Potential At-Fault Parties (Defendants) for a Commercial Trucking Accident Case
In order to ensure a complete legal recovery for injuries suffered in an accident involving a commercial vehicle in California, it is important that you and your attorney identify as many potential defendants as possible. This is true in any injury case as the more defendants you have to go after, the better legal advantage you tend to have as each defendant will then start "pointing fingers at one another;" this can lead to a global settlement, or help to consolidate information and discover in some cases.
In many such cases, our San Diego truck accident attorney explains, the truck driver may not be the only person or business entity legally responsible for the accident. Trucking companies, contractors, employers, and insurance companies may be obligated to compensate you for your injuries. These entities need to be investigated.
When a commercial truck accident occurs on California roadways, if an employment relationship is established between the truck driver and a trucking or shipping company, then that company can be held legally liable for the driver's negligence under a legal theory known as "respondeat superior"
Under this liability doctrine, your California truck accident attorney will need to show that the company exercised some degree of control over the driver and that the accident occurred while the driver was acting in the course of the employment relationship.
Scope of Employment
Course and scope of employment is met when there is evidence that the truck driver was doing something to benefit his or her employer. Establishing the liability of a third-party company (employer) can become problematic when a truck driver is an independent contractor of a larger company. In such a situation, the key issue becomes the amount of supervising done by the company. How much control did the company exercise over the commercial truck driver?
The potential liability of trucking companies, employers, and contractors is a key factor in assessing recovery through insurance coverage, as all these entities will likely carry separate policies that will apply to the accident. In some not-too-common truck accident cases, the manufacturer or shipper of hazardous materials carried by the truck may also be legally responsible for any injuries that were caused or made worse by the type of cargo on board.
For example, if a shipper fails to advise a truck driver or trucking company of hazardous material contained in a load of freight, the shipper may be liable for injuries that result if that material catches fire or is released.
Damages in California Trucking Accident Cases
If you are involved in an accident where a commercial truck driver was at fault, you may be entitled to receive legal compensation for any physical, emotional, and financial losses that resulted from the accident. This is a complex area of the law because it is always difficult to place a dollar value on injuries that include death, paralysis, disfigurement, emotional distress, pain and suffering, costs of medical treatment, lost income, and loss of earning capacity.
In assessing and presenting your claim, a skilled attorney will consider all aspects of the harm and loss you have suffered as a result of your accident, to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your injuries.