Because of the size and weight of commercial trucks, they get more momentum than passenger cars and motorcycles while traveling. It is hard to bring them to a stop quickly or when there is only a short distance. Sometimes truck drivers fail to provide a sufficient stopping distance, and as a result somebody is hurt. If you were hurt for this reason, it is important to retain a skillful Folsom truck accident lawyer who has experience with these cases, since most of the time the truck industry and its insurers will be providing a strong defense. At The Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, our principal formerly worked in the insurance industry and understands how adjusters think.
Crashes Caused by Inadequate Stopping Distance
A number of factors can affect stopping distance, including momentum, rain, hail, speeding, distractions, fatigue, alcohol, and mechanical failure. Trucks generally transport heavy loads, so it is harder to slow them down or bring them to a stop. Similarly, a truck driver who is speeding will need significantly more space to come to a complete stop without colliding with anyone. Truck drivers must also stay alert so that they can react quickly. Failing to abide by the hours of service rules, drinking alcohol, or taking a prescription drug can affect the ability to halt.
Failing to adjust one’s driving to account for the need to have more stopping distance is a common reason that truck accidents happen. If a driver does not take suitable steps to avoid an accident, or the driver’s actions cause an accident, the driver and their employer may be liable for damages that arise from the failure to leave enough room.
If you are injured due to a truck driver’s failure to leave sufficient stopping distance, you may be able to bring a lawsuit under a theory of negligence. To prove negligence, you must show each of the following elements by a preponderance of the evidence: the defendant’s duty toward you, a breach, causation, and actual damages.
Both truck drivers and their employers may be negligent. For example, a jury may find that a truck driver who failed to leave a sufficient stopping distance breached the duty to use reasonable care while operating a truck. For another example, a jury may find negligent a trucking company that failed to conduct background checks on drivers when a background check would have revealed that the driver at fault for the accident had multiple citations for tailgating and several accidents.
In some cases, a truck driver may be able to shift blame onto you under a theory of comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that the plaintiff was partially to blame, and therefore, their damages should be reduced by their percentage of fault. For example, if you did not bother to get your brake lights repaired, so a truck driver did not realize that you were slowing down, you may be partially to blame for the accident. In that case, the jury will determine the total damages, and it will also assign you a percentage of fault. Your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Damages that you can recover if you establish liability include compensation for both economic and noneconomic harms. Economic harms may include any and all tangible harms — harms that are documented. For example, economic losses after a serious truck accident may include lost income, doctor’s bills, surgical costs, medication, medical mileage, therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and replacement household services. Noneconomic harms can include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium.