Understanding Gross Negligence in Truck Accident Cases

Truck accidents can leave victims suffering from serious and sometimes permanent injuries. In the worst-case scenario, a crash can result in one or more fatalities among innocent victims. The circumstances of every truck accident will be closely investigated by authorities. Federal laws and regulations promulgated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration require truckers to undergo alcohol and drug testing immediately after a serious or fatal crash. These measures are designed to uncover the truth as to why and how a crash took place and to encourage safe and responsible truck driving.

There are more than 500,000 crashes involving commercial trucks in the United States each year. The vast majority of these accidents are preventable through the use of ordinary care and caution. This means that one or more of the participants in the crash could have taken certain measures to keep the accident from occurring. In legal terms, when a truck driver or trucking company causes a crash, innocent victims may be entitled to compensation for their damages.

By their nature, some accidents are more serious than others. From a legal standpoint, it is important to differentiate between crashes caused by ordinary negligence versus those that occur because of extraordinary or gross negligence. Here, we will take a look at both types of negligence and explore how victims’ rights are different depending on the situation.

As always, if you or a loved one have been affected by a serious or fatal truck accident, our national truck crash attorneys at Burg Simpson are here to help you at any time.

What is Negligence?  Understanding Gross Negligence in Truck Accident Cases

As a legal term, the concept of negligence comes into play in almost every traffic accident case, including truck crashes. A negligence analysis requires applying the standard of a reasonable person to the actions of an individual involved in an injury crash. If a reasonable person would have not have acted how the individual acted under the circumstances, then the individual is considered negligent. Once negligence has been established, the negligent party, also known as the tortfeasor, can be held accountable for the resulting damages.

Some examples of negligence in a commercial truck accident case are:

  • Speeding and traveling too fast for road or weather conditions
  • Failing to yield or stop at stop lights and stop signs
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Drowsy driving
  • Operating a truck while distracted, such as texting while driving
  • Negligent or overdue maintenance leading to worn out parts such as tires and brakes

All of the above examples of negligence commonly occur in commercial truck crashes. Sadly, this negligence frequently leads to injuries for innocent victims.

Ordinary vs. Gross Negligence

Although commercial vehicle crashes are almost always a serious event, some accidents tend to be worse than others. When a truck driver causes a crash, all other things being equal, they are guilty of ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence allows victims to recover for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.

However, what about situations where there is more than just ordinary negligence? In this case, the law has developed a concept known as gross negligence. Gross negligence represents a greater degree than ordinary negligence and consists of actions that are very reckless in nature. These actions or behaviors are known or should be known to carry a great risk of death or serious bodily harm to other motorists.

In the context of a truck crash, gross negligence could occur if a truck driver gets behind the wheel while they are knowingly intoxicated. Another example might be a driver who chooses to operate their truck after receiving little sleep the night before, knowing that their ability to safely drive is impaired by drowsiness.

Gross negligence represents a callous indifference to the rights and safety of other motorists and places all other drivers and passengers at an unnecessary risk of harm.

Remedies for Gross Negligence

When gross negligence has been established by a victim, what is the remedy? In all cases of ordinary negligence, victims typically receive the same type of compensation. When gross negligence is present, injured victims may be entitled to receive what is known as punitive damages. While all other damages are designed to reimburse or compensate a victim for their injuries, the purpose of a punitive damages award is to punish the defendant for their dangerous or reckless conduct.

Punitive damage awards are not necessarily based on any losses suffered by the victim. Juries and judges have the discretion to award an appropriate amount of punitive damages under the facts of each case. Where gross negligence has occurred, victims should investigate the possibility of receiving punitive damages as part of their settlement or recovery.

Nationwide Truck Accident Lawyers

When you or a loved one have been hurt in a commercial truck accident, you should have a full and fair evaluation of your case. This evaluation should only take place under the guidance of a skilled and experienced nationwide truck accident lawyer. A full look at the case requires a determination of whether negligence occurred. If negligence did occur, it must be determined whether the negligence was ordinary or gross negligence. Victims should then decide how to pursue their claims based on guidance from legal counsel.

Here at Burg Simpson, our national truck accident lawyers are here for you following the accident and every step of the way thereafter. We know and understand the laws that apply to truck accidents. Our team will investigate every potential cause of the crash in order to provide the most effective representation. We offer free consultations for all potential and prospective clients. There is no obligation until we obtain a recovery on your behalf.

Let us help you and your family move forward following a sudden and unexpected tragedy. When you are in need of a tough and aggressive law firm, we are here to help. To schedule your time to speak with one of our attorneys, please reach out to us using our online intake form or give us a call at 866-695-1236.

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