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Truck Accidents

Who is liable in a California truck accident case?

By June 28, 2021No Comments

Car accidents are scary enough on their own, but when there is a commercial truck involved, it’s overwhelming. Commercial trucking accidents – think semis, tanker trucks, dump trucks, etc., – often result in more serious injuries and more catastrophic damage to your vehicle. 

There are a lot of groups involved with the insurance settlement of a truck accident, and likely even more if the dispute goes to court. 

With the help of an experienced attorney, you can cut through all the red tape and identify the fundamentals of the case: who is at fault, and how you should be compensated for your losses. At Reiner, Slaughter, Mainzer, & Frankel, LLP, we value our clients’ needs above everything else, and we will walk you through that process.

How is liability determined?

Truck drivers work under the policies of the trucking companies that employ them, and those companies are governed by the regulations of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the California Department of Transportation.

With so many regulations in place, truck drivers are held to a high standard of driving safety. If you can prove that the driver failed to meet these standards, it will go a long way toward proving that you were not at fault for the accident.

Trucking companies will have attorneys working on their behalf, and they will do everything they can to avoid admitting liability for accidents. When that happens, you’ll need to file a lawsuit to be compensated for the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you sustained. 

It’s important to collect evidence that will help support your side of the story. In the case of a collision with a commercial truck, there will be ample records at your disposal, like event data recorders (also known as black boxes) and driving records.

After filing your lawsuit, the trucking company will likely want to reach a settlement. If not, your case will go to trial. Depending on the severity of your crash and the nature of your lawsuit, your trial could go before a jury, or be decided by a judge.

In the case of a trial, the ultimate decision over who is at fault, and therefore who is liable for the damages, rests with the judge and/or jury. With evidence and a seasoned attorney on your side, the chances of the judge or jury siding with you will increase exponentially.

Who can be liable in a truck accident?

Even if you were found to have caused – or played a role in – the crash, there are several companies or regulatory agencies that can be held partially liable. 

If the driver is an employee of the trucking company they work for, the company will likely be held liable for the damages. If, on the other hand, they are an independent contractor, the company cannot be held liable for their negligence in California.

In addition to the driver and the trucking company, there are a few other entities that could be held liable for the damages of the accident:

  • The cargo shipper, if the trucking company was contracting with a separate company
  • Other vendors
  • The manufacturer of the truck
  • The manufacturer of specific parts within the truck
  • Government agencies, if features of the road or the environment were responsible for the accident

Identifying who the truly responsible party is among all of these variables is no small feat. That’s why it’s so important to have the guidance of an attorney with experience working on truck accident cases.

Hire a truck accident attorney in California

Reiner, Slaughter, Mainzer & Frankel has won over $600 million for victims of defective vehicles, truck accidents, and distracted drivers. Contact us for a free consultation today.

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