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Who Can Be Held Liable After a Trucking Accident?

Semi-truck 18 wheeler on the highway delivering freight

Truck accidents can be devastating, often resulting in serious injuries or even fatalities. Here in San Diego, we see enormous amounts of 18-wheeler truck traffic coming and going across the border and leaving some of the busiest ports in the world loaded down with cargo until the tractor-trailer maxes out at 70,000 or 80,000 pounds. In the event of a crash with one of these behemoths, getting compensation for the damage caused is crucial. Yet truck accidents can be complex, and determining who is at fault might not be an easy task at first look, as several different entities can be responsible, including multiple parties in one crash.

Read on to learn more about who can be held liable for a truck accident in California. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash with a commercial vehicle in San Diego, Southern California or beyond, contact Kalfayan Law Firm to discuss your potential claims with a skilled and dedicated California trucking accident lawyer.

In California, where highways are bustling with commercial vehicles, understanding who can be held liable in the event of a truck accident is crucial. This blog post aims to educate readers on the intricacies of liability in truck accidents within California’s legal framework.

Understanding Truck Accident Liability in California

Some of the key parties potentially liable in a trucking accident include the following:

  1. Truck Drivers: The most immediate consideration is the driver of the truck. If the accident was caused due to the driver’s negligence, such as speeding, distracted driving, drowsy driving, or driving under the influence, they can be held liable.

  2. Trucking Companies: Often, the company employing the truck driver can also be held responsible. This is based on the legal principle of “respondeat superior,” which holds an employer liable for the actions of its employees performed within the scope of their employment.

  3. Truck Owners: In cases where the owner of the truck is different from the operator, the owner can also be held liable, especially if the accident was due to issues related to the maintenance of the vehicle. Too many trucking companies operate their fleets with bad tires, bad brakes, and other critical safety failures.

  4. Cargo Loaders: Improperly loaded or secured cargo can lead to accidents. If this is the case, the party responsible for loading the truck could be held liable. This is not always the same party as the company driving the truck. It might be the freight shipper or some other third party. The driver might bear additional responsibility for failing to monitor the load throughout the trip.

  5. Vehicle or Parts Manufacturers: If the accident was caused by a defective vehicle or part, the manufacturer of the truck or the specific part can be held accountable under product liability laws.

  6. Maintenance Providers: Companies responsible for maintaining and servicing the truck could be liable if a mechanical failure that they should have addressed caused the accident.

  7. Other Drivers: Sometimes, the actions of other drivers on the road can contribute to a truck accident, making them partly or wholly liable. Trucking accidents often involve multiple vehicles, leading to complex questions of liability.

California’s Comparative Fault System

California follows a “pure comparative fault” system. This means that if the injured party is partially at fault for the accident, their compensation may be reduced by their percentage of fault, but they will not be prevented from seeking compensation from other negligent parties. For instance, if a car driver’s negligence is deemed to be 20% responsible for the accident, their compensation would be reduced by that percentage. Making sure accident victims aren’t blamed for an accident that wasn’t their fault is a key role personal injury attorneys play, in addition to proving the other party’s liability.

Legal Considerations in Truck Accident Claims

Investigating the Accident. Investigating a truck accident in California involves examining various elements, including the driver’s qualifications, the truck’s maintenance records, the trucking company’s history of safety compliance, and the actions of all parties involved at the time of the accident.

Statute of Limitations. In California, there is a specific time frame within which a truck accident claim must be filed. Generally, personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the accident. Failing to file within this period can result in the loss of the right to sue.

Damages Available. Victims of truck accidents in California can seek various types of damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and in some cases, punitive damages.

Why Legal Representation Matters

Given the complexity of truck accident cases and the involvement of multiple parties, having experienced legal representation is crucial. A skilled attorney can navigate the intricacies of the case, from identifying all potentially liable parties and building a case against them to negotiating with insurance companies and, if necessary, litigating the case in court.

Selecting a law firm with a strong record of successfully handling truck accident cases in California is essential. Look for a firm with experience in dealing with the unique challenges these cases present, and one that is knowledgeable about federal and state trucking laws and regulations.

Contact Kalfayan Law Firm for Help After a Trucking Accident in California

Trucking accidents in California can involve a complex web of liability and legal considerations. Understanding who can be held liable is the first step in seeking justice and compensation for the victims. With the right legal support, those affected by truck accidents can navigate the legal system effectively and work toward a fair resolution. For help with trucking accident claims statewide, call Kalfayan Law Firm in Del Mar/San Diego for a free consultation at 619-232-0331.


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