You do not always need expert witnesses to prove your truck accident case in Ohio, but they can play a significant role in some claims. Whether you settle your claim outside of court or take the trucking company to trial, it is necessary to have evidence in your case that shows negligence, liability, and the value of your damages. Expert witnesses can help with all three in some circumstances.
If you were hurt in an Ohio truck collision, you may have a viable claim for compensation against the truck driver and trucking company. An attorney can help you weigh your legal options, gather evidence, enlist the help of experts, and more.
Understanding the Role of Experts in Your Ohio Truck Accident Case
While having experts on your side is not necessary in every case, it can support your claim and allow you to prove additional damages. If you go to trial, the defense will likely have their own experts, and you will want someone whose expertise supports your side of the story.
In general, there are three ways that expert witnesses can help in a truck accident case:
Proving Why the Accident Occurred
Some of the most commonly called-on experts in car crashes are accident reconstruction experts. They use specialized techniques to recreate a collision, determining what happened and what the contributing factors were. Their work may support an insurance claim or help prove fault in civil court.
Industry experts may also work with injured parties in truck accident cases to help prove that a load was unsecured, a part was defective, or there were issues with truck maintenance.
Helping Document Liability
Truck accident cases are often complex because sometimes the driver is not the only liable party. Instead, their employer and others may also have vicarious liability. Proving who is responsible can be difficult, especially in cases when the driver may not have acted carelessly or recklessly. For example, the list of parties who may be responsible when a truck part fails and causes an accident could include:
- The truck’s owner (usually the trucking company)
- A maintenance company or mechanic
- The manufacturer of the truck
- The distributor or manufacturer of the part
Experts would have to determine why the part failed and who acted negligently to know who is potentially responsible.
Documenting Your Prognosis or Future Expenses
When a truck accident victim suffers severe injuries, they may require ongoing medical care or future treatment expenses beyond the scope of the insurance claim. While these expenses are recoverable, it can be difficult for a lay person to determine how much they are worth. An expert witness can help you understand and document:
- Your prognosis
- Your level of ongoing care and support
- Future medical costs
- Expenses related to your injuries, such as wheelchairs, hearing aids, or other medical supplies
Why Truck Accidents Are More Likely to Need an Expert
Truck accident cases might seem intimidating to a lay person because you usually file the claim or lawsuit against a large company. The trucker’s employer is vicariously liable for their negligence behind the wheel. So even if the driver runs a red light, the trucking company’s insurance, and the truck company must pay.
“Respondeat superior” – the doctrine that creates this vicarious liability – is the law in Ohio.
Truck accidents may create evidence not available in most crashes. An attorney may need to send a spoliation letter to the trucking company as soon as possible after the crash to preserve evidence such as:
- The trucker’s rest logs
- Data from the truck’s computer
- Any dashcam video
- The driver’s drug and alcohol test results
- Evidence of previous crashes or infractions
- The truck and trailer or documentation of damage
Having industry experts analyze this evidence can help determine what happened, who is at fault, and how the crash could have been prevented.
Attorneys Often Have a Team of Experts They Call on Often
Many law firms have experts who can help their clients with truck collision cases, including:
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Scene survey teams
- Medical doctors
- Industry professionals
Many attorneys have relationships with these experts and can call on them when needed to help with your case. Having someone who is knowledgeable and available is also important because of tight legal deadlines. You generally have only two years to file a lawsuit for personal injury (Ohio Revised Code Section 2305.10) or wrongful death (Ohio Revised Code Section 2125.02).
Speak with One of Our Attorneys Today
You can discuss your Ohio truck accident case for free today with the Fitch Law Firm LLC. We are a contingency fee firm and will not ask you to pay anything when you sign up for our services.
In addition to our Columbus office, we have offices in Dayton, Cincinnati, Marion, and Springfield. Call (614) 545-3930 now to learn more.