Your injuries in a trucking accident don’t automatically mean that the trucking company will agree to a settlement. Trucking companies often have legal defense teams that can mount several challenges to your truck accident claim. Below are some typical challenges you might face and a brief summary of how comparative negligence might play a role in your claim and damage recovery.
An insurance company or a lawyer might blame you partially or wholly for the accident and your injuries. The trucking company may blame the severity of your injuries on your negligence.
For instance, if you were not wearing a seat belt, that might come up in your claim. If you were on a motorcycle at the time of the accident, the company’s lawyers might bring up the fact that you were not helmeted at the time of the accident. They might argue that even though the truck driver caused the wreck, failure to use safety devices or take other precautions contributed to your injuries.
A lawyer might also cite your driving behavior in the seconds or minutes before the accident as causing or contributing to the accident. Lawyers might present any traffic violation they can dig up as evidence of your negligence. For instance, if you were driving at excessive speeds, the trucking company may claim you were partially at fault even if the truck driver ran a stop sign and struck your vehicle.
In fact, trucking companies might cite Texas’s comparative negligence doctrine to help companies reduce their liability for accident victim damages. Unfortunately, if a defense attorney can prove you were more than 50 percent responsible for the accident and your injuries, you may not even be able to recover any damages. In other words, the other defense team does not have to prove you were 100 percent at fault. Even if you were 51 percent at fault or more, you might lose your chance to recover damages.
But even if you were less than 51 percent liable – say 30 percent for example – the trucking company may still reduce its liability. This would reduce your settlement by 30 percent, allow them to pay a smaller amount than the full amount of your damages.
It’s, therefore, critical that your truck accident lawyer identify the challenges that the defense may present and adequately prepare for them. Seek guidance from an attorney who knows the tricks that insurers and trucking companies are most likely to use.