When you have been injured in a truck accident, you and your truck accident attorney will take steps to establish that negligence lies with the truck driver, trucking company, or a government agency for failing to care for the roads.
However, understanding how negligence is established in a truck accident is rather complex, which means it is all the more important to have an experienced truck accident lawyer by your side.
What are the Responsibilities of a Truck Driver?
In order to be a certified commercial truck driver, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes certain requirements and responsibilities on truck drivers.
State Certified Drivers License (CDL) Requirements
In Washington, DC, the basic requirements for CDL drivers are:
- Have a valid non-commercial driver’s license (NCDL)
- Meet identity, residency, and good driving history eligibility qualifications
- Take the applicable CDL knowledge tests
- Get a CDL learner permit
- Pass the CDL road skills test
The basic requirements for a CDL license in Maryland include:
- Be at least 18 years old and over 21 to drive out of state
- Have a valid Maryland driver’s license
Virginia large truck driving requirements include:
- Be at least 18 to obtain an intrastate CDL and 21 for a standard CDL
- Pass a state-approved CDL driver education program and hold a commercial learner’s permit for at least 14 days
- Have a valid medical exam
- Hold a valid Virginia driver’s license
- To carry a Hazardous Materials Endorsement (HAZMAT), drivers must be fingerprinted for a background check
Federal CDL Requirements
Further, under federal law, truck drivers and trucking companies must follow 49 CFR Part 383 which explains:
- Employer responsibilities
- Disqualifications and penalties for drivers
- Testing and licensing procedures
- Knowledge and skills requirements
- Required training for transporting hazardous materials
Should the truck driver or trucking company not abide by these regulations, negligence will likely fall on them, awarding the victim damages for injury, property damage, etc.
What are the Common Causes of Negligent Truck Accidents?
Though every situation is unique, there are common causes of truck accidents that occur. Some of the most common forms of negligent truck accidents include:
- Drowsy driving – According to the National Safety Council, driving while drowsy is similar to the effects of driving while under the influence. The more tired a driver gets, their reaction times, awareness of hazards, and the ability to keep their eyes on the road becomes worse.
- Mechanical defects – In its Large Truck Crash Causation Study, the FMCSA had found that brake and tire problems were among the top contributing factors for large trucks involved in trucking accidents.
- Lack of maintenance on the semi-truck – Trucks see a lot more wear and tear than an average passenger vehicle. If the owner or trucking company fails to keep up the maintenance on the vehicle, it puts drivers’ lives at risk.
- Speeding – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 9,478 people had died in speeding accidents in 2019.
- Inexperienced drivers – It is the responsibility of the trucking company to make sure its drivers are properly trained. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. A Virginia Tech study found that inexperienced drivers had higher crash rates and were more likely to be involved in a crash.
- Driving under the influence – Every day, approximately 32 people in the U.S. die in a drunk driving case. Drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs is one of the top causes of truck accidents.
- Poor road conditions – Each year, thousands of trucking accidents are caused by poor road maintenance or bad weather conditions.
- Failure to assess hazards – Whether the truck driver is distracted, fatigued, or under the influence, their reaction times will be affected. This will result in the ability to react quickly to a hazard on the roadway.
While these are the common causes, the catalyst may differ, leading to the accident, and causing injury. This is why investigators will work diligently to determine all possible variables that contribute to the truck accident and prove negligence.
What are the Requirements for Establishing Negligence in a Truck Accident?
In order to establish truck driver negligence, you must be able to prove that the driver did not act in a reasonable manner and that caused injury to another as a result. Specifically, you will need to prove that:
- The driver had a duty to exercise ordinary diligence and reasonable care
- The driver breached that duty of care willfully or through omission. For example, the truck driver was texting on their phone when coming up to an intersection and did not notice the light had turned red.
- The breach of duty of care caused injury to another
- The injury resulted in loss of significant damages. Damages can include medical expenses, lost wages, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
While this may seem like a straight path, it’s often challenging to establish liability and negligence in a truck accident. However, working with experienced truck accident lawyers can help.
Washington, DC follows contributory negligence statutes meaning that if the victim is partially responsible for the accident in any way, they are not entitled to compensation. This is why it’s important to hire a trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible to determine who is at fault and what can be done to protect your rights.
How is Compensation Determined in Truck Accident Cases?
If you or a loved one were in a passenger vehicle and injured in a truck accident due to a truck driver or the trucking company’s negligence, you may qualify for compensation. However, don’t take on the insurance companies alone.
Damages you collect will depend on the facts of your truck accident negligence case, but may include:
- Medical costs
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Funeral and burial costs
Schedule A Free Consultation With A Top Truck Accident Attorney
At Regan Zambri Long, our Washington, DC personal injury lawyers have recovered millions of dollars in compensation for our clients. Our lawyers pride ourselves on our more than 100 years of experience backed by proven results in giving legal advice.
As our client, know that you have a law firm by your side working diligently to secure the maximum compensation you need to pay for injury-related expenses. We can prove the truck driver’s negligence and help you reach a fair settlement.
Whether you live in Washington, DC, Maryland, or Virginia, a respected truck accident attorney at Regan Zambri Long will fight for you. Learn how we can help you with your truck accident case in a free, no-obligation consultation.
Schedule your free legal consultation by calling (202) 960-4596 or by completing our online form to discuss your legal options.