It’s no secret that we have been experiencing some unexpected weather across the globe. Winter weather is no exception. The problem for truck drivers is that low visibility and commercial trucks are a recipe for trouble. There are already the inherent concerns with an increased stopping distance, less control and the extra weight to contend with. A truck accident lawyer can help you navigate through your potential claim.
Man killed by snow plow in New York
Not all regions of the United States are as familiar with snow plows as New York may be, but we can all relate to the tragedy of a truck accident. A few months ago a man in New York was struck and killed by a snow plow clearing snow in front of the man’s residence. A storm had just dropped more than two feet of snow. Although the man was taken to the hospital after the accident, he died a short time later. There was no criminal conduct suspected by the police, but civil liability would still be an issue.
Understanding the difference between civil and criminal liability
A finding that there was no criminal conduct on the part of the truck driver means that there was no violation of any law at the time. That does not mean that the driver cannot be found civilly liable for the accident. Put another way, a finding of no criminal violations does not negate a negligence claim. The difference between civil and criminal liability is typically the knowledge or intent of the guilty party. Criminal liability requires a certain level of “guilty knowledge or intent” that a civil negligence claim would not.
Handling truck accidents can be more complicated
The way a truck accident lawyer handles a truck accident case is different than other cases from the very beginning. These types of cases are often more time-sensitive, requiring the evidence to be preserved more quickly than in a basic car accident case. Insurance coverage may be more complicated because of the involvement of trucking companies. Another major difference is the existence of state and federal regulations that govern commercial trucks, truck drivers, and trucking companies. One important regulation, which arises often in truck accident cases, is the restriction on hours of service for commercial truck drivers.
The importance of truck accident investigations
For a truck accident investigation to be thorough, evidence must be gathered regarding every aspect of the truck accident. This would include pictures of the accident scene and the damages to all vehicle involved. The vehicles should be inspected as well as photographed to determine if there were any defects or lack of maintenance which could have contributed to the accident.
The importance of witness interviews
A major component of every truck accident investigation is witness testimony. Witnesses can give their observations of the accident scene, how the accident occurred and any contact or communications with individuals immediately after the accident. It is best to obtain this testimony as soon after the accident as possible while the information is fresh. For this reason, one of the most important things to do immediately after a truck accident is obtaining the contract information for potential witnesses. Don’t forget police officers and other first responders.
Know the “statute of limitations” for you claim
Every legal claim has a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the deadline you have for filing your lawsuit in court. Once this time period ends, it is too late to file your lawsuit, and if you file it anyway, the court will dismiss it. The deadline or the length of time you have to file the suit depends on the type of claim and where the lawsuit has been filed. Each state has its own statute of limitations periods for various claims. Your truck accident lawyer will know which period applies to your claim.
Why do courts impose a statute of limitations?
The purpose of the statute of limitations period or deadline is practical. Essentially, the most useful evidence will often be destroyed or corrupted over time. Also, the scene of the accident is likely to be altered, memories fade and relevant records can be destroyed. For this reason, it is best to bring a lawsuit as soon as possible.
If you have questions regarding truck accidents or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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