Determining Who’s at Fault for a Truck Accident
Whenever there are multiple parties to an accident, the chances increase that fault may be shared. Truck accidents are even more complicated, since fault may lie not only with the truck driver but also with individuals or businesses involved in putting the truck on the road. In California, all parties whose negligence or other misconduct contributed to a truck accident may be held at least partly responsible for the injury and property damage that results. It is vital to determine who these parties are and what role they played in causing the accident.
Any of the following parties can be implicated in causing a commercial truck accident and their responsibility can be determined in different ways:
- Truck drivers — Trucks accidents often result from careless or distracted driving that in turn can be caused by a driver’s fatigue. Federal safety regulations require commercial truck drivers to keep written logs that track hours of service, including total driving time, miles driven, total off time and vehicle inspections. These items can help prove a driver violated maximum driving time, did not take required rest breaks or failed to attend to proper inspections.
- Trucking companies — If a driver is employed by a trucking company, that company is vicariously liable for the driver’s wrongdoing. In addition, a company might be negligent in its own right. A company might hire unqualified drivers, fail to maintain safe equipment or set delivery schedules that push drivers to circumvent safe driving practices. Company records can be obtained as part of pretrial discovery to determine if any of this happened.
- Truck owners — Some trucking companies or drivers lease trucks instead of purchasing them. The truck’s owner has a duty to inspect and maintain the vehicle and could be liable if failure to do so leads to an accident. Vehicle maintenance logs are important evidence.
- Cargo loaders —Overloading a truck or improperly balancing or securing cargo can increase the danger of an accident. The shipping company or other party responsible for loading can be liable.
- Manufacturers and dealers — If a design or manufacturing defect in the truck or any of its components contributed to the accident, the party that made or sold the defective item can be held liable.
- Governmental authorities — If an accident was caused in part by a poorly maintained roadway, the injured party can take action against the city, county or state agency or department responsible for keeping the road in good condition.
The evidence gathered will be pivotal in supporting claims against any individual or entity that directly or indirectly contributed to the trucking accident. Evidence can include police reports, witness statements, traffic footage, site inspection and accident recreation analysis.
Patterson Law is experienced in winning compensation for truck accident victims. We primarily serve Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties, though we also work with clients from Los Angeles and San Francisco. Initial consultations are free. Call us at 888-479-4589 or contact us online.