Truck accidents are some of the most damaging motor vehicle accidents to happen on the road, and they are also some of the most complicated to resolve from a legal standpoint. If you file a personal injury claim for a truck accident, you should know that determining liability for your claimed damages may not be easy. Due to the nature of the trucking industry in the United States, liability for a truck accident could fall to one or more parties.
Potentially Liable Parties in a Truck Accident Claim
In the event you suffer injuries and economic losses from a truck accident, you will need to determine the party or parties responsible for causing those losses. When it comes to narrowing down the possible liable parties, a few of the most common candidates include:
- The driver of the truck involved in the accident. If the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, distracted, or driving while fatigued, the driver could bear liability for the resulting damages from an accident.
- The employer of the truck driver involved in the accident. An investigation into the cause of the trucking accident might reveal that the truck driver did not have the appropriate license, credentials, or certification required for their job duties. Their employer may have failed to conduct a complete background check or neglected to finish the driver’s training. In some truck accident claims, the concept of vicarious liability comes into play when a truck driver’s actions reflect negligence on part of their employer.
- The manufacturer of a faulty vehicle or part. If the truck in question caused an accident due to a mechanical failure, liability for the accident’s damages may fall to the manufacturer of the defective item, whether it’s the vehicle itself or a specific faulty part within the vehicle.
- The party responsible for the truck’s maintenance and repairs. When truck accidents happen due to mechanical failures, these events may implicate the maintenance crews responsible for repairing and maintaining commercial trucks.
- The entity responsible for the care and maintenance of the road where the truck accident occurred. In the event unsafe road conditions cause a truck accident, liability could fall to a state-level or federal government agency. Pursuing a claim for damages is a complex process due to the legal concept of sovereign immunity that protects most government entities from civil liabilities. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you believe liability for your truck accident falls to the government entity responsible for maintaining the road.
- A distributor or shipping partner. Large tractor-trailers sit higher off of the ground than smaller passenger vehicles and therefore have higher centers of gravity. They are more vulnerable to weight imbalance and can tip or rollover due to an improperly balanced cargo load. If the party responsible for loading a commercial truck fails to load the vehicle properly and the weight imbalance causes an accident, then that party may bear liability for the resulting damages.
State laws vary when it comes to determining the liability of multiple defendants in any personal injury lawsuit. Truck accident claims have a higher chance than most other vehicle accident lawsuits to involve multiple defendants. The judge overseeing the case will likely assign different fault values to multiple defendants in a truck accident claim based on their levels of negligence. For example, if a truck driver was driving drunk but the trucking company that employed them did not perform a criminal background check for DUI, a judge may decide that liability for the accident’s damages falls to both the driver and their employer.
Why Legal Counsel Is Essential for Truck Accident Claims
Multiple defendants are just one possibility when it comes to pursuing legal action for a commercial truck accident, and an attorney can help you address any unexpected variables that arise in your truck accident claim. Hiring an experienced attorney should be your first step toward securing fair compensation for your damages. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to file a Complaint and assess the full scope of your damages as accurately as possible. The sooner you begin your lawsuit, the better. California places a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury claims, and this window may be even shorter if your claim involves a government entity.
Your attorney may need to coordinate with law enforcement at multiple levels and do extensive research to gather the evidence you need for a strong case. If you have sustained damages due to a truck accident but are not certain who is liable for your losses, speak with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Kreeger Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled Sacramento truck accident attorney who can offer comprehensive legal representation.