How To Handle It If Drivers Lie Regarding Their Responsibility For A Trucking Accident

 By: J. Hernandez
"Take responsibility." It is an expression that is frequently mentioned but not often lived up to. In motor vehicle accident lawsuits it is not at all uncommon to see a driver or other party deny, rather than take, blame for bringing about the accident. Any lawyer who handles motor vehicle accidents involving disastrous injuries, however, will at some point face a case in which the defendant simply lies about what happened in an effort to dodge legal responsibility.

When lawyers run into a situation in which they believe this to be the case they ought to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident. Sometimes this requires retaining the help of experts, such as an accident reconstruction expert or a toxicologist. In other cases, however, the best approach may be to let the facts of the case speak for themselves. Uncovering and studying every detail of the scene of the accident, interviewing everyone who saw the accident, and using good judgment might be all it takes to be able to disprove the version fabricated by the defendant. Look at the way the attorney helping the victim was able to position the following matter:

This matter involved the driver of a tractor-trailer who lost control of his vehicle. The truck ended up on the sidewalk by the side of the road where it struck a pedestrian. The driver nonetheless stated that the reason he lost control of his vehicle was because he had a coughing fit which resulted in his loss of consciousness. The truck involved in the accident was owned by the driver's employer. Moreover, the driver had been acting in the scope of his employment at the time the accident took place. These facts would make the employer liable if their employee, the driver, was liable. The driver and his employer therefore took the position that this was a medical emergency and that the driver was therefore not responsible and that hence the employer was also not liable. But that was not the end of the story. During discovery the law firm that helping the victim found out that the driver had a history of three prior claimed medical emergencies.

In response the employer produced a certificate indicating that a physician had cleared the driver to operate a tractor-trailer truck 16 days before the accident. By revealing the certificate the employer kept going in their effort to continue to make their argument that what happened was the outcome of a medical emergency and to refute any liability for the accident. The law firm investigated further into the issue and found that the doctor had prepared the certificate depending on false information given by the driver thus invalidating the certificate. In addition, the defendant never said anything about having lost consciousness to the policewhen intervied shortly after the accident and appeared lucid.

The female victim, only 58 years old, suffered multiple serious injuries. A ligament on the thumb of her dominant hand was ruptured. Her clavicle was fractured. Three of her ribs were fracture. She also suffered a skull fracture. They was therefore able to argue at trial that the claim by the driver that he succumed to a loss of consciousness was a ficticious story made up in order to to avoid liability. The law firm that handled the lawsuit took it to trial and succeeded in getting a verdict in the amount of $1.2 million.

Most defendants are honest and give an accurate account of the way the accident happened. Most even admit that they were responsible for the accident. Even those who are honest in their description of the accident, however, occasionally get the details of what happened wrong. And then there are the few that simply lie. As this case demonstrates there is no substitute for a thoroughly working up a case. It requires a certain amount of experience, common sense, resources, and skill to realize that something is not right with a defendant's story and to know how and where to look for the evidence that will rebut it. If the law firm representing the victim had accepted the story as told by the driver and the medical certificate released by the driver's employer they would not have uncovered the evidence that led to a $1.2 million jury award.
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