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Truck Accident Liability in California

Truck Accident Liability in California

The trucking industry is a growing sector, with the U.S. Census reporting that freight trucks deliver 10.4 trillion dollars in goods to consumers each year. Unfortunately, this demand has been met with a shortage of truckers on the road, leading trucking companies to hire less competent truck drivers and take other shortcuts. This lack of experience, skill, and overall negligence has caused an uptick in trucking-related accidents, causing both injuries and deaths.

So, who is liable for a California truck accident? There are several different parties that can be held at fault according to California law. Especially if you have a knowledgeable attorney to help you file suit.

The attorneys at Premier Truck Accident Lawyers have over 52 years of experience in handling personal injury cases. Speak with one of our knowledgeable truck accident attorneys today for your free case evaluation by calling 866-999-9085 for by filling out the form on our website.

At-Fault State Status 

In a no-fault state, each driver in an accident is responsible for covering their own damages and losses. They do this through their own insurance company. This is not the case for California. Because it is considered an at-fault-based system, California will deem one or more drivers responsible for a crash. This means they can be liable for two things:

  • Paying for the costs of associated injuries
  • Paying for property damage 

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, liability in California and your legal rights are something you probably have on your mind. In most cases where another party is at least partially at fault, you do have the option to sue – therefore knowing who to file suit against and what is involved in a case like this is important.

The Trucking Company

Almost three-quarters of automobile fatalities involve a large truck. Reckless drivers and the companies that sponsor them must be held responsible for both loss of life and the severe injuries that innocent victims suffer from during an accident. 

This could include things like head and spinal cord trauma, injuries to the neck and the back, and even internal bleeding. Victims may also suffer from injuries that seem minor at the time, such as whiplash injuries and fractures. These injuries may not appear to require immediate medical attention but often cause long-term problems that can be extremely costly.

Things that lead to a suit against the trucking company:

  • Drivers to working long hour shifts 
  • Use of defective equipment
  • Incomplete inspections
  • Allowed items to fall off the truck
  • Perpetuate poor vehicle conditions
  • Not training employees properly 

There are circumstances where both the company and the driver of the truck share a portion of fault for your accident. In these instances, the driver can be held responsible as well. 

It is important to recognize that an employer usually can’t be held responsible for something that is done intentionally by an employee. For example, if a truck driver is accused of intentionally crashing into a vehicle during a ‘road rage’ incident, this is not something for which the employer would be responsible. 

The Driver 

Truck driver liability can also fall on the driver. This is especially true when the truck driver is an independent contractor and doesn’t work for a particular agency or trucking company. Of course, knowing which party to sue usually always depends on the specific circumstances of the wreck. Therefore, getting an expert involved right away is crucial. 

There are several ways to prove that the trucker is, in fact, liable, but it requires a thorough investigation of facts. Usually, this involves hiring an expert witness to review the scene or even a recreation the accident. A legal expert that knows the ins and outs of truck accident liability in California can also determine if the driver violated federal regulations. For example:

  • Drivers must undergo a certified physical before driving commercially, and then every two years.
  • Truckers are only allowed 11 hours of driving time and 14 consecutive hours ‘on-duty’ within 24 hours.

If the driver is found negligent, he or she can be held responsible for lost wages, doctor’s bills, as well as pain and suffering.

Not sure who is liable for a truck accident you were involved in? Speak with an experienced attorney today at Premier Truck Accident Lawyers to clarify any questions you may have regarding your accident by calling 866-999-9085.

Manufacturers and Vendors

There are instances when it is appropriate to sue manufacturers that produced the truck or its parts. For example, California state courts have heard cases against tire manufacturers and vendors being accused of producing or selling faulty products. Of course, this is only in cases where the driver of the truck did not cause the accident, such as when a tire explodes or flies off and causes injury or death. You can also name the distributor or retailer depending on case circumstances. 

California Governmental Agencies

One final party that can be named in a liability suit is a governmental agency such as a state department responsible for transportation. This is especially true if an accident was caused by a road defect. 

Was there loose gravel or potholes in the road? Were stop signs missing or traffic lights not functioning? These are all things that play a role in truck accident liability in California. 

Truck Accident Q&A

What are some reasons a trucking company might be held liable for an accident?

Instances in which the company might be considered at fault include:
Encouraging drivers to violate federal hour restrictions
Not identifying or correcting safety violations
Allowing for overweight vehicles
Improper maintenance

What are some reasons a truck driver might be held liable for an accident?

Instances in which the driver might be considered at fault include:
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Distracted driving (i.e., texting while driving)
Speeding and/or improper lane changes
Failure to yield or not obeying traffic signs

What are some other causes of trucking accidents?

Other causes of trucking accidents besides driver/company negligence include truck or tractor-trailer part defects, unsafe roadways, and improper signage on the roadway.

Can I file a lawsuit even if the accident with the truck was my fault?

The short answer is yes. Under California’s “comparative fault” law, an injured party may receive damages. The amount is based on each party’s level of fault, which varies from case to case. 

Speak to a California Truck Accident Attorney

Premier Truck Accident Lawyers understand that truck-related accidents come with a heavy burden on all parties involved. When legal decisions must be made regarding liability, our litigators can provide legal representation that is unmatched. 

Drawing from over 52 years of experience, Premier Truck Accident Lawyers is ready to help you tackle the most complex cases and bring those responsible for your truck accident injuries to justice. Call 866-999-9085 or fill out the free case evaluation form to speak with an attorney today.

Let’s hold negligent truck drivers and employers accountable today.

The Peck Law Group

About the Author

For over 40 years Steven Peck's dedication to law has been unyielding. His approach to client representation and care is deeply respected by his colleagues and clients alike. Steven has extensive trial experience, with millions of dollars in damages recovered for clients in lawsuits throughout California.

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