this law, each party is assigned a percentage of fault, and compensation is adjusted accordingly.

If one or more parties involved in your accident want to slough off some of the blame to you, consult a personal injury attorney with experience in Wisconsin truck crashes so you protect your rights after an accident.

Investigating Truck Accidents

The investigation phase of a truck accident is like assembling a complex puzzle. Each piece of evidence provides insight into the causes and contributing factors of the accident. Key elements of an investigation include:

Electronic Logging Device (ELD). Most commercial trucks come with an ELD, which records valuable data like driving hours, speed, and brake usage. Analyzing this data can reveal if driver fatigue or speeding played a role in the accident.

Driver’s Logs. These logs provide a record of the driver’s hours on the road, rest breaks, and compliance with regulations. Discrepancies in logs can indicate violations that might have contributed to the accident.

Maintenance Records. Reviewing a truck’s maintenance history can uncover neglect or overlooked issues that might have led to mechanical failures.

Eyewitness Accounts. Statements from witnesses provide first-hand perspectives on the accident. These accounts can corroborate other evidence or offer new insights.

Physical Evidence. Examining the accident scene, vehicle damage, and any available video footage helps reconstruct the events leading to the accident.

A thorough investigation can piece together the causes of the accident and establish a strong foundation for any legal claims.

Why a Personal Injury Attorney is Essential in a Truck Accident

When you’re in pain and out of work because of your injuries, living through a serious truck accident can be an uphill battle.

Given the complexity of determining liability and the multiple parties involved, having a skilled law firm is not just beneficial, it’s often necessary.

A study by the Insurance Research Council found that individuals who hired attorneys received, on average, 40 percent more settlement money than those who settled on their own. Published years ago, this study, titled Paying for Auto Injuries, still holds today.

Another study conducted by All-Industry Research Advisory Council (ARAC) found that legal representation was a significant factor in higher compensation for injury victims.

The report suggests that attorneys play a critical role in navigating the complexities of personal injury claims and negotiating with insurance companies.

Contact a Wisconsin Truck Accident Lawyer

William Pemberton, Madison Truck Accident Lawyer
William Pemberton, Truck Accident Lawyer

With complex legal issues, potential multiple parties involved, and the need for maximum compensation, the path forward can seem unclear.

This is where the Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm steps in to light the way.

Our team brings a wealth of knowledge and dedication to fight your semi or commercial vehicle case in Wisconsin.

We diligently work to untangle the web of liability, advocate for your rights, and strive for compensation that aligns with your losses and suffering.

Our approach is rooted in a deep commitment to our clients, ensuring that your voice is heard and your case receives the attention it deserves.

From conducting thorough investigations to negotiating with insurance companies, we handle the complexities of your case, allowing you to focus on healing and rebuilding.

Our truck crash attorneys stand as your steadfast allies, equipped to challenge any obstacles and seek justice on your behalf.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident in Wisconsin, don’t navigate this journey alone. Contact Pemberton Personal Injury Law Firm at (608) 448-6242.

Let’s discuss the specifics of your case, explore your legal options, and embark on the path to recovery and justice together.

Your story matters, and we are here to ensure it is heard. You can also contact a Wisconsin truck accident attorney online.

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