The State of Alabama is no stranger to car and truck accidents. If you read any newspaper or watch the news, you will find a story every day about someone who suffers injuries or dies in a crash. Recently, in Alabama, a woman was killed when a tractor-trailer hit a car she was riding in as a passenger.
While the other passengers sustained injuries, this victim was apparently ejected from the back seat and died from blunt force trauma. The driver of the tractor-trailer was allegedly transporting goods for his employer at the time of the crash. The father of the victim filed a wrongful death suit against and the driver of the truck. The lawsuit sheds light on many of the issues central to tractor-trailer cases.
Who is to Blame in a Tractor-Trailer Crash?
Every driver on the road has a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner. When a driver fails to live up to this duty, or actively does something that violates this standard of care, it is considered an act of negligence. For example, it might be negligent for a driver to rear-end a car at a red light because they are texting and not looking at the road. It might be negligent for a town highway department to leave potholes unfilled or unmarked if they are unusually deep and dangerous to drivers. Still another negligent act can occur when a repair shop fails to ensure that the brakes are working properly on a vehicle.
The lawsuit in this particular Alabama tractor-trailer case claims that the driver was negligent in that he did not see the car in which the victim was riding. It also alleges that the driver did not stop at a traffic light. Proving negligence of any kind will require evidence. The victim’s family will need to gather information from the police report, medical professionals, statements from witnesses, and insurance records. An accident reconstruction expert may be useful to demonstrate how traffic patterns or road signals may have contributed to the accident. They will need to have someone inspect the tractor-trailer and examine the damage to the victim’s vehicle. Some detailed questions will need to be answered:
- Was the light red or yellow?
- Did the driver try to stop but the brakes failed?
- Was sun-glare a factor?
- Was it raining?
- Was either car speeding?
- Did the driver exhibit signs of drug or alcohol use?
Whether or not there was negligence may hinge on any or all of the answers.
The lawsuit also alleges that the driver’s employer acted negligently. Can an employer be found negligent for the acts of its employees? If the acts occur during the course of their employment, the answer is: sometimes.
The suit claims that the employer was negligent by hiring the driver in the first place. In other words, they never should have hired the driver because of some reason they knew or should have known. One way negligent hiring may occur is when a business fails to do a proper background check on an employee. For example, if a day care hires someone who is a convicted and registered child molester, it can be considered negligence. That day care may be held responsible for a crime committed by the employee.
In the situation of a tractor-trailer accident, an employer is likely to face a negligent hiring accusation if information related to driving ability was discoverable before extending a job offer. For example, whether the driver has a history of traffic violations or drunk driving convictions. A trucking company should probably do research into someone’s driving record and fulfillment of license requirements before hiring a driver.
The Alabama lawsuit also alleges that the employer was negligent for not properly monitoring the driver’s driving performance. Tractor-trailer drivers and their employers are required to keep logs and other detailed records of their job. If a driver is always early to a delivery, perhaps they are speeding? If a driver regularly gets lost, maybe they are not paying close enough attention to their surroundings? Have several complaints come in about aggressive driving? There are countless ways that an employer must review and assess employee performance. The victim will want to see all of the employer’s relevant records.
While this particular tractor-trailer accident focuses on negligence of the driver and employer. There are other parties who may be found liable for an accident like this one. There may be a maintenance company who failed to do a thorough inspection or a manufacturer that shipped defective tires.
Contact an Alabama Accident Attorney
Tractor-trailer accidents are complex and often involve devastating injuries and death. Regardless of the specifics of any particular case, they involve multiple parties and rely on expert resources. If you have lost someone in a tractor-trailer accident or suffered injuries yourself, speaking with an attorney may help you understand your legal right to compensation. The experienced Alabama attorneys at Farris, Riley &Pitt, are here to assist. With some information from you, we can help determine who may be responsible for your accident. If the need arises, we have the experts and resources to help navigate a complex claim against multiple entities. The attorneys at Farris, Riley &Pitt, will work tirelessly to see that you are fairly compensated for your injuries.