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Who Can Be Found At-Fault for a Truck Accident in California? How Will Compensation Be Determined?

Truck accidents are most likely to happen on fast moving highways that are filled with every type of vehicle imaginable. The unfortunate reality is that when a large, heavy commercial truck is involved in a highway accident, it also has the potential to affect other passenger vehicles around it. Not to mention the resulting damages of this type of collision are not only catastrophic, but determining liability can be a logistical nightmare.

In fact, large trucks and semis are one of the leading causes of traffic-related deaths in the United States. California, in particular, has seen some of the worst truck accidents in the country. A tractor-trailer or 18-wheeler can weigh 20 to 30 times more than a passenger vehicle. Due to their size and weight, commercial trucks are dangerous and virtually guaranteed to crush smaller vehicles in an accident.

A report compiled by the Analysis Division of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2017 showed that driver error contributed to 32 percent of fatal accidents involving large trucks. “Speeding of Any Kind” was the most common issue for these types of accidents. “Distraction/Inattention” came in second.

Moreover, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that most deaths in large truck crashes are passenger vehicle occupants. In 2019, 4,119 people were involved in a fatal truck accident. 16 percent of deaths were from truck occupants, 67 percent were from car occupants and other passenger vehicles, and 15 percent were from motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Just by the mere size and weight of these vehicles increase the likelihood of sustaining severe or fatal injuries, altering a victim’s life forever. That’s why if you were involved in a truck accident, it is very important to file a claim to recover compensation for damages.

When it comes to how a personal injury claim is handled, truck accidents can be a complex process. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we have qualified truck accident attorneys with over 60 years of collective legal experience in handling personal injury cases. We have won more than 5,000 personal injury cases and recovered over $1 billion in settlements for our clients. Due to our achievements, we have been acknowledged as one of the top personal injury law firms in California.

To schedule a free consultation, please contact our 24/7 legal team by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our quick contact form.

Determining Liability

Truck accidents can be caused by many circumstances, and others can even be no-fault truck accidents, too. California is a comparative negligence state, meaning that an at-fault driver may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit for damages, even if they were partially at-fault for causing a truck accident.

While multiple parties can potentially be held liable for a truck accident victims’ injuries and losses, proving liability will typically involve one or both of two legal theories: negligence and strict liability.

According to California negligence law, any truck driver found guilty of negligence can be held liable for causing injuries and damages to another motorist. A driver who was injured by a negligent truck driver is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the aggrieved party must prove that the truck driver was negligent in causing the accident.

California’s strict liability law states that designers, manufacturers and even any companies involved in a product’s chain of distribution can all be held liable if one of their defective products contributes towards causing a truck accident. In strict liability cases, negligence will not factor when determining liability, because any of these companies can be found liable whether or not they made any mistakes that contributed to the truck accident.

Guilty parties in truck accidents may include the following.

  • The truck driver. All trucks are subject to state and federal laws and regulations to minimize accident risks, however, truck drivers are often under immense pressure to meet their deadlines. This will trigger them into performing reckless or negligent actions to keep up with their schedules.
  • The trucking company. Trucking companies may intentionally or recklessly violate transportation regulations or safety requirements to increase their profit margins. When these violations contribute to causing a trucking accident, that company may be held liable for any injuries or damages caused.
  • Designers, manufacturers, or any companies involved in a product’s chain of distribution. They will be held accountable if a defective truck part causes, or contributes to causing, a truck accident.
  • Other driver(s). A driver, or multiple drivers, can also share some degree of responsibility for contributing to a truck accident. However, an injured driver who is found partly responsible for a truck accident may still be able to recover some damages.

Calculating a Settlement

Truck accident victims who sustain serious injuries will typically need immediate medical attention, and in many cases costly, longer-term medical treatment. In some instances, they are no longer able to work, or not able to do so for a long time, causing financial hardships. Add rising medical expenses and this can quickly ruin the victim’s financial stability.

That’s why it’s important to seek out an experienced truck accident lawyer who can help you reach fair compensation for injuries and damages sustained from the collision. These settlements often vary case-by-case, but among the considerations factored in include:

  • Severity of injuries
  • Lost wages
  • Amount of medical bills accumulated and property damages
  • Future expenses, like ongoing treatment to recover from injuries
  • Wrongful death

Available Damages 

After a truck accident, compensatory damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for their losses. In general, a plaintiff must prove they were harmed or injured in order to be entitled to damages. A victim can typically file a lawsuit to recover two types of damages: economic and non-economic.

Some economic damages in a truck accident may include: Lost wages, loss of consortium, vehicle repairment, lost earning capacity, and past and future medical expenses.

Non-economic damages include, but are not limited to: emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment of life.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

If you have sustained injuries as a result of a truck accident, our expert truck accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers will help you recover compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. 

Contact us today by calling 213-927-3700 or filling out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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