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Should I Call A Truck Accident Law Firm After An Accident in Salt Lake County, UT?

The laws governing auto accident cases are specific and sometimes complex for anyone without legal experience to understand. Given the severity of truck accidents and the complexity of liability in these cases, you typically need a truck accident law firm on your side to help you navigate the system and protect your rights. To ensure you get the compensation you deserve, you should contact a truck accident law firm to speak with an experienced attorney.

What Makes a Truck Accident So Dangerous?

The average commercial truck is around 72 feet long, 13.5 feet tall, nearly nine feet wide, and weighs as much as 80,000 pounds. Size alone makes it a potential danger to other drivers in small vehicles. However, most accidents involving a truck are the result of human error. Commercial truck drivers need extensive training, and trucks need consistent inspection and maintenance. When any parties responsible for maintaining safe conditions in the trucking industry fail to uphold their duty of care, severe accidents can occur.

Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?

What makes truck accidents much more complex than other auto accidents is the question of liability. Trucks and their drivers are an extension of the trucking company, making them the most common responsible parties in truck accidents. However, given the accident’s circumstances, other parties could be involved.

Truck Drivers

There are two types of commercial truck driver employment:

  1. Independent contractor. An independent driver typically owns their truck and contracts with the trucking company, giving them self-employed status and making them responsible for all maintenance and inspection of the vehicle to ensure they are safe on the road. 
  2. Direct company employee. Company drivers are employed directly by the trucking company and drive company-owned or leased trucks. As a result, their risk for liability is slightly lower than that of independent contractors.

The most obvious party to blame for a truck accident is the driver, and some actions immediately warrant liability. For example, if the driver violated a road law or company safety regulations, they would be responsible for damages should an accident occur. However, if they were on the road, performing duties within the scope of their job, the trucking company could be liable for damages.

Trucking Companies

Trucking companies must enact safety measures to ensure that trucks and drivers are safe on the road. For example:

  • They must perform routine inspections and maintenance of the vehicles to check for potential safety hazards.
  • They must provide training for all drivers.
  • They should vet their new hires for past road law violations or road safety concerns.
  • In accordance with federal law, they must require all drivers to keep an activity log to track their hours, ensuring they do not violate the allotted hours of service.

Proving the trucking company’s liability is sometimes more challenging than proving the driver’s negligence. However, a truck accident lawyer can find evidence in the nuances of your case. Sometimes that means other parties could be responsible as well.

Third-Party Maintenance

Many trucking companies use outside mechanics to handle the inspections and maintenance of their trucks. When this is the case, accidents caused by malfunctions you should catch during those processes will fall under the responsibility of the third-party mechanic. For example, if the brakes on the truck failed because of worn brake pads, you could argue the mechanic should have caught that issue during the inspection and maintenance.

Loading Party

Sometimes the accident’s cause is a loading issue. Commercial trucks have strict loading regulations to ensure they are safe on the road. For example, Utah has fundamental weight limitations for trucks based on the axle structure. The state also regulates how to load and secure cargo based on several factors, including vehicle size and trailer type. Suppose the cause of your accident was a truck tipping over on a turn when the cargo shifted in the trailer. In that case, you could hold the loading party responsible. Sometimes the truck driver or the trucking company is the loading party.

A Manufacturer

Product liability cases are among some of the most difficult personal injury cases to prove and require an attorney’s assistance. If the cause of your accident was a malfunctioning part of the truck, you might be able to sue the manufacturer of that part for damages. For example, if the truck crashed because a tire blew out, the source of the blowout is important. If it malfunctioned because of a design or manufacturing flaw, you could sue the company that created and distributed the tire.

Truck accident cases can become even more complex with multiple liable parties. For example, suppose the company overloaded the trailer, causing a poorly inflated tire to blow on the road. Would the at-fault party be the loading company for exceeding the weight limit or the party who conducted the inspection and missed the low tire? These are questions answered through investigation.

Are You Limited to Your No-Fault Insurance Policy?

Utah requires anyone with a vehicle to purchase personal injury protection insurance. Therefore, in the event of an auto accident, you would file a claim for damages through your policy, eliminating the issue of fault. However, PIP insurance limits the amount of compensation you can receive and does not cover property damage or non-economic losses.

Thankfully, victims of severe injuries and substantial losses can bypass this system and file a lawsuit, allowing them to request recovery of all damages, including pain and suffering and property replacement. The standard for severity is addressed in Utah’s serious injury threshold. To sue the at-fault party in your case, you must incur a minimum of $3,000 in medical debt due to your injuries. The types of injuries that meet this requirement include permanent disability or disfigurement, including amputation. Given the severity of most truck accidents, victims can often bypass the no-fault insurance laws.

What Can a Truck Accident Law Firm Do for Your Case?

If you suffered substantial physical, emotional, and financial losses due to a truck accident, a truck accident law firm could provide you with the legal representation and resources you need to access sufficient compensation. Some examples of the responsibilities of a truck accident lawyer include:

  • Taking care of the tedious paperwork required to file a lawsuit or prepare for trial
  • Negotiating with the insurance company about the value of your claim
  • Collecting the evidence needed to prove the other party’s negligence and responsibility for damages
  • Accessing the necessary experts to investigate your accident
  • Drafting questions and conducting depositions during the discovery phase of the lawsuit
  • Offering kind understanding while you navigate the healing process

At Fielding Law, our truck accident legal team commits to providing our clients with unmatched care and aggressive legal presentation. We know the difficulties you face following a devastating accident, and we aim to help alleviate some of those struggles. That is why we work on contingency, offering our services at no upfront charge. Our payment is contingent upon our ability to secure a settlement for you. If you have any questions about your case and how to pursue compensation, contact Fielding Law today by calling (877) 880-4090 or filling out our online evaluation form. We are here to offer you excellent legal advice and assurance that you will get your life back.