Determining fault in a truck accident can be difficult, especially if there were no witnesses or security cameras to document what happened. This difficulty becomes even more prominent when the accident involves a truck colliding with a pedestrian. Pedestrians account for about 15% of all deaths that occur in accidents involving large commercial trucks. When these accidents happen, we must consider more than just the trucker involved in the collision. We must also account for the third party involved in the matter: the trucking company that employs the driver. With all of these factors at play, who is at fault in these types of accidents?
Causes of Commercial Vehicle Accidents
Commercial vehicles are held to different standards of care than passenger vehicles because the people who drive them are employees of the people who own the vehicles. There are times when companies and their drivers fail to meet these standards, and that failure can lead to accidents. Here are some of the main reasons such accidents occur:
- Faulty machinery: Commercial trucks are legally required to be inspected and maintained by both the driver and mechanics commissioned by the companies that own the trucks. However, some companies fail to ensure their equipment is in working order, which can lead to malfunctions and accidents. If a large truck has a dead headlight or bad brakes, the driver may not see a pedestrian, or they may not be able to stop in time.
- Bad driving: Truck-pedestrian accidents sometimes happen due to poor driving on behalf of the employee. Commercial trucks are much larger and have more power than traditional passenger vehicles, which makes them harder to stop when traveling at high speeds. If a driver doesn’t yield, chooses to drive over the speed limit, or passes through a stop sign without stopping, they are actively placing pedestrians in danger.
- Long hours: People who drive commercial trucks are often subject to very long hours, and driving for so long can be physically and emotionally draining. Although there are regulations in place to prevent this from happening, some companies still put their drivers under a lot of pressure to hit deadlines or get where they need to be faster. Some drivers even resort to drugs to help them focus and/or stay awake, which impairs their ability to drive safely.
- Bad weather: Bad weather such as snow and ice can impact the way a commercial truck drives. Accordingly, the expectation is that truck drivers will be properly trained on best practices for driving safely in poor weather conditions, and in knowing when it is unsafe to operate the vehicle. If they decide to drive when the weather is bad, they are accepting the responsibility of doing so safely.
- The pedestrian: Pedestrians can also contribute to a truck-pedestrian accident. If a pedestrian ignores signs telling them when it is safe to enter a crosswalk or if they choose to jaywalk, they may be the cause of an accident. However, this does not necessarily mean they will be found at-fault for the accident.
Who Is at Fault?
Determining fault in truck-pedestrian accidents can be difficult because there are so many parties at play. In some cases, the driver alone is responsible for the accident; in others, multiple parties may have contributed to the collision.
When investigating a pedestrian-truck accident, our team will look into all of the following as possible at-fault parties:
- The truck driver: If the accident happened as a direct result of the driver’s negligence, or if the accident could have been avoided by any other reasonable person, the driver may be solely at fault.
- The company that owns the truck: If the company that owns the truck failed to perform proper maintenance on the vehicle or forced their driver to work longer hours than legally allowed, they may be at fault.
- Manufacturers of vehicle parts: If the accident took place because any of the parts used in the vehicle were faulty, the manufacturer may be at fault. Some examples of equipment that can be faulty include brakes, tires, axles, etc.
- Maintenance workers or mechanics: The people who perform maintenance on commercial vehicles are responsible for making sure the vehicle is working safely. If they fail to repair an issue with the vehicle or introduce any new issues that cause an accident, they may be at fault.
- The pedestrian: If the pedestrian made poor choices that resulted in the accident, even partially, they may be considered at fault. However, this does not mean they won’t be eligible for financial damages if any of the other parties are also at fault.
When a truck-pedestrian accident case is brought before a judge, it’s possible that the consequences will be divided among the various parties responsible for the collision.
How Can a Victim Seek Justice After a Pedestrian-Truck Accident?
When a pedestrian-truck accident happens, the victim will likely be emotionally and physically damaged. It may be difficult for them to consider seeking justice; however, having knowledge of the process and the benefits of taking legal action may help them feel empowered to do so. Here are some suggested steps for opening a claim after an accident involving a commercial vehicle:
- Victims should speak with their attorney, or someone should do so on their behalf if they are incapable. There is a lot of hustle and bustle that happens after these kinds of accidents, and defense lawyers may contact a victim on behalf of the company or driver that hit them. Securing your own legal representation will help you avoid signing any documents or making any statements that could prevent you from being awarded the full compensation to which you are entitled.
- Keep detailed records. Saving medical bills, police reports, witness reports, and other documents will be essential to proving your case in a court of law. This type of documentation serves as proof of the mental, physical, and financial anguish the victim has endured as a result of the accident.
- Gather information related to the accident. If possible, the victim should try taking photos of where the accident happened and should document any information posted on the truck. Commercial trucks are required to have their company name and, sometimes, a driver number located on them – information that can be very important when it comes time to make a claim.
- Contact your insurance provider. Anyone involved in an accident should speak with their insurance company as soon as possible. Insurance companies often have strict deadlines for reporting such incidents.
- Make a claim. Your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit to seek compensation for medical and rehabilitative costs, lost compensation, pain / suffering, and more.
What Compensation Can a Victim Seek After a Pedestrian-Truck Accident?
An accident involving a commercial vehicle and a pedestrian can result in a lot of financial, physical, and emotional turmoil. Victims may find themselves looking at significant medical debt and a long road of physical recovery in front of them. They can seek damages for a lot of what they went through, including:
- Medical Bills: Damages for medical bills are some of the most common sought in these types of cases. If a victim sustains significant injuries in an accident, they will likely have a lot of medical bills to pay, and they may be awarded damages to afford the cost of these medical expenses.
- Pain and Suffering: Any accident can lead to a significant amount of pain, both physical and emotional. Many victims suffer from post-traumatic stress long after their bodies heal, and they can seek damages for what they went through. These damages are likely to be proportionate to the severity of the accident and the resulting injuries.
- Lost Wages: A victim of a pedestrian-truck accident will most likely have to take some time away from work, which will inevitably lead to lost wages. Victims can seek damages for these wages.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you have been involved in an accident with a commercial truck and need legal advice, contact Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC today. With over 125 years of combined experience litigating personal injury cases, our firm works hard to fight for maximum compensation for our clients. We have valuable resources such as a national document repository and many connections with experts in various fields to help us fight for justice on your behalf. Contact us today for a free review at (843) 968-0886 or via our contact form.