Truck Accidents: Are Truck Drivers Liable for the Damage?

Every vehicular accident is unique, and truck accidents are no different. Truck drivers could be liable for damages in a collision, but they are not necessarily liable 100% of the time. Frequently, there may be multiple defendants because many truck drivers are working as employees. A truck drivers’ liability is determined on an individual basis. If you sustained injuries in a truck accident, it’s best to speak with an experienced trucking accident lawyer at Henderson Law. We can review the facts of your case and help you identify the liable parties.

Depending on the circumstances of the accident, additional defendants can include:

  • Another motorist,
  • The trucking company,
  • Cargo carrier or another vendor,
  • A manufacturer of a faulty part,
  • A mechanic who did not perform work as expected, or
  • A government agency responsible for highway maintenance or design.

Truck accidents are often complicated to pursue because it’s not uncommon to have multiple defendants who share a percentage of fault. That is one reason why it’s best to have an experienced legal advocate on your side. Failure to identify all potential defendants means you could be losing out on the compensation you deserve.

Truck Accidents and Liability

A truck severely damaged.Before collecting any money for your injuries and property damage, you need to prove liability against the negligent parties. A thorough investigation can help identify and determine who the responsible parties are. Hiring an experienced injury lawyer can help streamline the investigative process and protect your rights. The defendants will be looking to place as much blame on you as possible, thereby reducing or eliminating their exposure.

To establish negligence in a truck accident claim, you need to prove the following elements:

  • The defendant owed you some type of duty of care,
  • The defendant breached their duty of care,
  • The breach of duty is what caused the accident and your injuries, and
  • You suffered financial losses due to the accident.

Failure to prove all these elements means you will not be successful in recovering financial compensation for your injuries.

California is what’s known as a pure comparative negligence state. That means parties can collect a portion of their damages even if they are primarily responsible for the accident. If a jury finds you 90% at fault for the accident, you could receive 10% of your damages. The more liability the defendants can place on you, the less money they will pay out. That is why it’s vital to have a legal advocate on your side who can protect your rights. We will also ensure the defendants treat you fairly and do not try to undervalue your claim just to save money.

Truck Accidents and Damages

If you can prove liability in your case, you could receive compensation for your damages. Damages can be broken down into two main categories—economic or special damages and non-economic or general damages. Your economic damages include tangible losses, such as:

  • Medical expenses to date,
  • Future expected medical expenses,
  • Lost wages to date,
  • Future loss of earning capacity,
  • Property damage, and
  • Rental car reimbursement.

Your general damages are harder to calculate because there are no direct financial losses associated with them. Non-economic damages include your physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and more. They are subjective and therefore typically highly disputed in personal injury claims.

The standard for determining non-economic damages depends on your injury type and the severity of your injuries. For example, someone who suffers catastrophic injuries in an accident will have more significant non-economic damages when compared to a victim whose injuries healed in three months. When you have a skilled trucking accident attorney on your side, we can help you reach an accurate value for your pain and suffering.

In limited scenarios, you could be eligible for punitive damages. Courts reserve punitive damages for cases involving intentional acts or gross negligence. A truck driver who was drinking and driving could be facing a punitive damages award. Punitive damages aren’t necessarily to reimburse you as the victim for your losses. Instead, courts use them to “punish” a defendant in hopes of deterring them from similar behavior in the future.

Federal and State Trucking Laws

Truck accidents differ from other types of motor vehicle collisions because different rules apply. Truck drivers and companies are subject to specific state and federal laws that differ from standard motor vehicle laws.

For example, truck drivers cannot exceed a certain number of hours per day or week behind the wheel of their truck. Drivers must log their hours in a logbook. If a driver is falsifying their records, you need to investigate why. Is the trucking company forcing them to exceed the maximum hours and lie about it on their logs? If so, the trucking company could be on the hook for violating these federal laws. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency in charge of federal trucking rules.

State-level rules vary from state to state. Some regulations dictate specifics regarding the size of trailers and loads those trucks can carry. These factors also play a role in determining a truck drivers’ liability. Unless you have extensive knowledge of these laws, you need an attorney who has experience in the field.

How an Experienced Trucking Accidents Liability Lawyer Can Help

Not all injury attorneys know federal trucking regulations and have experience with these types of cases. It would be best if you had a legal advocate on your side who does. When you hire Henderson Law, we will immediately start an independent investigation. Our goal is to gather sufficient evidence to show who the liable parties are. We want to ensure those parties who caused your injuries are held financially responsible.

In cases with complex liability, it may be necessary to hire one or more experts. We routinely work with well-respected industry experts who can review your case as needed. For example, we may need to call on an accident reconstructionist in a case involving multiple vehicles and a large commercial truck. An accident reconstructionist can conduct tests and review the facts of the case to provide an educated opinion on who caused the accident.

If you are now permanently disabled due to injuries sustained in the accident, we may need a life care planner and other experts to determine what your case is worth. You may need lifelong care, future surgeries, and permanent changes to your home. An attorney experienced in truck accidents can help you determine the value of these types of needs.

Contact a California Trucking Accident Lawyer Today

Investigating truck accidents and liability is almost always complicated. At Henderson Law, we have over two decades of experience with personal injury claims, including large truck accidents. We’ve recovered over ten million dollars for our clients to date. Contact our office today to schedule a free no-obligation consultation. Let us put our experience to work for you and help you get the compensation you deserve.