Commercial vehicles, especially ‘big-rig’ or ‘tractor-trailer’ trucks play a vital role in the economy of the Commonwealth and the country. The use of these vehicles to transport not only finished products, but also the raw materials and parts that are used in manufacturing keep the chain of production running smoothly. However, the importance of commercial trucks does not render them immune to the same rules all others who use the public roadways must follow. In fact, because of their capacity to do harm, a reasonable truck driver may be required to adhere to higher safety standards than an average driver.
‘Reasonableness’ is in important concept when it comes to dealing with truck accidents. When a crash occurs that was caused by a commercial vehicle, those injured in the accident may have legal claims for compensation. To prevail on these claims, however, the injured party will generally have to show that the crash wasn’t just bad luck. Usually, this is done by alleging negligence against someone else.
Negligence, as a legal concept, has several elements that need to be present in order to evidence that negligence was the cause of an accident. Proving these elements may lead to a finding that another person is liable for the damages caused in truck accident. Generally, the first thing that must be shown is that someone owed a legal duty to the injured person, and that the duty was ‘breached’ in some way. This breach of duty must have been what caused the accident, both directly and foreseeably. Finally, there must have been some cognizable injury or arm that arose out of the breach of the legal duty.
While the above may sound complicated, the complexity of Massachusetts negligence cases can vary quite a bit. A truck driver who was demonstrably drunk, for example, will usually be clearly breaching a legal duty. If this same driver ran a red light and broadsided the plaintiff’s vehicle, causing broken bones, the case may be relatively simple.
However, there are many other instances in which an injured person may have a claim against someone other than the driver, such as his or her employer or even the state that maintained the roads. In most instances, it may be wise for those injured in truck accidents to consider consulting an experienced injury attorney.