What if I am Partly to Blame for the Trucking Accident?

March 1, 2024 | By Francis Firm Injury Attorneys
What if I am Partly to Blame for the Trucking Accident?

There are reasons why trucking companies and their insurers want to partially or fully blame you for an accident. Millions of dollars may be at stake, and they know the jury can hit them with a "nuclear verdict," potentially putting them out of business.

If the trucking companies can prove that you were partially at fault, they can often save themselves a substantial amount of money. Everything is about self-preservation, especially when the insurance companies and their trucking company policyholder know their driver did something seriously wrong.

What you and the truck driver did will be highly scrutinized before the insurance and trucking companies determine your case. Your actions will be up for discussion, so you must have an experienced truck accident attorney to tell your story and protect you from any unfair allegations.

Further, it helps to hire your truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to make sure that you are not vulnerable to pressure or misconduct at any point in time during your case. Your lawyer can also preserve key evidence, making sure the trucking company does not try to conceal or destroy it to avoid liability.

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Whether You Can Get Money When Partially to Blame Depends on the State

What if I am Partly to Blame for the Trucking Accident

Let’s say you were partially at fault for an accident. The truck driver might have been negligent and caused the accident, but you also did something slightly wrong as well that contributed to the circumstances. Never assume you cannot get money in this situation. Still get help from a truck accident attorney, as most people can still get a settlement check of some sort even if they contributed to their accident in some way.

Each state has specific rules about whether you can get money when you are partially to blame for a truck accident. The rules range from being favorable to drivers to being skewed towards the insurance company. Either way, rules of liability often incentivize insurance companies to point a finger at you for the trucking accident. They can avoid paying you altogether or try to reduce the amount they owe.

Remember that even a reduced settlement is better than no settlement at all. Your lawyer can tell you if you are eligible for a partial settlement due to your partial fault.

The Trucking and Insurance Companies Have a Motive to Blame You

The insurance companies’ financial interests dictate everything they do when facing a truck accident claim. Only one thing matters, and it is certainly not doing the right thing; insurance companies only care about money and their bottom line. The less that they pay you, the better off they are. They will do whatever is in their power to minimize their tab and will do it at your expense.

Sometimes, insurance companies blame you because they believe you did something wrong. Other times, they are just trying to see if you will accept the blame and walk away. This is all too common when victims do not have legal advice from a truck accident attorney.

How the Insurance Company May Blame You for the Accident

Here are some things that the insurance company may say that you have done to contribute to the accident:

  • Speeding
  • Being unable to avoid the accident in time because you were distracted
  • Making your accident injuries worse because you were not wearing a seatbelt
  • Stopping short in front of a truck that rear-ended you

You can expect the insurance company to try to find any reasons to say "yes, but" when you file a lawsuit. Yes, the truck driver swerved into your lane, but you should have been able to avoid a collision if you were paying attention. Since you were distracted, you were also to blame.

This scenario is all too common, and too many people fall for it and forgo compensation they deserve.

The Liability Determination Decides How Much You May Get

The way you drove before an accident will also be under the microscope. Your attorney will gather evidence beforehand to defend you against any wrongful and unfair allegations about your driving.

Your truck accident attorney's job is to maximize your financial compensation. Before they can even talk about the actual dollar value of a settlement, they will need to establish who was at fault for the accident. The liability determination becomes the baseline for how much you can get. If the truck driver was 100 percent to blame for the accident, you should receive money for 100 percent of your damages.

Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Case

Proving Negligence in a Truck Accident Case

Before fighting over dollars, you must show that the truck driver and the trucking company were negligent in your accident. If the truck driver did something wrong, their actions are the trucking company's responsibility under the legal principle of respondent superior.

There are four things that you need to prove to show that the trucking company owes you money:

  • The truck driver owed you the duty of care.
  • The truck driver breached the duty of care by doing something unreasonable under the circumstances (such as speeding or making an illegal lane change).
  • You suffered an injury.
  • Your injury would not have occurred had it not been for the truck driver's actions.

Your Actions Impact the Causation Element of the Negligence Test

The fourth element is known as proximate causation. The truck driver must have been the cause of your injuries for them to have the obligation to pay you. Insurance companies will be interested in breaking the chain of causation. If they can show that you were at fault for the accident, they will simultaneously prove that they were not the cause of your injuries, and you will bear the responsibility.

The Truck Driver May Only Bear Some of the Blame for Your Accident

In a truck accident case, it is not always an all-or-nothing proposition. Sometimes, it is apparent that the truck driver is 100 percent to blame for your injuries. For example, they may have rear-ended your car while traveling 80 miles per hour in a 55 MPH zone. Here, it is evident that the truck driver bears all the fault, and you did nothing wrong.

However, under different facts, the truck driver may only bear some blame for your accident. In the previous example, your injuries may have been made worse by the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt, and your body might have slammed against something in the car. Then, the truck driver will be responsible for the accident, but they will not be to blame for all your injuries. When the insurance companies determine liability for your accident, they may decide that the truck driver was 80 percent responsible for your injuries, and you bear 20 percent of the blame.

Your Compensation Depends on the Laws of the State Where the Accident Happened

Truck Accident Compensation

If you are partly at fault, how much compensation you may get depends on how much you are to blame. If you live in certain states, you may end up with nothing if you are even one percent to blame for the accident. The fact that you were even partially to blame bars the door to any financial recovery. While this result may seem patently unfair, it is the law in a handful of states in the country. These laws are a boon to the insurance company, and they try to take full advantage of the situation to save money at your expense.

If this rule seems harsh and unfair, it's because it is. This legal rule keeps many drivers from getting the compensation they otherwise deserve. Some states have adopted a rule to mitigate the harsh effects of the legal system, allowing you to recover, even if you were partially at fault.

These rules apply when:

  • The truck driver was the person who had the last clear chance to prevent the accident.
  • The other driver used reasonable means to prevent the accident.
  • The truck driver failed to use reasonable means to prevent the accident.

You Might Still Receive Something Even if You Were Partly to Blame

At the other end of the spectrum, some states allow you to recover money when you are not 100 percent to blame for the accident. Your financial recovery connects to the proportion of the blame that you bear. In these states, you can get some economic recovery, even if you were mostly to blame for the accident. On the surface, these laws favor injured drivers. Again, insurance companies will try to manipulate the situation to favor themselves.

Under this system, let's say that you suffered $1 million in damages in an accident. If you were 75 percent to blame for the accident, you will receive a settlement check for $250,000. While this amount of money is helpful, it is an amount that is far less than your injuries.

There May Be Some Limits on the Amount of Blame You Can Bear

Many states allow you to recover financial compensation so long as you were less than half to blame for the accident, and the percentage that you were at fault for the accident will reduce your compensation. This legal system allows the insurance companies to save money when they can find any reason to blame you for what happened. They are always looking for a way to take your share of the blame over 50 percent so they can avoid paying you entirely.

Your Truck Accident Lawyer May Need to Rebut Wrongful Allegations

In a truck accident case, your lawyer also becomes your defense attorney. They are first trying to prove that the truck driver was to blame for the crash. Within that construct, they also defend you from allegations that you did something wrong that may have contributed to your injuries.

Your lawyer will need to come up with evidence to disprove any allegations made against you. Theoretically, you need to prove that you were not partially to blame since it falls into the analysis of the proximate cause of the accident. Alternatively, your lawyer may need to argue why the insurance company is overstating the blame you may bear.

The Jury Is the One that Ultimately Decides Your Case

The insurance companies do not get the final say about how much blame you bear for the action. The only entity that can conclusively make that determination is a jury. If the insurance companies insist on blaming you and you cannot agree on a settlement amount, you can take your case to court. You may even begin with a lawsuit to avoid their games entirely. The jury will analyze the evidence that both you and the defendant present, and they will determine whether you bear any of the blame for the accident and if you deserve any money.

Do Not Wait to Hire a Lawyer for Your Truck Accident Case

You must hire an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after your accident. The insurance companies and their lawyers may be trying to set up the record where you have admitted fault for their accident. They may try to trick or trap you into giving a statement that they will use against you in the future. Once you have said it, you cannot take it back. When the insurance companies know that you do not have a lawyer, they feel like they can approach you at will. When you do have a lawyer, they will communicate with your lawyer instead of trying to push you around.

You Do Not Have to Pay Upfront to Hire a Truck Accident Attorney

Michael Francis, Dallas Truck Accident Attorney

You do not have to let fears of tight finances keep you from getting a lawyer as soon as you need one. The contingency law system means you can wait to pay your lawyer after hiring them, and your obligation to pay only arises when you win your case. Then, you and your attorney will split your truck accident settlement verdict. You do not have to pay your lawyer if you do not win your case; thus, getting Dallas personal injury lawyer to work on your case does not cost you a single cent.