In February of 2017, a man was killed in an accident involving two tractor-trailers and a car on North Carolina 11 between Pink Hill and Deep Run. The accident happened just after 1:00 pm. Investigators determined that a tractor-trailer driver tried to enter the highway when he hit another tractor-trailer traveling north on 11. The trailer that was hit drove off the road and hit a passenger car that was stopped on a nearby road. The car spun out, and the trailer overturned onto it.
A 68-year-old man sitting as a passenger inside the car was killed while the car’s driver was injured and taken to a medical center. The drivers of the tractor-trailers were also taken to the hospital. The tractor-trailer driver who caused the accident was charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.
The criminal charges brought against a tractor-trailer driver who causes an accident are independent of any civil charges that may be brought by the accident victim or his family if he dies. There is a higher burden of proof for criminal cases. Guilt must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases, while liability must be established by a preponderance of the evidence in a civil suit. Liability in the civil suit is expressed through money, whereas guilt in a criminal case can subject the defendant to imprisonment, fines, or other penalties.
If you are injured in a tractor-trailer accident, you may be able to bring a civil lawsuit against a tractor-trailer driver who was responsible for your injuries. In most cases, you will need to establish negligence or negligence per se. This means, you’ll need to prove that it is more likely than not that the tractor-trailer driver breached his duty to use reasonable care while driving and the failure to abide by this duty caused your injuries.
This breach of the duty to use reasonable care can occur in many different ways. For example, it may include the truck driver texting while driving, driving while fatigued, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or prescription drugs, failure to yield right of way, or failure to observe traffic laws. When a truck driver fails to follow safety laws or regulations, it may be possible hold the truck driver accountable for any resulting injuries under a theory of negligence per se. Negligence per se applies when a defendant’s violation of a safety law or regulation causes injuries of the type that the safety law or regulation was designed to guard against.
In some cases, it may also be appropriate to hold the truck driver’s employer responsible. A truck driver’s employer may be indirectly liable under a theory of vicarious liability, but it can also be held directly liable for negligent hiring, retention or supervision.
For example, employers of interstate truck drivers are supposed to conduct a background check of prospective truck drivers to make sure they are competent to operate a heavy commercial truck. A background check can turn up red flags such as a DUI or being fired for failing to abide by FMCSA regulations. If a trucking employer fails to conduct a background check or looks the other way in the face of red flags, and the truck driver proves to be incompetent and causes someone injuries, the trucking company may be held directly responsible for negligent hiring.
If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a tractor-trailer accident, the experienced attorneys of Maurer Law may be able to help you recover compensation. Contact us at 919-229-8359 or via our online form.
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