What if I Am Partly to Blame for the Trucking Accident?

AUTHOR: Anthony Bruning | March 25, 2024
What if I Am Partly to Blame for the Trucking Accident?

Fault is often one of the most disputed legal matters after a trucking accident. Given that a trucking accident may involve several unique factors that require consideration, determining who is to blame for the accident usually requires time and effort.

Some people in collisions with large trucks may think their own fault contributed to the accident. While it is perfectly normal to analyze the situation repeatedly and think that you did something wrong, you should not tell anyone other than your lawyer that you think you were partly to blame for the accident. Once you tell the insurance company or anyone else that your fault may have contributed to the crash, you can be left without compensation, or your payout may be significantly reduced.

Instead of discussing anything with insurers, consult a truck accident lawyer immediately. They can assess the situation and advise who should be liable - or at least partially liable - for your losses.

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Who Else Can Be to Blame for the Trucking Accident?

What if I Am Partly to Blame for the Trucking Accident

Each year, more than 150,000 people suffer injuries, and more than 5,000 die in accidents involving large trucks across the United States. Drivers of passenger vehicles are often the victims who bear most – if not all – of the burden of the crash, suffering the most severe injuries.

Despite this fact, truck drivers, trucking companies, and insurance companies may still attempt to accuse victims of being at fault (either partially or fully) for the accident when, in reality, the crash is the fault of another party. Let’s review the parties who can potentially be at fault for a trucking accident:

  • The truck driver. The truck driver is often scrutinized first in an accident investigation. For example, a truck driver may be responsible if the accident occurred due to distracted driving (e.g., using a cell phone), fatigue from overworking and not adhering to the federally mandated rest periods, or speeding. Statistically speaking, driver-related factors are officially recorded in nearly a third of all fatal trucking accidents in the United States.  
  • The trucking company. Trucking companies must hire qualified drivers, provide them with proper training, and ensure adherence to safety regulations. For example, a trucking company may be at fault for the accident if it encouraged or turned a blind eye to drivers violating hours of service to meet deadlines, and the driver’s fault became a factor in the crash. 
  • The truck owner. If the owner of the truck (who may be different from the trucking company) neglects regular maintenance, causing a failure that leads to an accident, such as brake failure, they can be held responsible.
  • The truck manufacturer. Truck manufacturers and vehicle parts manufacturers are accountable if the accident is related to defective parts or a design flaw that compromises the truck’s operational safety, like a defect that leads to sudden engine shutdowns on the highway.
  • Cargo loaders. Improperly loaded or secured cargo can shift during transit, causing the truck to become unstable on the road. If this shifting leads to the driver losing control and crashing, cargo loaders may be to blame for the crash. 
  • Maintenance companies. Maintenance companies or contractors are responsible for ensuring that the truck is in top working order. When negligent maintenance practices result in malfunctions involved in the accident, individuals or entities who conduct vehicle inspection and maintenance can be to blame. 
  • Government entities. Government agencies responsible for maintaining the road can be at fault if the cause of the accident is related to infrastructure issues or poor road conditions, such as large potholes or inadequately marked construction sites leading to hazardous driving conditions.
  • Other motorists. Another driver on the road can cause a trucking accident by reckless driving, such as cutting in front of a truck without leaving sufficient stopping distance, which causes the truck driver to change lanes unexpectedly and hit your car.

Each truck accident case is unique and requires a detailed analysis of all the evidence and circumstances. It is common for several parties to share the responsibility for one crash. 

What Evidence Do You Need to Prove the Other Party’s Fault?

What Evidence Do You Need to Prove the Other Party’s Fault

Proving the other party's fault in a trucking accident and disproving your own fault at the same time involves gathering various forms of evidence that establish negligence or wrongdoing. Below are key types of evidence that are essential in such cases:

  • Police reports. Obtaining a copy of the police report is one of the first steps after a trucking accident. Police reports often contain the officer’s observations and initial assessment of the accident, which may indicate who they believe was at fault. However, it is worth mentioning that these reports are not always free from error. 
  • Witness testimony. People who saw how the accident happened can provide an independent account of what happened. Their testimonies can be crucial in supporting your claim to prove the other party’s fault and challenge their allegations that you were to blame. 
  • Camera surveillance footage. If nearby surveillance cameras captured the accident (it is often the case in urban areas), this footage can provide critical visual evidence of the crash and the actions leading up to it.
  • Photos showing the vehicle damage, skid marks, and other details at the scene. Photographs taken immediately after the crash can show the aftermath of the incident, including vehicle positions, damage, road conditions, traffic signs, and skid marks, which might suggest the speed and movements of the vehicles involved.
  • The truck driver’s statements. Statements from the truck driver can sometimes reveal inconsistencies or admissions of fault. These can be statements made to you, witnesses, police, or their own company after the accident.
  • Trucking company records. Records maintained by the trucking company may indicate whether the company itself was negligent. This can include logs of driving hours, maintenance records, and any history of violations of the regulations imposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)
  • The truck’s black box data. Many commercial trucks in the U.S. are equipped with an event data recorder, commonly called a black box, which captures critical data such as speed, brake usage, and other information pertinent to the moments shortly before the collision.
  • Testimony from accident reconstruction experts. These professionals use the evidence gathered from various sources to recreate the circumstances of the accident. Their expert testimony can be very influential in proving fault by demonstrating how the accident occurred and who was responsible based on scientific analysis.

Each type of evidence aids in creating a comprehensive picture of the accident and in establishing negligence on the part of the truck driver or their employer. For this reason, you want the assistance of a lawyer to gather and preserve all available evidence in your case.

Why You Should Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer if You Think You Are Partly to Blame

Why You Should Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer if You Think You Are Partly to Blame

If you, for whatever reason, think that your own fault caused or contributed to the trucking accident, you may not think it makes much sense to seek legal counsel. “A lawyer cannot change how the accident happened, so why bother?” you may be thinking. However, in reality, there are numerous ways a truck accident lawyer can benefit you, even when you think you were partly to blame, including:

  • Investigate the accident to identify liable parties. An experienced lawyer will start an in-depth investigation of your accident immediately after you hire them. While you may think you are partly to blame for what happened, the root cause of truck accidents can be something else. It will be your lawyer’s job to reveal that root cause.  
  • Estimate the percentage of fault if you are partly to blame. Determining fault in a truck accident is not always straightforward. Lawyers skillfully apply state laws that affect the percentage of fault and understand how comparative fault impacts your ability to recover damages. Comparative fault laws differ between states. In Missouri, for example, a party can seek compensation for their damages even if they are mostly at fault under the pure comparative negligence theory. Still, their compensation will be lower in proportion to their degree of fault (Missouri Code § 537.765). 
  • Calculate your accident-related damages and losses. A lawyer will evaluate all the expenses, losses, and damages you have suffered due to the crash. With a lawyer, you can maximize the value of your claim and ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to, not a penny less. 
  • Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance companies often aim to minimize the amount they pay, especially if they believe a claimant shares fault in an accident. Your truck accident attorney’s goal will be to settle your claim for the maximum amount possible, protecting you from tactics that might undervalue your legitimate claim.
  • Ensure that you are treated fairly and with respect. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and fairness throughout the legal process. An attorney will ensure you are not taken advantage of and that all parties involved respect your rights.
  • Take your case to court if no reasonable settlement is possible. A lawyer well-versed in truck accident claims will know how to negotiate effectively and isn’t afraid to take your case to trial (and, more importantly, has what it takes to do it) if insurance companies won’t offer a reasonable settlement. By preparing meticulously for court, your lawyer can demonstrate the seriousness of your pursuit for fair compensation, which can often result in better settlement offers to avoid the unpredictability of a trial.

These are some ways a lawyer may support you in the aftermath of a trucking accident when you think you are partly to blame for the crash. Hiring the right truck accident attorney is always in your best interest.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Fault in Trucking Accidents

Understanding fault is crucial after a trucking accident, as determining fault can significantly affect the outcome of any claim or legal action. For this reason, victims of truck accidents who they may have contributed to the crash are likely to have many questions that need clear and immediate answers. These questions include:

Is it okay if I admit my fault?

No, admitting fault following an accident is never a good idea. Even if you believe you may be partially responsible, there can be factors you are unaware of that contributed to the incident. Admitting fault prematurely may affect your ability to recover compensation, which can rarely be changed later. That is why it is more reasonable to wait until your lawyer conducts an independent investigation before you can make any conclusions regarding the role of your own fault in the accident. 

What happens if I admit my fault?

An admission of fault can – and most certainly will – be used against you in legal proceedings or insurance claims, especially if you were involved in a trucking accident. This can lead to a reduction or denial of any compensation you might be entitled to, as the other party (the trucker and their employer) can argue that your own admission supports their claim. This can potentially leave you with no monetary compensation whatsoever.

Is it possible to change what the police report says about fault?

If you believe there are factual inaccuracies in the police report, you can request a correction. However, changing an officer’s opinion about fault in the report is generally more problematic. If you think the officer erroneously made you fully or partially to blame for the accident, you might want to discuss this matter with a lawyer who can review the report and advise on the next steps.

Does it still make sense to hire a truck accident lawyer if I think I was partly to blame?

Yes, absolutely. It does make sense to hire a lawyer, even if you believe you hold some responsibility for the accident. A lawyer can investigate the accident, gather evidence, and look for other factors that contribute to liability, which can reduce your comparative fault. Additionally, they can negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies or represent you in court if necessary.

Truck Accident Lawyer, Anthony Bruning
Anthony Bruning, Truck Accident Attorney in St. Louis

Consult a reputable personal injury law firm in St. Louis to evaluate the circumstances and provide guidance on who might bear responsibility, whether entirely or partially, for your damages in trucking accident.

Anthony Bruning


I am a St. Louis trial lawyer.

I help folks who can’t help themselves. That’s the way I was raised. My father was a WWII vet and then a carpenter and my mother raised 6 children and served as a School teacher. I learned at an early age that there is no substitute for hard work. I was born and raised in St. Louis. I enrolled at the University of Missouri, walked on the football team, and ultimately graduated in three years. I then attended and graduated from St. Louis University Law School in 1980. I have been a trial lawyer ever since with well over 100 jury verdicts.

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