Truck accidents cause some of the most catastrophic injuries and damage to property based on the magnitude of the impact associated with collisions. Moreover, accident victims are bound to deal with fatalities and other irreversible consequences after the incident. Therefore, the accident victim or the deceased’s survivors must establish the truck accident’s liable party.
However, the investigation and case filing process can become tasking for the involved parties, primarily if they act without an attorney’s help. Most of the challenges you may face during the preparation process are areas of expertise for a truck accident injury lawyer, meaning that he/she can ease the burden of determining liable parties and proceeding with the compensatory suit.
On top of finding an attorney, it is crucial to establish that he/she is conversant with your case and has experience handling similar matters. At the Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm, we provide professional legal services for all truck accident victims. Our team is available to provide personal injury services to clients throughout California for the best chances of receiving rightful compensation for the damages. Additionally, you will benefit from the personalized approach we include when providing our clients’ services, as we focus on putting your needs first.
Understanding How Liability Arises in Truck Accidents
Like other vehicles, trucks and their operators should function under the California Penal Code’s traffic regulations to promote a safe driving environment. Hence, any activities or choices that motorists make will play a significant role in causing truck collisions.
Similarly, other parties whose primary focus is on the manufacturing and maintaining trucks, roads, and other vital elements of the truck structure should conduct their duties with care. A failure to deliver standard products or make the right repairs may cause severe incidents involving truck collisions. Hence, each party should operate under the guiding principles of operation to uphold high standards of care.
Liable Parties in a Truck Accident Case
As an accident victim seeking compensation after a truck collision, you will have to determine the liable party in the case. Choosing the right parties to include as defendants in the civil suit is pivotal to the matter’s success, as you should prove the party's civil liability.
Therefore, you want to have the right party answerable to your claims so that your truck accident injury lawyer can establish all the necessary elements required in law.
In civil suits concerning personal injury compensation, most points of liability arise in the tort of negligence. When your lawyer files claims under the tort, he/she must determine that the liable party engaged in all four elements of negligence for the judge to award damages. Thus, your attorney will guide you through the four factors that must be present in a negligence claim. They are:
- Establishing a duty of care that law imposes on the liable party
- Determining that the liable party breached the responsibility to take care
- Demonstrating the causation between the breach of care and the accident outcome
- Proving the damages you suffered after the accident
It is necessary to have all four elements in mind even as you choose the appropriate liable party for your accident, as you will have to produce sufficient evidence to support your claims against them.
Truck accidents occur under varying circumstances, meaning that different cases include varying liable parties. Some of the possible parties include:
The Truck Driver
Naturally, most aggrieved accident victims choose to hold the truck driver responsible for the incident, as he/she is in direct control of the vehicle. As a result, you will have to prove that the driver engaged in gross negligence or direct violation of the law for an acceptable compensatory claim.
The truck driver should undergo thorough training before taking on a job position, meaning that he/she should be aware of traffic regulations and expectations when handling the truck.
For example, section 23152 of the California Vehicle Code prohibits motorists from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol because of the foreseeable risks of drunk driving. Hence, if the driver in question was drunk or high when the incident occurs, he/she will be answerable to the claims you present in court.
Also, reckless driving is a severe fault that endangers multiple motorists, especially on highways. Some of the irresponsible practices that truck drivers should avoid include speeding in restricted areas, ignoring traffic lights, and overlapping other vehicles.
Any truck accident that arises from a driver’s recklessness indicates a breach in the duty of care, meaning that the motorist should be answerable for the damages you suffered.
However, the element of vicarious liability may affect the course of action against a negligent driver. Under the doctrine, if a driver is the employee of a larger company or truck owner, liability may shift to the employer. Nevertheless, vicarious liability only applies if the truck driver acted within the employment scope when the accident occurred.
The test for employment scope involves establishing whether the driver was acting as the company or employers direct. For example, a driver will be within the employment scope if the incident occurred in a tracked route and within working hours. Conversely, if the truck driver took a detour or used the employer's truck to facilitate personal errands, vicarious liability may be ineffective.
Your interest in the matter may also change depending on whether the driver's liability is direct or will pass on liability to the employer. Here, you should consider factors like the driver's financial position to pay damages compared to the employer. Often, truck drivers found liable may not be capable of settling the high legal fees in damages independently.
Hence, your attorney will advise you accordingly to help impose vicarious liability for the driver's action to the 'respondeat superior,’ the driver's employer. This way, you are in a better position to receive full compensation for the accident.
The Truck Maintenance Team
Some truck accidents occur beyond the driver's control, especially if the problem is undetectable when the driver conducts a necessary inspection. Therefore, the case facts are essential in establishing whether problems arose from maintenance and poor logistics. If fault rests in the responsible parties, your injury lawyer can source different details to strengthen your case.
If the truck involved in the accident presented severe mechanical faults that inevitably caused the collision, you might choose to hold the maintenance team responsible for the harm.
For example, suppose the truck driver noticed a sudden problem in the brakes leading to slow reaction time. In that case, you may begin investigations on the maintenance team to determine why the faults were undetected before the accident.
Most maintenance teams are part of the truck company that rents or leases out the vehicles to customers. Hence, the truck company representative should be your primary consideration as a respondent, as he/she can explain the breaches that occurred during routine maintenance checks.
The Driver's Trainers
Before a truck driver becomes eligible to take on permanent employment, he/she must undergo thorough training to satisfy the expected professional requirements. The training should include theoretical and practical skills passed down to the aspiring truck driver for use as a guide in real-life situations.
Since trucks are large vehicles that can quickly wreak havoc on the roads, the trainers responsible for testing and approving drivers should use an inclusive and practical approach to ensure that the trainees understand how to handle different types of complexities.
When a truck accident involves a newly trained truck driver who received certification to work, he/she can place fault on the trainers for failing to teach specific matters. Your injury lawyer can also follow up on the driver's actions with the trainers in question to establish whether they should carry liability for your case.
Some of the factors that impose direct liability on trainers accept bribes from truck companies to approve trainee drivers before equipping them with necessary skills. If the training company does not verify a truck driver's proficiency before issuing the certification, you can hold them partially liable for the truck accident that ensued. The additional liability will fall on other parties like the truck company and driver.
The Local Road Maintenance Authority
Truck accidents also arise in circumstances where the truck driver loses control because of unmaintained roads. For example, if a truck moves on a sloped road without road signs to warn of sharp bends or a narrow road ahead, the driver may face unexpected circumstances and lose control.
If you walk or drive close to the truck as it veers off the road, you will likely experience a high-impact collision leading to severe injuries.
Other times, the road in use may have deep potholes from inadequate maintenance checks and substandard craft. Hence, the truck driver may steer off the designated lane to avoid the potholes, leading to exposure to a risky accident.
Adverse cases also include roll-over incidents, whereby the truck driver loses control of the vehicle in sharp descending slopes. Consequently, the potholes may rock the truck off the road and cause the toll over the accident, especially if they were moving at a relatively high speed.
When presenting evidence to place liability on the road maintenance authority, your lawyer should consider disproving any probabilities of fault from your actions on the road. If he/she does this successfully, the liability falls primarily on the maintenance authority and the truck driver, if necessary.
The Truck Loaders
Most tracks in transit are useful in transporting bulky goods from one location to another. As a result, the truck loaders play a significant role in ensuring that the bulky goods are in safe positions inside the truck. Moreover, the leaders must check that the property is held by strong fasteners where possible to prevent slide backs in ascending slopes.
Additionally, the truck loaders should secure the truck doors before signaling the driver off to prevent incidents where loads slide off the trick and fall onto the road. The ideal system includes having a checklist that consists of all procedures before a truck driver begins the transit journey.
However, most loading and unloading of items occurs in a rushed manner to maximize customer satisfaction. Consequently, truck accidents resulting from open back doors and dropped goods are common and may cause severe injuries for you or your loved ones.
For example, when you drive behind a loaded truck on a steep road, the back door may open up, causing the loaded goods to drop onto your windscreen. Any sudden application of brakes or attempts to steer off the goods may also cause subsequent accidents that involve multiple third parties.
Your injury lawyer should provide sufficient evidence to show that the loading of items in the truck was negligent, exposing you to the severe incident. When the judge accepts the proof and establishes fault, you can receive compensation for the harm you suffered.
Manufacturers of Trucks and Spare Parts
Some mechanical faults also arise from a manufacturer's negligence when designing and assembling the truck. Hence, the truck driver becomes susceptible to unforeseen problems that cause accidents in adverse situations.
A manufacturer should uphold high standards when launching a product, with the consumer in mind. For example, since a truck is a heavy-duty vehicle, the mechanical parts should be durable to provide service for a long time. Therefore, a truck manufacturer should use standard features that do not cause recurrent problems that are sometimes uncontrollable for the driver.
Some spare part dealers also sell counterfeit products that are not easily detectable in the market. Because of the low quality of the fake spare parts, the truck will have low efficiency, causing sudden driver problems. If he/she cannot stabilize the truck, you could become the victim of a horrible truck accident.
When bringing forth a claim against truck manufacturers or spare part dealers, it is crucial to obtain evidence showing that the parts come from the defendants. Sometimes, the manufacturing company may attempt to evade liability by questioning the authenticity of the problematic truck parts that resulted in the accident.
Passengers in the Truck
As mentioned, distractions are common causes of truck accidents, primarily because the driver's attention-deficit jeopardizes his/her ability to react accordingly. If the truck accident resulted from a truck passenger’s distractions, you might place liability on the person, depending on the case’s circumstances.
Most truck companies prohibit their drivers from running transit tasks with unauthorized passengers in the truck to prevent distractions. Hence, if the liable passenger was not supposed to be in the vehicle during official working hours, you can file a claim against the driver and the passenger for violating company regulations that caused the incident.
Alternatively, if the driver had the liberty to carry passengers, he/she should disclose whether there were express instructions for the passenger not to cause distractions while on the road. If blame falls entirely on the third party, your claim will have standing in court.
Proving that the passenger caused inevitable distractions may not be easy, primarily because you would have to source some evidence from the driver or truck company. Nevertheless, your attorney can engage the parties in a negotiation to persuade the truck company to provide the necessary sources.
Once you obtain the relevant sources of proof, your case begins to take shape. For example, if the truck had a voice surveillance system, you may use the audio to demonstrate the specific actions that the passenger used to distract the driver. This way, you can either elect to hold the driver partially liable or impose full liability on the distracting passenger.
Other sources of evidence include surveillance footage from highway cameras that show the passenger engaging in distracting activities like showing the driver details on the phone or asking the driver for hands-on help while he/she should be driving.
Other Motorists on the Road
Lastly, a truck accident may occur because of other drivers’ faults that cause ripple effects, resulting in truck accidents. For example, if you got involved in a truck collision because the truck driver was trying to avoid a third party motorist who ran a red light, the fault should fall on the driver in violation.
The multiple car crashes arising from careless drivers may cause severe outcomes for you and the truck driver, despite the third party escaping injury. In this case, you are still entitled to compensation, as you are a primary victim of reckless driving.
Evidence to Present Against the Possible Liable Parties
When truck accidents occur, your truck accident injury lawyer conducts investigations and research on your case’s circumstances to trace the cause of the truck accident.
Some of the pointers that offer information on the possible liable parties include:
Information on the Nature of the Accident
Your lawyer can establish the cause of a truck accident and determine the liable party in question. To do this, the attorney will need a professional accident assessor who can determine the nature of the collision and the direct cause of problems moments before the accident occurred.
Additionally, the truck’s position involved in the accident and other vehicles involved in the collision also offer significant guidelines to determine the party at fault. Moreover, the accident scene assessment can help you retrieve vital information that serves as evidence during your trial for compensation.
The Debris or Damaged Truck Parts Retrieved
If the suspected liable party, in this case, is the vehicle manufacturer, your lawyer may use the services of professional dealers in truck parts to verify the cause of mechanical problems. The rationale behind sourcing information from a third party is to help discredit the standard of mechanical components used by the manufacturer or spare part dealer to deny their liability.
Thus, if the professional assessor testifies on the flawed nature and quality of truck parts that inevitably caused the accident, the statements will serve as evidence against the defendants, promoting the chance for a favorable case outcome.
The Surveillance Footage Captured Before and After the Truck Accident
Additionally, your attorney should also go over any useful sources of proof from the surveillance cameras available on the highways to retrieve any valid evidence. For example, suppose footage is available to show that the truck driver who hit you was inattentive or distracted. In that case, your compensation claim becomes more justified based on the truck driver's negligence.
Police Report Taken After the Incident
Statements from both parties after the truck accident occurred are also important evidential sources in court, primarily because they indicate the parties' initial reactions to the collision. Sometimes, the truck driver may admit fault, mostly where the impact was direct and undisputed.
For example, if the accident occurred as the driver used excess speed to overtake at dangerous points on the road, he/she should not take rigorous action to avoid liability. In most cases, police reports will indicate a statement where the truck driver mentions engagement of speed.
On the other hand, we advise any party involved in an accident to avoid admitting fault, even in circumstances where you think you may have partially been liable. Doing so may jeopardize your claims and lead to the imposition of contributory negligence. Instead, we recommend contacting your lawyer as soon as possible to help you in giving your police statement. This way, you can be sure of accurate information in the police reports that later form part of the court’s evidence.
Contact a Truck Accident Injury Attorney Near Me
After involvement in a truck accident, you or your loved one may experience devastating outcomes that change your life forever. In most cases, the accident victims cannot resume their daily routines and career, on top of relying on caregivers for physical support. As a result, it is crucial for you as an afflicted party to seek compensation for the harm and damage you sustain. In doing so, you secure yours and your loved one's financial position and seek justice for the losses.
At the Truck Accident Injury Attorney Law Firm , we work hard to provide California’s best personal injury services. Our years of specialized experience in the field of personal injury gives us all the tools we need to advocate for your rightful compensation. If you or your loved one needs legal assistance and representation for a truck accident case, call us today at 888-511-3139.
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