Yes, an individual in Louisiana can file a civil lawsuit in federal or state court without an attorney. Civil actions filed without an attorney in federal courts are referred to as proceeding “Pro Se.” You can click on the link here to access helpful federal civil filing forms.
While the option to represent yourself may seem like a good idea, trucking accidents are very complex. Trucking companies and their insurance companies have experienced attorneys representing them.
These attorneys’ job is to save their clients money, and they use every legal trick to avoid paying accident victims for the damages suffered through their clients’ negligence.
Let’s look at some things you need to consider when going against a big rig company.
Theories of Liability
Employers are responsible for the negligent acts of their employees under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In Louisiana, vicarious liability is established in Civil Code article 2320 by the theory of respondeat superior.
Article 2320 states, “Masters and employers are answerable for the damage occasioned by their servants and overseers, in the exercise of the functions in which they are employed.” Truck drivers typically work for a company.
Companies often hire drivers and categorize them as independent contractors. Specific rules must be followed for a driver to be an independent contractor, regardless of how the company characterizes his employment status. Employment status is an issue that must be diligently examined.
Federal law restricts the hours a driver can drive a commercial truck per day. The government also has established rest intervals between trips. Drivers and their employers make more money when transporting goods than when resting.
To make more money, they often try to get around the resting mandates, and this often results in accidents. When a driver is on the road too long, he becomes fatigued, sleepy and inattentive.
All commercial drivers maintain a logbook, and you must examine this along with any tracking devices on the truck. You can obtain the information through discovery. It is also necessary to check the numbers and dates for accuracy.
You can often find discrepancies in logbooks when compared to the tracking information and maps. Companies are responsible for the proper training of their employees, and in monitoring their trips for any apparent violations
It is critical to know the driving history of the driver who caused the accident. If the driver has a history of accidents, DUI’s, or reckless driving violations, he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of a big truck.
Trucking companies are responsible for who they hire. Hiring a driver with a bad driving record is negligent, and they should be liable. Also, if the company relied on an outside source to screen drivers, they may be responsible.
Once a driver is hired, the employer must monitor his current driving record. A company is negligent if they allow their driver to continue driving if he has failed drug screens or alcohol screens, caused numerous accidents, or received traffic violations for reckless driving
Mechanical failure can cause accidents. In a case involving mechanical failure, the maintenance records must be examined. Federal law requires trucking companies to keep detailed maintenance logs. Failure to have proper maintenance records or failure to provide proper service is violations and a step in proving negligence.
All cargo must be properly secured for travel on the roadways. If the load shifted during transportation because it was not secured and was a factor in causing the accident, the company is negligent.
Parties that may be liable in a Trucking Accident
Truckers are responsible for their negligent acts, and the trucking companies are responsible for the negligence of their employees’ negligence and the safety of their trucks. But often, other parties bear some responsibility for the damages you have suffered.
A trucker has a responsibility to check his rig for proper loading and maintenance. If the accident was caused by something he should have noticed during an inspection, he could be found negligent.
If an accident occurred because of speeding, fatigue, alcohol, or distracted driving of the trucker, he is liable for his negligence.
The trucking company, also called a “carrier” is responsible for its drivers and trucks on the roads.
Trailer owner, Cargo shipper, and loader
In the trucking industry, it is common for carriers to work as contractors for other trucking and cargo companies. In these instances, there are multiple layers, and all have a responsibility to follow safety regulations and act prudently.
Violations of acceptable standards or regulations by the other trucking or cargo companies could result in liability for your damages. All their records need to be examined thoroughly. If a trucking company is pulling a trailer owned by another company, the trailer records need to review. Failure to properly maintain trailers often leads to accidents.
Big trucking companies hire vendors to perform work, such as running background checks on drivers. Your accident may be caused by a failure to perform a duty a vendor had the responsibility to conduct, and this would make them responsible for your damages. Third-party vendor’s involvement must be looked at to determine if they have liability for causing the accident.
Manufacturers make parts that fail, either by an unsafe design or in construction. If a manufacturer was negligent, then they are responsible for the damages you suffered and will be a party to the lawsuit. Faulty product design or manufacturing could be a product liability case.
Unsafe roadways cause many accidents in Louisiana. If the road was a contributing factor to the wreck, the local or state government might be held accountable.
The contractor hired by the government to work on a section of the road could also be found negligent. The contractor is negligent if his work was shoddy or didn’t comply with acceptable standards, and the substandard work contributed to causing the accident.
Involved in an Accident with a Semi-Truck? Call Sonja Bradley Today
Accidents involving trucking companies are difficult to pursue without an attorney. The Law Offices of Sonja Bradley has the experience and resources necessary to thoroughly investigate a truck accident and bring a claim against all parties responsible for your losses.
Before you agree to settle your claim with an insurance company or lawyers for a trucking company, schedule a meeting with our office, we will provide a review for no charge.