If you have done much research about filing a truck accident claim, you have no doubt come across several resources discussing the complexity of these types of claims. But, while many lawyer websites and other resources will tell you that truck accident cases are complex, they won’t tell you why this is the case.
When you have a claim for compensation, it is important to have at least a general understanding of the process. If you know when you need to be involved, when you need to focus on your recovery, and when your lawyer needs time to do his or her job, you will be able to set realistic expectations and you will have a better overall experience with your claim.
So, why are truck accident cases so complex? Here’s what you need to know:
1. There Are Numerous Factors That Can Be Involved
While “ordinary” vehicle collisions can involve a variety of different factors, in the case of a commercial truck accident, there is far more that can go wrong. The same driver-related and vehicle-related risks apply, but truck accident cases also present the potential for claims based on:
- Cargo Loading Errors and Other Cargo-Related Issues – There are right and wrong ways to load cargo onto an 18-wheeler, tractor trailer, or flatbed. Overloading one side, failing to properly secure tiedown straps, and exceeding the truck’s gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) can all significantly increase the risk of a serious or fatal accident. In some cases, hazardous cargo can increase the risk of injury or death in the event of an accident as well.
- Violations of Federal and State Safety Regulations – Commercial trucks are subject to voluminous federal and state safety regulations in California. Violations of these regulations will often provide grounds to seek financial compensation.
- Trucking Company Negligence – Various forms of trucking company negligence can provide grounds for seeking financial compensation as well. This includes mistakes like hiring inexperienced drivers, failing to provide adequate training, and requiring employees to spend too many hours driving.
2. Oftentimes, Multiple Vehicles Are Involved
The more vehicles that are involved in an accident, the more difficult it can become to determine who is liable for the victims’ injuries and losses. In many cases, truck accidents will result in multi-vehicle pileups; even if the truck driver or trucking company is responsible for triggering the accident, it might not be the only party that is responsible.
As a result…
3. There Are Multiple Parties That Can Be Liable
Even in cases involving a commercial truck and just one other vehicle, multiple parties can be liable. The simplest example of this is trucking companies’ “vicarious liability” for their drivers’ negligence. Under California law, if an employee causes an accident within the scope of his or her employment (i.e., if a truck driver causes an accident while driving), his or her employer is liable for any and all losses that result from the collision.
Other parties that can potentially be liable for commercial truck accidents include:
- The owner of the cargo on the truck
- The shipping company that loaded the cargo onto the truck
- Another driver involved in the collision (or his or her insurance company)
- The truck manufacturer or the dealership that sold the truck
- A repair or maintenance shop that performed negligent work on the truck
- A manufacturer, dealership, or repair shop that made, sold, or worked on another vehicle involved in the crash
- The highway authority or a government contractor hired to design, build, or maintain the road where the accident occurred
4. Victims’ Losses Can Be Substantial
Another factor that adds complexity to commercial truck accident cases is the severity of the victims’ injuries. Statistically, truck accidents are far more likely to result in serious or fatal injuries than any other type of vehicle collision. When calculating damages for a life-altering or fatal accident, it takes a significant amount of time and effort to arrive at appropriate monetary compensation for the victim’s or family’s financial and non-financial losses.
5. Trucking Companies and Other Large Corporations Will Fight Vigorously to Avoid Paying
Finally, due to the potential for substantial liability, trucking companies and other companies that are to blame for commercial truck accidents will almost always vigorously dispute victims’ claims. In order to have any chance of recovery, victims must present comprehensive and undeniable cases for damages.
In some cases, it will be necessary for victims to take their cases to trial. This adds more steps (and more complexity) to the process, and it is yet another reason why victims and families need experienced legal representation.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation in Bakersfield, CA
If you would like more information about the process of seeking financial compensation for a commercial truck accident in California, we encourage you to get in touch. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with California truck accident attorney Mickey Fine, please call 661-333-3333 or inquire online today.