There have been 12,082 accidents involving commercial vehicles in Missouri 2014, per the latest data offered by the State Highway Patrol. When you are involved in such an incident, proving liability may be significantly harder than in most 2-vehicle collisions because the notion of fault is often shared by more parties.
Depending on the circumstances of the accident, you may have a legal right to file a claim against the truck driver, the company that hired them, the car manufacturer, or even other parties involved that can share fault.
A St. Louis truck accident lawyer can help you understand and prove who is liable for your damages.
What Does the Law Say
The Missouri courts follow a pure comparative negligence principle when deciding how to award damages. As such, the courts consider each party found negligent liable to pay for a percentage of damages corresponding to a percentage of fault. For instance, if the courts decide the truck driver is 75% responsible for the damages, and the total amount is estimated at $10,000, the driver will pay $7,500 in damages.
But the notion of liability can be split between multiple defendants. In case of a trucking accident, the most common other party held liable is the company that employed the driver if it is found negligent. For example, a truck driver causes an accident because of exhaustion. Truck drivers must respect specific Hours of Service Regulations to avoid this scenario, but the driver did not. However, it is also found that the company either encouraged or incentivized the driver to do so, in which case the company is also liable.
The same principle can be applied for mechanics who did not thoroughly inspect the vehicle or other parties involved. However, to prove negligence you’ll have to argue the liable parties has knowledge of the issue that led to the damage (like the faulty vehicle, or disregarding hours of service rules), and failed, intentionally or otherwise to act, leading to the collision.
Proving Liability after a Commercial Truck Accident
Because of the complexities these cases often bring, it is advised to hire an experienced Accident Attorney to represent you and prove liability.
Through their experience, they can gather enough evidence to build an airtight case and win. What that evidence entails is very much influenced by the circumstances of your accident, but it can generally involve:
- Talking to witnesses;
- Reviewing surveillance;
- Evaluating driver hours of service log;
- Reviewing police reports;
- Talk to experts to recreate the event and understand what happened.