According to California negligence law, a truck driver who is found guilty of negligence can be held liable for causing injuries and damages to a motorist. A driver who was injured by a negligent truck driver is entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, the aggrieved individual has to prove the truck driver’s negligence was the primary factor that caused the accident.
There are three (3) elements for demonstrating negligence in a California trucking accident:
- 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 every truck driver 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
On the other hand, all drivers also have a duty of care to a truck driver. This means that a driver is expected to drive in a reasonable manner and not for example, drive while under the influence or fail to follow traffic laws. Any acts of negligence on the driver’s part will incur liability on his or her part and will also reduce the amount of recoverable damages.
According to California strict liability law, the designers, manufacturers and companies that play a role in a product’s chain of distribution can all be held liable if a defective product causes a trucking accident.
In a strict liability case, negligence is not a factor when determining liability. 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.
At Fault Truck Driver
All commercial trucking companies and drivers are subject to state and federal laws and regulations to minimize the risk of injury and harm. However, not all truck drivers and commercial trucking companies will follow these important safety laws. It is very common for trucking companies to poorly follow or ignore safety regulations in order to meet deadlines and maximize their profits.
Due to the immense pressure a truck driver is under, the potential for mistakes and negligent driving exponentially increases. According to Vehicle Code 21702 VC, it is a misdemeanor for a truck driver in the state of California to spend over twelve consecutive hours on the road in any 24-hour period.
A truck driver who is found in violation of safety regulations and causes an accident may be held liable for an injured driver’s losses. The reality is that most truck accidents are caused by a truck driver who was not using reasonable care while driving or who was in violation of safety regulations.
Truck driver negligence includes:
- Distracted driving
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Not following traffic signals
- Unsafe lane changes
- Not yielding the right-of-way and not abiding by safety regulations
- Texting and driving
Again, it’s important to understand that a negligent truck driver and a negligent motorist can both share a degree of liability for causing an accident.
At Fault Trucking Company
A commercial trucking company can also be found guilty of negligence for causing a trucking accident. Trucking companies may intentionally or recklessly violate transportation regulations and safety requirements to increase their profit margins. When negligence and safety violations contribute to causing a trucking accident, a company may be held liable for any injuries or damages caused.
Examples of trucking company negligence include:
- Overloaded trailers
- Allowing overweight vehicles
- Encouraging drivers to forego sleep and hour restrictions
- Allowing trucks to carry unbalanced cargo
- Not properly maintaining trucks
- Poor driver hiring and training practices
- Negligent retention of underqualified or underperforming employees
- Allowing and encouraging drivers to operate their trucks in violation of safety laws
California and federal regulations limit truck size, weight, and route designations for trucks. As mentioned, it is not uncommon for commercial trucking companies to violate safety regulations. Unfortunately, some companies may falsify their documentation process to hide incriminating evidence of their negligence. This is extremely reckless and can subject a trucking company to punitive damages.