The Elements of Negligence
To prove that another party’s negligence caused your personal injury, you must show that:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care, which every motorist on the road owes to other motorists.
- The defendant breached the duty of care by driving recklessly, disobeying traffic laws, or operating an improperly maintained vehicle.
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused you to be harmed or injured.
- You suffered damage as a direct result of the defendant’s breach of the duty of care.
If you can prove all of the above, you’re entitled to compensation from the insurance company of the at-fault party for your damages: medical bills, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering.
The Modified Comparative Negligence 51% Rule
The rule for reduction of damages according to a percentage of fault is applied to plaintiffs who are considered to be up to 50% at fault for the accidents that caused their injuries. If, however, you’re found to be 51% or more responsible for your wreck, your percentage of liability is greater than the defendant’s, and you will not collect any damages at all. Of course, most truck accident cases are settled before they get to a courtroom where a judge or jury would determine your percentage of fault and award you damages accordingly, but the defendant’s insurance company will have investigators and attorneys working to prove you were partially liable and will use your estimated percentage of fault as leverage to offer you a low settlement. In such a case, it’s very important to have an experienced truck accident attorney working to prove your portion of fault is 50% or less.
Multiple Defendants in a Truck Accident
Unlike a car accident in which you’re likely to file a claim against only one negligent driver, a truck accident can be the fault of more than one defendant. If you’re injured in a wreck with a commercial truck, you might have claims against the driver, the trucking company or leasing agency that owns the truck, a repair service that maintains the truck, the truck’s manufacturer, a replacement parts manufacturer, or even cargo loading personnel.
If any of these parties can be proven negligent in their duties related to the truck and its operation, they may bear partial responsibility for your damages. Establishing their respective percentages of fault, filing claims against their different insurance companies, demanding a fair settlement from each of them, negotiating for fair compensation, and filing lawsuits against multiple defendants, if necessary, are jobs best handled by an experienced truck accident lawyer while you focus on recovering from your injuries, which could be serious if you were driving a smaller vehicle that was hit by a large commercial truck.
The Role of Your Attorney
The insurers of the parties responsible for your accident will do all they can to assign you a high percentage of fault and offer you a quick, low settlement in order to save money for their shareholders. You should not accept any such offer without consulting a lawyer. Your attorney can work to prove the at-fault parties were primarily responsible for your damages by:
- Thoroughly investigating the accident to prove the liability of the defendants
- Calling in an accident reconstructionist if necessary
- Obtaining important data from the truck’s “black box” recorder before it’s erased by the trucking company
- Consulting with your doctors to establish your present and future medical needs and expenses, as well as your total lost income and diminished earning capacity, all of which are the responsibility of the liable parties.
- Presenting your medical evidence convincingly and calling in expert medical witnesses if necessary
- Interviewing any witnesses to the crash
- Obtaining video footage of the wreck from any nearby security or red-light cameras
- Negotiating with insurers
- Taking your case to trial and fighting for you in court if necessary.
Have You Been Injured In A Florence, South Carolina Area Truck Accident?
If you've been injured in a Florence truck accident you should speak with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Florence, South Carolina office directly at 843.488.7540 to schedule your consultation. We are also able to meet clients at our Charleston, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Mt. Pleasant, North Myrtle Beach or North Charleston office locations.