Fully loaded large trucks weigh over 80,000 pounds. These massive vehicles usually cause catastrophic injuries. Burns are a good example. Only a small percentage of vehicle-on-vehicle collisions involve fires. But explosions are not at all uncommon in truck crash cases.
Diesel fuel burns at a different temperature than gasoline. So, it’s more prone to explosion and also more likely to cause very serious burns. These injuries usually involve either third or fourth-degree burns. Third-degree burns destroy all the victim’s skin. Fourth-degree burns destroy both the skin and the bone.
Accidents of this magnitude often involve complex legal and factual issues. So, it’s vitally important to have an experienced attorney on your side. Otherwise, taking on the insurance company is almost always a losing battle.
Evidence in Las Vegas Truck Crash Cases
Victim/plaintiffs always have the burden of proof in negligence cases. But the burden of proof (a preponderance of evidence, or more likely than not) is usually just the beginning. If the victim/plaintiff has substantial evidence, the jury is more likely to award significant damages.
Traditionally, this additional evidence comes from witness statements. Indeed, these statements are often quite powerful. Something compelling happens when a disinterested person takes the stand and simply tells the jury what s/he saw. But witnesses are also subject to cross-examination from insurance company lawyers.
There is also substantial electronic evidence available. Most trucks have Event Data Recorders. EDRs are a lot like the black box flight recorders in commercial jets. EDRs capture and record data like:
- Vehicle speed,
- Steering angle,
- Brake application, and
- Engine RPM.
These statistics are obviously quite important in truck crash cases. Moreover, an EDR’s record is usually more compelling than witness statements. For example, a witness may say that the truck driver was speeding, and that witness could be mistaken. But the EDR can conclusively prove that the truck was traveling 79.9 miles per hour.
Electronic Logging Devices are very important in drowsy driving cases, and all trucks have one of these devices. ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s power train. So, they provide conclusive evidence of HOS (hours of service) compliance. Before the ELD mandate took effect, drivers kept paper log books. These log books were easy to falsify.
Finally, some trucks have dashboard cameras. These cameras often provide vital evidence in distracted driving cases.
In all these situations, an attorney must act quickly to preserve this electronic evidence. Otherwise, the insurance company may “accidentally” destroy the vehicle. If that happens, all the physical evidence disappears. A personal injury attorney is then at a significant disadvantage.
Vicarious Liability in Nevada Truck Crash Cases
Due to the catastrophic injuries mentioned above, damage awards are often very high in truck accident cases. Sometimes, the individual tortfeasor (negligent driver) may not have enough insurance coverage to make good on all these losses.
Fortunately, the respondent superior rule usually applies in truck crash cases. According to this legal doctrine, employers are responsible for the negligent acts of their workers if:
- Employee: Most workers are “employees” for negligence purposes. The test is not whether the person receives a regular paycheck, but whether the employer controls that person. So under this definition, independent contractors, owner-operators, and even most unpaid volunteers are employees.
- Scope of Employment: Nevada law also defines this prong very broadly. Generally, anything that benefits the employer is within the scope of employment. That could include driving an empty truck back to the warehouse.
Nevada is a modified joint and several liability state. So, if there are multiple responsible parties, the judge usually apportions damages based on their percentage of fault.
Connect With an Aggressive Lawyer
Large truck crashes involve serious injuries and complex issues. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Las Vegas, contact Naqvi Injury Law. Home and hospital visits are available.