In our last post on commercial vehicle accidents, we began discussing the issue involving sudden mechanical failures. Like other negligence cases, personal injury lawsuits involving equipment failures on commercial vehicles require a showing of negligence. The basic elements of a negligence case are: duty, breach, causation and harm, and providing adequate evidence to support each element can be a challenge.
Proving a breach of duty in a sudden equipment failure may be somewhat easier in cases where there is a presumption that the equipment failure is evidence that the defendant was negligent. As we’ve noted, federal and state regulations require commercial motor vehicle operators to maintain their vehicles in safe operating condition, and the occurrence of a mechanical failure may provide a rebuttable presumption of negligence in some jurisdictions. Where no such presumption exists, the plaintiff is required to demonstrate each element with direct or indirect evidence.
A key issue in mechanical cases is determining the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm. Just because an equipment failure occurs does not necessarily mean that it was due to negligence on the part of the commercial vehicle operator. Connecting the mechanical failure to negligence in maintaining the vehicle is not always as easy as one would assume.
In pursuing a personal injury case in which commercial vehicle mechanical failure is involved, plaintiffs should seek to work with an experienced attorney who understands the issues at play in such cases, how to overcome common challenges, and how to zealously advocate for an accident victim’s rights.
Though each case is different, our firm is committed to doing everything possible to give our clients the best opportunity to obtain compensation for their injuries.