Truck Accident Liability
After an auto accident, both parties typically exchange contact and insurance information. Fault is then determined based on the police report, the insurance company, and other factors.
However, when it comes to large truck accidents, determining liability is much more complex. Truck drivers can be held accountable for the accident, but the trucking company may also hold some degree of fault. If all of this is making your head spin, you are not alone. Truck accident liability is a complicated issue requiring an extensive investigation and the skill of an experienced truck accident lawyer.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
One of the first steps in pursuing a truck accident claim is identifying who caused or contributed to the crash. Unlike a typical car accident where the driver is usually the only one at fault, a commercial truck accident may involve several parties who share responsibility. Some of the potential at fault parties in truck accident cases include:
A truck driver may have caused the accident due to their negligence, such as speeding, distracted driving, fatigue, or drunk driving. Federal regulations require trucking companies to test their drivers for alcohol and drug use regularly, in addition to undergoing to background checks.
The trucking company or carrier is responsible for its trucks and drivers on the road. They must ensure that all vehicles are in good working condition, are properly maintained, and log books are properly updated. They may be found at fault if they failed to follow protocols, conduct background checks, or provide adequate training and supervision for their employees.
Cargo owner and loader
The cargo owner and loader may be liable if they overloaded the truck, improperly secured the cargo, or failed to follow safety standards for transporting hazardous materials. A shifting or falling cargo can cause a truck to lose control or jackknife, endangering other motorists, pedestrians or bicyclists on the road.
Sometimes, semi-truck drivers drive in teams. A co-driver is the second truck driver, and they can be either a trainee or a partner. They may take turns driving the truck in shifts, as truck drivers may only drive up to 12 hours per day in California. If a co-driver was doing something distracting and caused the accident, they may be held liable.
The truck manufacturer may be liable if they sold or distributed a defective truck or truck part that malfunctioned and caused or contributed to the accident. Examples include tire blowouts, brake failures, or steering problems.
Local and state governments are responsible for the design and maintenance of highways and roads. If a truck accident was caused by a roadway defect like broken pavement, then the government may be held accountable.
How Can I Prove Fault?
An experienced truck accident attorney can investigate the accident and gather evidence to prove who was at fault and how they caused your injuries. Some of the evidence that can help establish liability include:
- Police reports
- Accident scene photos and videos
- Witness statements
- Truck driver’s log books and records
- Truck’s black box data
- Truck maintenance records
- Cargo loading records
- Truck inspection reports
- Medical records
- Expert opinions
What if Multiple Parties Caused My Truck Accident?
In a trucking accident, there may be more than one party at fault. The truck driver and the trucking company, the trucking company and the manufacturer, and so on. You as the driver may even bear some responsibility. However, that doesn’t mean your claim is invalid. California is an at-fault state that follows comparative negligence law, which means that a truck accident victim can still recover damages even if he or she is partially at fault for the accident. However, you will not be able to receive the full compensation. Your damages will be reduced by how much you are to blame.
What Damages Can I Collect for a Truck Accident Injury?
If you can prove truck accident liability from the truck driver or trucking company, you may be able to collect damages for your losses. Damages are monetary compensation that aim to restore you to the position you were in before the accident. There are two main types of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are those that have a clear dollar value and can be easily calculated. They include:
- Medical expenses, including emergency room and hospital bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Property damage
Non-economic damages are those that do not have a fixed dollar value and are more subjective. They include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
The amount of compensation you are entitled to will depend on the severity of your injuries, the quality of the evidence, and the losses you have incurred.
How Can A Truck Accident Lawyer Help Me?
Without a truck accident lawyer, the insurance company may try to minimize your payout or deny your claim altogether. We believe truck accident victims should not have to pay for the accident when it was not their fault. We will fight tirelessly to obtain the compensation you deserve. Our Costa Mesa law firm will take care of the heavy lifting so you can focus on your recovery.
Truck accidents are unlike any other motor vehicle accidents. Our lawyers understand federal and California trucking laws inside and out. Contact Mesa Accident Lawyers for a free consultation at (949) 763-4280 or fill out this quick online form.