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Co-Driver Truck Accident Comparative Liability

Can a Co-Driver Be Held Liable for a Truck Accident?

Truck driving is an extremely skilled profession that requires drivers to stay focused on the road for long stretches of time. Sometimes, a truck driver will have a co-driver assigned to assist them by legally driving for a certain period of time. However, a co-driver has the capabilities of committing a negligent or reckless act that may contribute to an accident. Under this type of circumstance, that co-driver can be held liable for any damages or injuries that resulted from the collision.

Below, our expert team of truck accident injury attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers break down the implications of having a co-driver present in a truck accident.

Different Ways a Co-Driver Can Cause an Accident

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California is an at-fault state, meaning that somebody must be found liable for causing an accident. California is also a comparative negligence state, meaning that more than one person can be held liable for causing an accident. At-fault drivers will be determined based on the level of negligence they contributed to the crash.

A co-driver can, in fact, be held accountable for an accident. Here are some ways that a co-driver could be found partly responsible.

  • Distracting the driver. Distracting the truck driver in any way that causes them to take their attention off the road is dangerous. This includes arguing with the driver, showing them content on a device, horseplaying, or playing loud music.
  • Ignoring dangerous conditions. A co-driver is expected to assist the truck driver with work-related duties. If a co-driver notices that the truck driver is not mentally or physically suited to work, then they must prevent the truck driver from operating the vehicle to avoid getting into an accident. Examples of dangerous scenarios include falling asleep while driving or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ignoring these red flags could get both drivers in deep trouble.
  • Violating regulations. If the truck driver and co-driver are allowing one another to violate regulations and cause an accident while doing so, they could both be found liable for committing negligent actions. Some examples of regulation violations include, though are not limited to, the following: driving or encouraging the other driver to drive for a longer amount of hours than they are legally allowed to, not taking breaks, and failing to fill out or falsifying/altering log books.

Sleeper Berths 

All commercial truck drivers should know this rule: they cannot drive for more than 14 hours in a 24 hour period as a driver must take a 10 hour minimum break. Truck drivers may drive a maximum of 11 hours after they have been off-duty for 10 consecutive hours.

While having a companion to talk to while out on the road is great and can keep a truck driver from getting bored as they drive endless miles on the road, a co-driver can also become a distraction. After a co-driver completes their shift, they should use the sleeper berth, if the truck has one installed. This will allow the co-driver to have some rest and relax for a bit.

Usually, being asleep in the berth reduces the likelihood of a truck driver or co-driver from acting sluggish or tired during their shifts. Taking some time to have your body rest will allow you to feel refreshed and enhance your mood. This can contribute to an increase in overall work performance.

However, if a truck driver or co-driver has little to no sleep, it could affect the way they function throughout the day. Lack of sleep can result in sleep deprivation. The following are common symptoms that have been reported in those who have experienced sleep deprivation.

  • Loss of focus
  • High stress levels and irritable driving
  • Fatigue
  • Poor decision making

These symptoms can influence a truck driver to lose focus of the road and fall asleep behind the wheel. This is extremely dangerous since the truck driver has no intention of safely driving on the road, but more so of getting sleep.

While a sleeping berth has several pros that can benefit a truck driver and co-driver, it does come along with a few cons. To begin with, if the truck is involved in an accident while a co-driver is utilizing the sleeping berth, they could become seriously injured.

Two additional reasons why sleeping births can be so dangerous include the following:

  • The location of the sleeping berth in the cab of the truck.
  • Failure to use proper restraints while in the sleeping berth.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Is Here to Help

Get the compensation that you deserve! Our experienced team of truck accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers can help you recover compensation for your losses, this includes medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. No fees will be charged until your case has been settled. Call us today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate legal team.

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