How Trucking Companies Try to Shift Blame Onto a Mystery Vehicle:
Trucking companies often plead what we call the “phantom car” defense, where they blame the accident on some mystery car. They will do this to deflect liability, placing whatever liability they can on the individual or company they deem “responsible” for their trucker’s lack of focus.
Questions Answered on This Page
- What is a “phantom car” defense?
- Why would a trucking company want to place blame on another car?
- How can you prove there wasn’t another vehicle involved in a truck accident?
Examples of This Defense in Action
It should be clear that the strategy used by the trucking company’s lawyer is to disrupt and distort your attorney’s establishment of proof, fogging it up with doubt along the way. Oftentimes, there legitimately are other factors that the trucking company can claim contributed to the accident. For instance, imagine something was thrown off an overpass, crashing through the windshield of an 18-wheeler. When this happened, the truck driver made an abrupt lane change as a knee-jerk reaction, striking the car in the lane next to him. Well, under those circumstances, the trucking company lawyer would legitimately be able to claim that the misconduct of some mysterious third party played a role in the accident. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. The concept we’re discussing is one where the only two vehicles involved in the accident were the negligent truck driver and the victim, yet the truck driver invents out of whole cloth a phantom vehicle for the purpose of shifting blame off of himself.
Here’s another example of how this defense is used. Imagine an 18-wheeler swerves into your lane and sideswipes your vehicle. The trucking company might then argue that the reason the truck swerved was because another vehicle cut them off first. So, according to their story, it’s the fault of the phantom vehicle rather than the truck driver. The problem is, there’s no evidence of this other vehicle. It just seems like a convenient explanation for the accident.
What is the Trucking Company Trying to Do?
With so many of these defenses, we have to work hard to refute the trucking company’s claims. This defense is a little different because there is often no evidence of this mystery vehicle. Although this is a clever attempt at weakening the arguments made by an injured person, it’s built on faulty logic. What they are essentially saying is that some vehicle, which fled the scene, caused the accident, and we can’t prove that that’s not true. But, it cuts both ways. They can’t prove that it is true. So, even though trucking companies use this defense, it’s not the hardest defense for us to defeat. We might even be so bold as to say that when a trucking company has to rely on this kind of nonsensical defense, they’re telegraphing the fact that they know they don’t have any better arguments.
The other problem with this defense is that it’s based upon the premise that the truck driver is not still primarily at fault even if another vehicle swerved in front of them, or what have you. Think of it this way, let’s say a car really does cut a truck off. Does that mean that it’s acceptable for the truck driver to hurt someone else trying to avoid that car? Most jurors would probably say “no”. If anyone has to get hurt because there is nowhere for the truck to go, then surely the truck should strike the car that cut him off rather than an innocent person. Moreover, if traffic is so dense that there is no way that an 18-wheeler can take evasive maneuvers should someone cut him off, then he’s obligated to adjust his speed and driving habits to account for this. In other words, it’s the duty of the truck driver to not allow himself to be put in a position where another car’s abrupt lane change spells disaster. Notwithstanding dense traffic, an 18-wheeler should leave plenty of space between himself and other vehicles, again affording himself an opportunity to not have his path disrupted by another driver’s poor decision.How the trucking industry stacks the deck in their favor Read More >
Call Grossman Law Offices
Grossman Law Offices has seen all sorts of common, albeit flawed defenses, and blaming external vehicles is one of them. If 25 years of negotiating, trying, and winning personal injury claims have taught us anything, it’s how to counter the usual line of reasoning a defendant will articulate. Even against the best arguments, we’ve proven successful time and time again – something that our hundreds of victorious clients can attest to.
We hope that this answered all of your questions in case wherein a defendant is trying to shift liability to another motorist. If you have any other concerns that need to be addressed, or want to begin working towards your path to financial compensation, then call us at (855) 326-0000 for a free consultation. Grossman Law Offices is ever-ready to serve Texans, and get you back on your feet, so call today.
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