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:
- Faulty accelerator pedals
- Faulty engine/transmission parts
- Faulty tires
- Faulty brakes
- 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.