Determining liability in a truck accident is one of your primary concerns before the court can award you compensation. Several entities help prove liability in a truck accident, including police, insurance companies, eyewitnesses, accident reconstruction experts, and the court.
After proving liability in the truck accident, several parties may be held liable, including truck drivers, manufacturers, government agencies and contractors, and cargo companies. Truck accident cases are complex, so you require an attorney's services to examine the accident and help you navigate the legal process. Your attorney will seek an expert’s help to reconstruct the truck accident and assist you in determining whether your claim is valid.
Parties Which Help To Determine Fault In A Truck Accident
In California, several entities are essential in determining the at-fault party in a truck accident. They include:
- The insurance company.
- The court.
- The police.
- Accident reconstruction experts.
- You attorney.
How Police Help Determine Liability In a Truck Accident
After a truck accident, the police officers arrive at the scene and investigate the accident situation. The main aim of the investigation is to prepare a police report with details of the scene. The officers will interview the witnesses and the involved drivers to piece together accurate information of what occurred.
Sometimes, the report has statements about the liable party based on the judgment of the police. At the same time, several police reports don't include the at-fault party. Even when the police report has the responsible party, it doesn't mean the person will be legally responsible for the accident.
How Insurance Companies Help Determine Liability in a Truck Accident
Once you file a claim with the insurance company after a truck accident, the company assigns an adjuster. The adjuster deals with the investigations about the accident as well as settlement. Sometimes more than one adjusters may be assigned to investigate your claim. Like the police, the adjusters research the truck accident, examine the damages, the medical reports, interview witnesses, and verify the driver's insurance policies.
Sometimes the adjustor assigns a percentage of fault for each party involved in the accident. To determine the liability, the insurance company focuses on the negligence of the involved drivers. In California, negligence occurs if a driver fails to act with reasonable caution that another person would do under similar situations.
How Reconstruction Experts Help in Determining Liability In A Truck Accident
Accident reconstruction experts use the principles of science to determine liability in an accident. They utilize the principle of physics, mathematics, and engineering to investigate the accident. The experts form opinions about collision angles, velocity, and other factors that might have caused the accident from their opinions.
Hiring reconstruction officers has several benefits. First, they can measure and quantify aspects of the accident, like speed. Secondly, even if the truck accident had numerous eyewitnesses, the eyewitness testimony might be unreliable as they usually dissipate over time and may be influenced by various cognitive bases.
The work of reconstruction officers begins at the time of the accident or sometimes close to it. The accident scene may have critical evidence; thus, the sooner the expert examines the scene, the better. Remember, in a truck accident, evidence like tire marks, metal debris on roadway surfaces are essential pieces of the accident. Again, video and photographs surveillance of the truck accident may suffice. Therefore, you need to retain a qualified reconstruction expert to prove your case and assist in d establishing your defense.
How The Court Helps Prove Liability In a Truck Accident
Most truck accidents are handled outside the law court. However, if the case proceeds to the court, the jury or the judge determines the liability by examining the defendant's negligence. While deciding the case, the judge also examines the provided evidence and listens to arguments from the involved parties.
The jury or the judge determines the case depending on the available evidence showing the driver was negligent and should compensate for the damages resulting from the accident. The insurance companies and the police report don't control the ruling of the court. A traffic violation may persuade the judge to rule out that a party acted negligently and liable for the accident.
How To Prove Negligence In a Truck Accident
In California personal injury cases, you must prove negligence after filing an injury lawsuit or insurance claim. Before you can receive compensation for your injuries and damages, you must prove all the elements of negligence, including:
Duty Of Care
In California, the duty of care is a requirement to behave reasonably to avoid causing injuries or risking the lives of other road users. All drivers should ensure they have cared for pedestrians and motorists sharing the same road. Professional and trained truck drivers should operate their vehicles safely to ensure the safety of the road and avoid causing injuries/ accidents.
Also, other parties owe them a duty of care. For instance, the truck company should hire trained drivers and keep their trucks well maintained and serviced. Again, truck manufacturers should ensure they produce vehicles and spare parts meeting the required standards to ensure good performance and safety. The distributors are responsible for they contain the potential risk materials transported by the trucks. The government agencies responsible for roads should maintain and repair roads immediately in case of an accident.
Breaching The Duty of Care
Breaching the care itself is another element to prove negligence in a truck accident. The exercise involves investigating whether the party owning the duty followed it or if they behaved as a reasonable person would act under a similar situation. If one party doesn’t meet the requirements, then his/her actions are considered careless or negligent. Primarily, the court finds the defendant negligent when he/she creates a risk situation beyond the expected risk level.
Determining whether a driver breaches the law in a truck accident is complex. For example, all vehicles have the duty of care, like stopping at an intersection. But imagine the lights are red when a truck enters the intersection. Then it’s only the eyewitness who may prove the driver’s negligence of disobeying the traffic lights. To prove a breach of the law in other circumstances may be challenging. For instance, all drivers should not drive beyond the set limit. However, the driver may not comply with the law.
Another element of negligence is damage. The damages involve various kinds of pain and suffering suffered in the accident. The damages may be either financial, mental, or physical. Therefore, are you experiencing stress after the truck accident? Is your financial income small to cater to the increasing medical bills sustained from the accident? As a victim, you shouldn’t endure all the suffering and pain, but you need to take imperative legal action and receive compensation for your damages. To settle your claim, you should prove the damages you sustained because of another party’s negligence.
Negotiating the compensation amount after the truck accident is a critical aspect of the claim, and the process is not easy. Thus you will require to consult legal assistance from an experienced attorney. The attorney will help you gather sufficient evidence to prove the degree of your damages. Although the exercise is challenging, it’s essential for you and your family members. Again, the attorney will help you calculate the value of your damages and ensure no damage is omitted.
The Accident Causation
After proving the party responsible for breaching the duty of care, like disobeying traffic laws, you should be in a position to link the defendant’s negligence and your injuries. To receive compensation for your damages, you and your injury attorney should prove the truck accident resulted in your injuries. Proving the other party’s action resulted in your injuries may be a long legal process, and that’s why you need legal help from a competent attorney conversant with truck accidents. The truck accident lawyer will guide you in proving your injuries are directly related to the truck accident.
The Potential At-Fault Parties In California Truck Accidents
Establishing liability in the accident is often challenging compared with other auto accidents. The reason is because of the multiple parties apart from the truck driver who might be responsible for the truck accident. Determining the causes of the accident requires a deep investigation. In most cases, more parties are held accountable for the accident. If your injury lawyer determines the accident’s cause, it becomes easy to decide on the responsible party to sue your claim. In California, the following parties may be considered responsible for a truck accident:
The company is responsible for its drivers and trucks. The truck companies work under heavy regulations from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration(FMCSA), which sets numerous regulations for the company to follow regarding its trucks and drivers. For instance, before the truck company hires a driver, they must conduct thorough background checks. Also, the truck company must train its drivers to follow FMCSA’S alcohol and drug rules.
Sometimes the truck company tries to skip liability in the accident by distancing themselves from the truck drivers. For instance, the truck company may argue the driver is an independent contractor but not an employee. Likewise, the company may claim it leases its vehicle to a third vendor and thus not liable for the mechanical error caused by the collision.
The truck company may be held liable since they have numerous insurance and resources than the truck drivers making them more likely to sustain damages. Again, the court may hold the company responsible once proven they value profit more than safety. The situation may occur when the company hires unqualified drivers, fails to maintain the trucks, fails to carry out regular drug tests, or even pushes its drivers to meet impossible deadlines.
If the prosecution team proves the company was responsible for the accident, it will pay compensation for the damages. As a victim of the accident, you need to work closely with a California truck accident attorney to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
The Truck Driver
In California, it’s too often that truck accidents occur mainly due to driver negligence. The truck drivers should meet the required standards to become eligible and licensed to operate the trucks. The negligent behaviors of the truck driver which may cause an accident include recklessly driving, overspeeding, driving under the influence, driving while sleepy, distracted driving, among others. Many truck accidents occur when the truck driver violates the regulations by the FMCSA service hours.
The Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration(FMCSA) has strict prohibitions regarding substance abuse and alcohol, primarily for commercial vehicle drivers. Again, the law requires drivers to drive within limited hours. Under the law, the drivers should operate the trucks to not exceed eleven hours after resting for ten hours. Under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the law requires the driver to safely operate the vehicle during cargo loading. Then the drivers must follow the rules. However, most truck drivers violate the hours of service regulation.
The truck accident occurs due to the driver’s negligent behaviors like distracted driving; the driver becomes accountable for the accident. Proving the driver was negligent for his/her behaviors might be challenging since no one wants to admit fault. Thus hire a personal injury attorney to help recover your injuries. You may gather evidence from the eyewitnesses, the videos and pictures you collected at the scene, use police reports, among others. After proving the driver caused the truck accident resulting in your injuries, you will receive compensation.
The Truck Maintenance and Manufacturing Company
Defective parts and mechanical failures in a truck are some of the biggest causes of truck accidents in California. The circumstance might include brake failure, defective/broken lights, Steering issues, coupling systems, or a blowout or worn-out tires. It means the court may hold the manufacturers liable for the accident and compensation for the sustained damages. Manufacturing companies should ensure they produce safe products. When a truck manufacturer releases improperly manufactured trucks, then they become liable for the accidents.
Again, several truck components may occur due to poor or insufficient maintenance by the outsourced servicing and maintenance company. If the truck accident occurs due to the vehicle's defective parts, then the maintenance and manufacturing companies may be held liable to compensate the victim’s damages. The FMCSA requires truck companies to maintain their trucks. The maintenance company should ensure the truck's brakes meet the required standards. Also, the company should inspect the trucks after and before long distances.
Contractors and Government Agencies
Roadway hazards like a damaged pavement may cause truck accidents. If the accident results from road hazards, the state or local government becomes liable for paying the victim’s compensation. The government has a duty of maintaining safe roads and repairing them once damaged. The responsible government agency should regularly inspect roads to reduce the possible road accidents resulting from poor roads.
The government may hire a contractor to construct or repair a road. During the construction period, the contractor should place road signs indicating an ongoing construction. By doing so, the contractor minimizes the risks of accident involvement. The government’s contractor may be responsible for the accident when they had problems with their work or if the work area was inconvenient for trucks. It means the contractor will be responsible for compensating for the sustained damages in case of the accident.
Sometimes, the primary cause of the truck accident or the degree of the injuries might be because of the nature of the damages. For instance, a poorly secured or improperly fitted cargo may cause the vehicle to jackknife, turn over, or have problems when braking. Again, the unsecured cargo may fall from the truck while traveling and cause an accident to other road users. Thus the cargo company is held accountable for poorly loading the truck with more than it can handle. The cargo company must inspect the cargo to ensure it’s safe and properly fitted.
What Happens When Multiple Parties Are Held Liable For Truck Accidents?
Sometimes, the court may hold several parties responsible for an accident. If you sustained injuries resulting from multiple parties, it means you will recover compensation from various sources. When more than two vehicles are involved in the accident, multiple drivers could share the fault of the accident. Mostly, the driver who started the accident bears a huge percentage of fault.
The other drivers may be responsible for overspeeding, distracted driving, or any other form of negligence we discussed above. Crashes involving multiple drivers are complex to handle, and it's vital to work with a competent attorney. The driver’s insurance company may quickly offer the settlement. But, you should take much time to investigate the crash before you receive the settlement.
Find A Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
A truck accident may cause severe pain and trauma, majorly when you find the accident resulted from another party’s negligence. If the truck mechanic failed to fix something well or the truck had defective parts, an accident could occur. The accident could in return affect your entire life, financially and socially. As mentioned above, don’t accept any settlement for the sustained injuries or any other damages without consulting a skilled attorney. At Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm, we understand the financial, emotional, and physical stress a truck accident could cause. If you suffer injuries in a California truck accident, Call us today at 619-754-7667, and we will evaluate your case and start working on it immediately.