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Proving negligence after a truck accident

Even though many truck accidents, especially those involving a collision with a smaller passenger vehicle, are severe and catastrophic, this does not necessarily mean that the other party involved in the accident who suffered damages as a result of the accident will be able to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit. There are many different potential causes for a truck accident beyond a negligent or unqualified truck driver. For this reason, if someone is injured during a truck accident and believes the other party to be at fault for the accident, he or she must prove the negligence of some party that has legal liability.

At the outset, proving legal negligence requires a showing of three things: the plaintiff must show that the defendant--the person whom they are trying to hold liable for the crash and damage--had a duty to the plaintiff to exercise a reasonable degree of care; that the defendant did not exercise that reasonable care; and that the failure to exercise that care caused the injury to the plaintiff.

Aside from, or in addition to, proving negligence, a plaintiff must determine who the potential parties are who could be held legally liable after the crash. For many victims of truck crashes, success in a personal injury lawsuit relies on accurately identifying all of the potentially liable parties and noting each one's role in the accident during the lawsuit. Obviously, the truck driver him- or herself is the first potential defendant because it is likely, or at least possible, that he or she was unqualified to be driving the truck or drove the truck negligently or recklessly.

There are many other parties that could be potentially liable after a crash, however. These potential defendants include the trucking company connected with the driver, other contractors, employers, or insurance companies. In order for the trucking or shipping company to be held liable, the plaintiff must establish an employment relationship between the company and the driver, which means that the company had some control over how and when the driver performed his or her duties and that the driver was acting in the scope of that employment when the accident occurred.

Source: FindLaw, "Truck Accident Overview," last accessed Jan. 25, 2015

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