Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Case in Phoenix, AZ
Determining fault in an Arizona truck accident case requires careful investigation. In a standard two-car crash, the responsibility typically falls on one or both drivers. But that’s not necessarily true in commercial vehicle collisions. Multiple parties could bear fault for a semi-truck accident. Identifying every liable party is critical to pursue maximum compensation for your injuries. But before you recover any money, you must first prove negligence.
Proving negligence means showing that someone else is legally responsible for your losses. Gathering evidence to build a persuasive case can be challenging without legal help. The Arizona truck accident attorneys at Swenson & Shelley can conduct an independent investigation into the crash and collect the proof you need for a solid personal injury claim.
Our respected Arizona law firm has a proven history of helping clients get their lives back on track after catastrophic truck crashes. Call or contact us today for a free case review.
Truck Driver Negligence
Operating a commercial motor vehicle requires a truck driver’s full attention, care, and skill. Truckers must receive specialized training and licensure before getting behind the wheel. They must also comply with strict regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and state laws. These rules establish that truck drivers are duty-bound to keep the public safe by obeying the law. A trucker who violates that duty may be found negligent if their carelessness causes an accident that injures someone else. If proven negligent, the driver and their employer may have a legal responsibility to compensate accident victims.
Examples of Negligence by Truck Drivers
Examples of truck driver negligence include:
- Running red lights or stop signs
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Driving while fatigued
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to use turn signals or check mirrors
- Failing to perform pre-trip inspections
- Failing to secure the cargo load to prevent it from shifting or spilling
- Driving dangerously in adverse weather conditions or poor visibility
- Operating a truck without sufficient training or experience
Does the Insurance Company Have the Final Say on Fault?
Although the insurance company investigates the truck accident and reviews evidence to reach a conclusion about who bears fault for the crash, it does not necessarily have the final say on liability. In settlement negotiations, you can present evidence and arguments to contest the insurance company’s assignment of fault. Depending on the strength of your case, the insurance company may choose to settle even if it initially concluded that its policyholder did not cause the truck accident.
However, if you cannot settle with the insurer, you can file a lawsuit against the trucking company or other liable party and take your case to trial. In that scenario, a jury or judge will make a legally binding determination of fault for the truck accident based on the evidence presented at trial.
What is Comparative Negligence in Arizona?
When it comes to determining fault for a truck accident, Arizona follows the comparative negligence rule. By law, an accident victim who shares fault for a truck crash can still recover compensation from other at-fault parties, even if they were 99 percent to blame. However, this rule also means that an accident victim partly responsible for the collision will have their compensation reduced in proportion to their share of fault.
For example, if a person incurs $100,000 in losses because of a truck accident and is found 25 percent at fault, their compensation may be reduced by $25,000. However, they may still pursue legal claims against other at-fault parties to recover the other $75,000 of their losses.
Arizona Truck Accident Liability
In addition to the truck driver, other parties who may be held liable for your truck accident injuries include:
- The truck owner
- The trucking company
- The cargo/freight company
- The truck/trailer manufacturer
- Auto part manufacturers
- Truck mechanics or auto shops
Proving Trucking Negligence
Proof of a truck driver’s or another party’s negligence in a truck accident case may require various kinds of evidence, such as:
- The truck driver’s hours-of-service logs – The driver’s logs will show how long they spent behind the wheel before the crash and whether they had been driving longer than permitted by federal regulations.
- The truck’s black box data and in-cab camera footage – Many trucks have event data recorders (EDRs) that record information about the truck’s speed, operating hours, and driver inputs. Trucks may also have cameras facing into the cab to document the driver’s behavior which could provide valuable visual evidence of fatigue or intoxication.
- The truck driver’s employment and driving records – These records may show whether a truck driver was qualified to operate their vehicle and whether the trucking company conducted appropriate background checks.
- The truck driver’s cell phone records – Cell tower logs, emails, text messages, or social media posts may prove whether distracted driving caused the accident.
- Toxicology test results – Truck drivers may undergo drug and alcohol testing to determine whether substance abuse played a role in the wreck.
- Cargo load manifests – Shipping documents will show whether improper cargo loading or securement contributed to the accident.
- Inspection and maintenance reports – Truck drivers must inspect their vehicles and cargo before driving. Trucking companies must also perform regular inspections and maintenance of their vehicles. A report can show whether there was a failure to inspect or make timely repairs to the truck.
Other evidence that can help prove negligence in a truck accident case includes:
- Medical records
- Police accident reports
- Surveillance/traffic camera footage
- Accident scene photos/videos
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert witness reports
The claims process begins once your attorney submits the evidence and related paperwork to the insurance company. Once you hire a truck accident lawyer, they can manage settlement negotiations and work toward the best possible results for you.
Need Help? Contact an Arizona Truck Accident Attorney
If you were hurt in a truck accident in Arizona, contact Swenson & Shelley to speak with an Arizona truck accident lawyer about your options for pursuing compensation. We offer free consultations with no obligation.