Davis Truck Accident Lawyer
Approximately 3,852 people died in large commercial truck accidents in 2015, according to IIHS. About 69 percent of these deaths were occupants of the sedans and other passenger vehicles that collided with the truck. Approximately 15 percent of victims were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists who were hit and killed by a tractor-trailer. Unfortunately, many of these terrible accidents occur in California. The states with the highest percentage of recorded truck accidents in the last 10 years have been led by California, according to Distracted Driving Accidents. If you or a loved one was involved in an accident with a large commercial truck, contact an experienced Davis truck accident attorney to discuss your legal options.Parties that May Be Held Responsible in a Truck Accident Case
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to pursue personal injury claims against multiple defendants. For example, not all accidents are the result of operator negligence. This means if an accident is caused by a faulty part or another mechanical failure, you could potentially hold a third party manufacturer responsible for your harms and losses. Even if the operator was negligent, there are likely other responsible parties to include in the lawsuit such as the trucking company for hiring a reckless operator or failing to train the operator properly.What Needs to Be Proven in Your Truck Accident Case
In a tractor-trailer accident case, the injured party (i.e. you) must produce sufficient evidence to establish liability on the defendant (i.e the truck driver and their employer). To establish liability, your personal injury lawyer must be able to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the truck driver (or other defendants) owed a duty of care to you and other drivers to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances and that the defendant(s) breached that duty, proximately causing your physical, mental, and emotional harm.Evidence That Can Be Collected to Prove Your Case
Establishing a viable truck accident injury case requires an investigation of your accident as soon as humanly possible. This is critically important to ensure evidence can be collected and preserved. Many types of information can serve as evidence in a truck accident case including:
- Truck maintenance records
- Logbooks that are required to be maintained, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
- Eyewitness statements
Many serious truck accidents are caused by the reckless or careless actions of a truck operator. The prevalence of negligent truck operators is surprising given the sheer size and weight of these vehicles. You would imagine exercising extreme care when operating a vehicle weighing in at over 80,000 pounds. Truck operator negligence often includes:
- Speeding or splitting lanes on roads or highways
- Driving with a too-heavy load
- Distracted driving
- Failing to secure cargo properly
- Operating the truck for a period of time beyond established hours of service
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
When there is evidence of an employer-employee relationship, it is possible to hold the employer accountable for the negligence of their employee. In the context of a truck accident case, we are talking about a big rig operator as the employee and the trucking company as the employer.
You may be asking yourself, “how is an employer responsible for an employee’s careless actions?” This legal responsibility is based upon “respondeat superior” which is a fancy legal term that basically means “if they are on your payroll, then you are potentially responsible for their careless actions.” This doctrine only applies when the employee is performing a task related to their job duties and is within the scope of their employment. Therefore, if a big rig operator hits you while they are operating a sedan during their day off, you cannot hold the truck company responsible. But, if your car gets hit by an 18-wheeler while the operator is working, respondeat superior generally applies.Get Ready for a Fight
You need an experienced Davis truck accident lawyer on your side because many commercial trucking companies try to fight liability by arguing that the operator’s negligent actions did not occur within the scope of employment. Companies sometimes try to reduce their liability by hiring drivers as independent contractors, rather than full-fledged employees. Deciphering these complex employer-employee relationships is necessary to ensure all responsible parties are included in your truck accident lawsuit.
As mentioned, other parties can also be held responsible for your trucking accident such as a part manufacturer if the accident was caused by a defect in a critical component part within the commercial truck.Holding Trucking Companies Liable for Improper Maintenance
Serious commercial trucking accidents are not just caused by operator negligence. Many accidents are actually caused by improper maintenance of the commercial truck causing it to malfunction while on a busy road or highway. In an effort to maximize profits, many trucking companies opt to defer routine maintenance. This is extremely risky since some commercial trucks that have been on the road for extended periods of time with little-to-no-maintenance are effectively ticking time bombs.
This is why there are state and federal regulations in place that require trucking companies to properly inspect and maintain their vehicles. Still, many trucking companies throw caution to the wind and neglect maintaining their fleet of vehicles until a terrible accident occurs. Parts that have been known to malfunction include the air brake system, hydraulic system, steering components, and even tires (through continued use of tires with virtually no tread). If one or more of these systems and component parts fail, you may be able to seek financial restitution against the trucking company, in addition to the truck operator.
The following video explains the types of damages you can claim in a trucking accident lawsuit.Davis Truck Accident Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Davis truck accident attorney. If you or someone you know has suffered a severe injury or passed away due to truck driver negligence, please call me at (530) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 11.14.19]