A semi-truck accident is one of the more frightening things that can happen to you on the road. Big rigs are several times larger and heavier than your car, and even a simple bump from one of these trucks can seriously harm you and total your vehicle.
Compared to a typical car accident, determining fault in a truck accident case isn’t so straightforward. The driver’s employer, rather than the driver themselves, may be liable for your injuries.
Learn how to know who’s to blame for your truck accident below.
Truck Driver Liability
Many truck drivers try to drive safely at all times. A fully loaded semi-trailer can weigh up to 40 tons, and drivers are generally well aware of the damage their vehicle can cause.
But some truck operators drive recklessly. Their company may pay them based on how fast they make deliveries, and that gives them the incentive to speed and cut corners.
If a truck driver hit you because they were speeding or driving aggressively, you may be able to hold them personally responsible for your accident.
Truck drivers can make poor decisions and fail to pay attention to their surroundings. For instance, maybe a truck driver sideswiped you because they changed lanes without checking for other cars first.
Is a truck driver liable if they fell asleep behind the wheel? Maybe, but maybe not.
For trucking companies, it’s all about speed. The company may not have given the driver enough time to rest because they wanted each load delivered as soon as possible.
Determining fault in this situation can be tricky, but a skilled lawyer can help you put the pieces together to prove who’s liable for your accident.
Trucking Company Liability
It’s easy to assume that the person who hit you is automatically at fault for the accident. But in certain cases, it’s possible to hold the trucking company liable instead.
Some trucking companies don’t do their due diligence when hiring drivers. They may hire drivers who aren’t qualified or fail to provide training on how to handle semi-trucks safely. If an untrained or under-trained driver hits you, you may have a case against the driver’s employer.
It’s also possible to sue the company for damages if it loaded the driver’s trailer improperly. On the highway, cargo spillage is more likely for drivers traveling at 60 miles per hour or more. This is especially true of poorly loaded trailers, which can tip over or spill their contents all over the road.
If the trucking company owns its vehicles, it’s their responsibility to maintain and service them before drivers take them on the road. Faulty brakes, worn tires, and non-working lights can contribute to a dangerous or deadly accident. The driver may not have known that their employer failed to maintain the vehicle. In such a case, you’d hold the trucking company responsible, not the driver.
Trucks can develop mechanical problems even if the trucking company did everything right. If mechanical parts fail despite proper maintenance, you may be able to hold the truck manufacturer responsible for your crash.
But trucks can contain parts from various manufacturers, so how can you tell which manufacturer holds the blame? Tracking down the liable party takes a lot of time and effort. If the trucking company tells you that a manufacturing defect caused your accident, call an Orange County personal injury lawyer for help.
Proving Who Is at Fault for a Truck Accident
Determining fault in a truck accident case can quickly become a very complicated process. Eyewitness statements and the police report can be helpful. Your lawyer will also look at photos and video surveillance of the accident, if available.
The truck’s electronic logging device (ELD) and electronic control module (black box) can yield clues too. Your lawyer will also talk to the trucking company to gather information about maintenance and the driver’s record on the road.
If you’re hurt after your accident, you likely don’t have the time or ability to hunt down this evidence yourself. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer who can tackle the discovery process for you.
Should You Accept an Insurance Settlement From the Trucking Company?
Large trucking companies are behemoths with deep pockets and a team of skilled lawyers at their side. Trucking companies will work closely with their lawyers and insurance companies to offer you a settlement, but think carefully before you accept.
The company might aim to settle as quickly as it can for as little money as possible. Even if the settlement seems fair to you, it might not fully cover your medical bills and damage to your car.
If the trucking company’s insurer offers you an insulting settlement, it may be unwise to accept. Once you do, you can’t take the company to court to sue for more.
Call an Orange County truck accident attorney if you need help deciding whether to accept your settlement.
What if You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident?
In many truck accidents, both drivers share a portion of the blame. An accident may not have happened if you weren’t speeding or talking on the phone, for example.
But even if you’re partially liable, you can still recover some part of your damages in California. Our state follows what’s called pure comparative negligence rules. Even if you were 90% at fault, you can recover 10% of your damages award.
How Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Help in Your Truck Accident Case?
Determining fault in a truck accident case is different from handling an accident between other drivers. The trucking company may know many tricks when it comes to defending itself against liability claims. But a skilled lawyer likely also knows these tactics and comes prepared to help prove fault in your case.
In the days and weeks following a truck accident, every second counts. Reach out to an Orange County truck accident lawyer as soon as possible so they can start building your case right away.
Call Khalil Law Group at (714) 617-7870 for your free consultation today.