It can be devastating when a truck’s erratic driving causes an accident.
If you’ve been in a truck accident, then you know just how scary such an experience can be.
Truck accidents can be much more complicated than car accidents.
That is why it is crucial to contact a Sherman Oaks truck accident lawyer before agreeing to any settlement from the insurance company.
Determining Liability After a Truck Accident
Truck accidents differ from private vehicle accidents because there may be multiple potential negligent parties.
On top of that, in California, truck drivers and truck companies must follow various regulations concerning loading requirements, inspections, and compliance issues.
Also unique is that some trucking companies encourage their drivers to ignore safety laws to meet deadlines and maximize profits.
Depending on the cause of the accident, an injured party must prove either negligence or strict liability to recover compensation.
California negligence law allows an injured party to recover compensation when a truck driver, or another party, acts negligently.
Generally, a party is negligent if they failed in their duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances and someone else suffered injury as a result.
Most truck accidents are caused by a truck driver not using reasonable care or violating safety regulations.
For example, a truck driver must use reasonable care by watching for pedestrians, other vehicles, and obstacles to the best of their ability.
Reasonable care is also controlling the movement and speed of their truck.
If the driver causes an accident because they were checking their phone rather than paying attention to the road, they were likely negligent.
Common truck driver negligence includes:
- Driving while distracted (looking at a cell phone while driving),
- Driving under the influence,
- Failing to obey traffic signals,
- Changing lanes in an unsafe or erratic manner, and
- Not yielding the right-of-way.
These are critical errors that could leave another driver with severe injuries.
Negligence may also occur when a driver violates a relevant regulation.
For example, in California, a statute prohibits a truck driver from operating their vehicle for more than 10 hours in a 24-hour period unless they have been off-duty for 8 consecutive hours.
If a truck driver violates this regulation, not only could they be found guilty of a misdemeanor, but their violation can make a clear-cut case for negligence.
In an accident involving strict liability, negligence is not a factor when determining liability.
According to California’s strict liability laws, designers, manufacturers, and any company involved in a product’s chain of distribution can be held liable if a defective product causes a truck accident.
Faulty equipment, like brakes, tires, engine parts, or cargo straps, could support a potential strict liability claim.
To learn whether strict liability may apply in your case, consider consulting with a truck accident lawyer in Sherman Oaks.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Accident?
After you’ve been involved in a truck accident, there may be multiple parties at fault.
Without a Sherman Oaks truck accident lawyer, it may be difficult to discern who is liable for your accident.
Commercial trucking companies maintain trucks as well as hire and train drivers (either as employees or independent contractors).
Inherent in running any company, there is a risk of legal liability.
If the trucking company fails to take steps to ensure its drivers and trucks meet the highest levels of safety, it could be found to be negligent.
Examples of trucking company negligence include:
- Failing to inspect or maintain their trucks,
- Failing to train their drivers properly, and
- Failing to ensure drivers are licensed.
Trucking companies are regulated to promote the safety of other drivers on the road.
If a company incentivizes its drivers to violate regulations, it can be held accountable.
If the negligent truck driver was an employee of the trucking company, the company may also be vicariously responsible for the employee’s actions.
This may be the case even if the company did not itself act negligently.
If a part on the truck malfunctions or breaks and causes an accident, liability may fall on the manufacturer of the part, rather than the trucking company.
Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the parts a trucking company uses are safe and in working order.
Transporting cargo packaged and loaded by the trucking company or other entities is another aspect of the trucking industry with potential liability.
If the cargo shifts during transportation due to incorrect loading or packaging and an accident occurs, these other entities may be responsible for damages.
If a truck maintenance company, like a repair shop, fails in its duty to exercise reasonable care, it can also be found to be negligent.
Negligent repairs occur when a mechanic performs insufficient work or neglects to fix the vehicle’s problem.
Failing to diagnose or misdiagnose obvious vehicle problems, ignoring or failing to replace damaged parts, and damaging other parts of the vehicle while making a repair are all examples that could make a strong case for maintenance company negligence.
When a truck accident is the result of driver mistakes or carelessness, it may be clear that the driver is at fault.
However, in determining liability, it matters whether the truck is owned by a trucking company or owned by the driver.
In some instances, a trucking company may not own the trucks its drivers use because many drivers are independent contractors.
When this is the case, a truck owner can be held liable for damages even if someone else was driving at the time of the accident.
Additionally, similar to a truck company’s responsibility, independent truck owners are responsible for the maintenance of their trucks, including checking brakes, fluid levels, and tires.
The truck owner may be held liable if they didn’t properly service their trucks.
Hire a Truck Accident Lawyer in Sherman Oaks
Without specialized knowledge of trucking laws, navigating your way to an appropriate recovery can be overly burdensome.
Starpoint Injury Law has experienced attorneys who can help ensure you get the full recovery you deserve.
We are passionate about serving the citizens of Los Angeles, and we make it a priority to stay active in our community.
Contact us today at 310-905-8442.