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Multi-Vehicle Semi Truck Accident Liability

Multi Vehicle 18 Wheeler or Semi Truck Accidents: Insight From the Best Truck Accident Injury Lawyers

Multi-vehicle accidents typically 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 of affecting several passenger vehicles around it. The resulting damages of this type of collision are not only disastrous, but determining liability is a logistical nightmare.

If you have suffered injuries as a result of a truck crash in California, the experienced truck accident attorneys at West Coast Trial Lawyers are always here to answer any questions you may have about truck accident claims and damages.

Danger of Pile-Up Accidents

Highway accidents involving multiple passenger vehicles and commercial trucks are very difficult to assess. There are so many reasons why a multi-car pileup can occur. For example, anytime a truck jackknifes or rolls over, it is almost inevitable that it will damage other cars within its radius.

In the previous example, the truck that caused the pileup would likely be held liable for the accident because the surrounding vehicles don’t really have a way of preventing or avoiding the accident. Please read below, as our truck accident attorneys will discuss liability and negligence as it relates to multi vehicle semi truck accidents.

Determining Liability In Multi-Vehicle Truck Accidents

Determining liability after a trucking accident when multiple vehicles are involved is a nightmare. Not only are commercial truck accidents catastrophic from an injury perspective, they are also complex from a legal standpoint, because multiple parties can all be held liable. Commercial truck accidents can be caused by many circumstances. Depending on the specific circumstances, either the truck driver, the trucking company, the truck manufacturer, and other drivers can all be held liable for the accident. 

It is important to note that a driver, or multiple drivers, can also share some degree of responsibility for causing a trucking accident. However, an injured driver who is found partly responsible for causing a trucking accident may still be able to recover some damages. California is a comparative negligence state, which means 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 trucking accident.

Negligence Or Strict Liability?

While numerous parties can potentially be held liable for a trucking accident, proving liability will typically involve one (and possibly both) of two legal theories: negligence and strict liability. 

Let’s examine negligence as it relates to a trucking accident. According to California negligence law, any driver found guilty of negligence can be held liable for causing injuries and damages to another. A driver who was injured by a negligent truck driver is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit, and vice versa. However, the aggrieved party must prove that negligence caused the accident. 

There are three (3) elements for demonstrating negligence in a California commercial trucking accident. Let’s pretend that a truck driver caused a pile up. In that scenario, the following will be assessed:

  • The truck driver owed the accident victim a duty of care
  • The truck driver breached their duty of care through negligence
  • The truck driver’s breach was the significant factor in causing a victim's losses

A duty of care is a basic legal requirement for drivers to watch out for other drivers and use reasonable caution while behind the wheel. 

For example, a duty of care for a truck driver would require that driver to:

  • Watch for pedestrians, other vehicles, and obstacles
  • Control the movement and speed of their truck
  • Use reasonable care while operating their truck

According to California strict liability law, 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 multi-vehicle trucking 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 trucking accident. 

Strict liability claims can be based on:

  1. Faulty accelerator pedals 
  2. Faulty engine/transmission parts
  3. Faulty tires
  4. Faulty brakes
  5. Faulty cargo ties or straps

In summary, if a defective part causes -- or contributes to causing -- a trucking accident, an injured victim may have a number of possible sources to seek compensation from.

In essence, anyone who contributes some degree of negligence towards causing a multi vehicle truck related accident will be held liable according to how much their negligence affected the accident. 

For example, a scenario may exist where faulty truck brakes caused a pile up. In that case, any trucks or vehicles affected will be able to recover damages from the product manufacturer. Or let’s say that a truck driver was under the influence. In that case, the truck driver would be held liable.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence. 

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages
Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain And Suffering
  • Loss Of Enjoyment Of Life
Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact were only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

Contact a Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyer

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a trucking accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call us today at(213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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