Who Could Be Liable for a California Truck Accident?

-Posted On October 11, 2021 In Truck Accident-

Truck accidents can be catastrophic. A commercial truck is much larger and heavier than the average passenger car, and collisions between the two types of vehicles can lead to very severe injuries, significant property damage, and psychological trauma.

California is a fault-based accident state. If you are injured in a San Francisco truck accident, you have the right to file a lawsuit or insurance claim against the person or entity responsible for the collision. However, multiple parties may be liable for your truck accident, depending on the cause and circumstances surrounding the crash.

The Truck Driver

In many accident claims involving commercial trucks, the driver is responsible for the collision. Truck drivers have a duty to follow multiple laws, rules, and regulations while performing their job duties. If they break any of those laws and cause an accident, they are liable for any resulting damages.

Driver negligence can involve committing a traffic offense, such as running a red light, or violating Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, such as driving more hours than allowed. Additional examples of truck driver negligence include the following.

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Driving while fatigued due to hours-of-service violations
  • Making an unsafe lane change
  • Driving over the speed limit
  • Exceeding cargo weight limits
  • Following vehicles too closely in front of them
  • Driving extremely fast for the size of the vehicle
  • Driving faster than weather or road conditions allow

The Trucking Company

If a truck driver’s negligence caused your accident, you can also file a claim against his or her employer. California employers are liable for any damages caused by their employees while they are performing job duties. However, this provision does not apply if the driver was an independent contractor.

You can always file a claim against the trucking company if the company’s negligence caused your accident, regardless of the driver’s employment status. Examples of trucking company negligence include the following.

  • Hiring improperly licensed and trained drivers
  • Improper cargo loading
  • Failure to regularly inspect its vehicles
  • Failure to perform maintenance on vehicles and allowing drivers to operate damaged vehicles
  • Pressuring drivers to adhere to strict deadlines
  • Encouraging employees to violate FMCSA regulations, such as driving more hours than allowed

The Manufacturer

If the accident occurred due to a defective vehicle or vehicle part, the manufacturer would be liable for the collision. You can also name the distributor, retailer, and any other party along the chain of distribution. The vehicle or vehicle part must be defective in its design, suffered a defect during manufacturing, or fail to provide adequate warnings or instructions.

A Government Agency

Government agencies are responsible for maintaining roads and responding to road hazards as soon as possible. If your accident occurred due to a road defect, such as loose gravel, potholes, or dangerously designed roads, you could file a claim against the agency responsible for maintaining that road. Government bodies that operate trucks are also liable for their drivers’ actions.

Speak to a California Truck Accident Attorney

Identifying the cause of a truck accident can be difficult, but you cannot file your lawsuit or insurance claim until you know who was responsible for the collision. In these situations, you need a San Francisco truck accident attorney on your side.

A truck accident lawyer can help you investigate your accident, gather relevant evidence, and represent you in your claim against the at-fault party. Contact an attorney as soon as possible following your accident to discuss your next steps.

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