A commercial trucking accident can easily cause far more damage than any collision involving smaller passenger vehicles. Due to the average commercial truck’s size and weight, accidents involving multiple vehicles are more likely, and the injuries sustained by victims are likely to be far worse.
If you or a loved one recently sustained injuries and other losses in a commercial trucking accident, one of the most important factors in your recovery is determining who is liable for your damages. Truck accident claims are more complex than typical car accident claims due to the often-difficult process of determining liability.
Who Is Liable for a Commercial Trucking Accident?
Depending on how a truck accident occurs, one or more parties could absorb liability for the resulting damages:
- If a truck driver makes a negligent error, fails to operate the vehicle safely, or drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the truck driver is likely to be solely liable for the accident.
- Trucking companies may absorb vicarious liability for their drivers’ actions if evidence shows that they did not properly vet the driver before hiring them. Trucking companies must also ensure that all drivers have the required commercial drivers’ licenses to perform commercial trucking duties.
- A mechanic service or other party responsible for maintaining a commercial truck can be liable for any accident resulting from a mechanical failure. Large commercial trucks spend more time on the road than most other vehicles and have large, very complex mechanical systems. Failing to address known safety issues or fix mechanical problems could incur liability for an accident resulting from mechanical failure.
- It is also possible for a parts manufacturer to absorb liability for a trucking accident if evidence reveals that a defective part caused the accident. The subsequent legal action would fall under product liability statutes.
- If another party was responsible for loading the commercial truck and an accident occurs due to failure to secure large cargo or an imbalanced load, the loading party would likely face liability for the damages.
These are a few of the common issues facing claimants filing truck accident lawsuits. Determining liability is a significant challenge, but it is also possible for more than one party to absorb liability for a commercial trucking accident. This can further complicate the victim’s recovery, but the right attorney can significantly streamline these complex legal proceedings.
Potential Damages From a Truck Accident Claim
A legal action filed in response to a truck accident is a personal injury claim. California state law allows personal injury plaintiffs to claim several types of damages in their legal actions, including:
- Immediate and future medical expenses incurred by the incident. This can include hospital bills and ambulance fees as well as long-term physical rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Lost income and lost earning potential. An accident can leave the victim unable to work for an extended time or unable to work at all in the future. An experienced attorney can help a plaintiff in this situation determine the full amount of the lost income and lost future income claimable in their truck accident lawsuit.
- Property damage, including the cost of repairing or replacing the plaintiff’s vehicle damaged in the incident.
- Pain and suffering, which accounts for the physical pain, emotional distress, and mental suffering a plaintiff experienced due to the defendant’s negligence.
Once the plaintiff and their attorney have assessed the full scope of damages available in a claim, the next step in recovery is establishing liability for those damages and holding responsible parties accountable.
Claim Payout in Complex Truck Accident Cases
The ideal scenario for any truck accident victim pursuing legal action is that one party is liable for the full extent of their damages. However, due to the legal concepts of vicarious liability and the complex nature of many truck accidents, this is not always the case. Determining liability in any truck accident claim can be incredibly challenging, especially if more than one party is clearly to blame for the victim’s damages.
California upholds a joint and several liability statute. This law allows two or more parties in a personal injury claim to be held independently liable for the full amount of a plaintiff’s damages regardless of their respective degrees of fault in the case. For example, if one party is 30% at fault and the other is 70% at fault, the party that is 30% at fault can still be liable for 100% of the victim’s damages. Defendants will then need to take legal action against one another to establish each defendant’s full scope of financial liability to the victim.
Navigating any truck accident claim can be extremely challenging without legal representation. If you have recently sustained injuries and other losses in a truck accident and are unsure which parties are responsible for your damages, the Law Office of Black & DePaoli, PC, can help. Contact us today and schedule a consultation to learn more about how our firm can assist you.