The incidents of deadly large truck and 18-wheeler crashes in Louisiana and across the country have been going up steadily over the past 20 years. Accidents that involve trucks are almost always more severe than other kinds of traffic accidents, and too often result in catastrophic injury or death.

For the families of those injured or killed, it is crucial to get immediate financial assistance to cover the medical expenses associated with traumatic brain, spinal cord, burn or amputation injuries. Unfortunately, insurance companies often delay of deny insurance claims, increasing the burden on loved ones to not only take care of the victim, but to make ends meet if there is loss of household income as a result of the accident.

In accidents involving commercial motor vehicles, a negligence claim may target more than just the driver. Third-party liability may also involve the trucking company, vehicle equipment manufacturers, or cargo loaders. These kinds of claims are quite complex and include investigative work to uncover the evidence implicating other parties.

For residents of Baton Rouge and surrounding areas, it is crucial to know what steps to take in the initial days following a catastrophic accident, and to resist an initial settlement offer.

When is the driver at fault?

Professional drivers receive special training that allow them to operate extremely large vehicles with an emphasis on safety while they are on the road. When accidents do occur, they can be the result of driver error, improper vehicle maintenance, faulty equipment, or improperly loaded cargo.

Driver error often occurs when the truck driver is fatigued, distracted, or impaired. Commercial drivers have to follow strict hours-of-service regulations limiting the amount of time spent on the road, how often they must take rest breaks and the time they must be off-duty. When drivers violate these regulations, they can end up becoming unsafe drivers,  as their judgement and ability to focus on the road or operate their vehicles become compromised.

Who else may share liability?

Any actions or negligence of the trucking company, such as pressuring the driver to make fewer stops to meet a deadline, not properly training the driver, not performing regular vehicle inspections, or allowing the truck on the road when it exceeded its weight limits, could become contributing factors in a truck accident.

The equipment and parts manufacturer may bear partial responsibility if there were brake or wheel bearing failures or malfunctions, and the cargo loaders may also be at fault if the trucker lost control of the vehicle due to improper weight distribution of the load.

Louisiana negligence laws address how a lawsuit can proceed

In Louisiana, the theory of comparative fault guides liability claims, with the court awarding compensation to the plaintiff in proportion to the percentage that that party may have contributed to their own injury. The injured party may also sue for non-economic loss such as pain and suffering, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment and loss of companionship.