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Who’s liable in a california truck accident?


Learn which parties may be at fault and how to receive compensation

Truck accident liability refers to the party (or parties) that can be held responsible for an accident. Because of a truck’s large size, it’s not uncommon for truck accidents to involve multiple vehicles and drivers—and in many cases, more than 1 person may be at fault. Liability claims can vary depending on many factors, such as where the accident occurred and whether it was due to an environmental hazard, manufacturing defect, human error, etc.

More than 1 party will likely bear liability in any commercial trucking accident, although the driver often has some responsibility for injuries and damages. The laws around commercial trucks and other large vehicles are different from passenger vehicles, and commercial trucking accidents often involve more than 1 legal issue, making them rather complicated.

Determining liability in a California truck accident

According to California law, you may be able to recover compensation for damages if another party negligently causes an injury or wrongful death. Negligence, in this case, refers to any conduct that falls below a reasonable standard of care.

Who’s liable in a truck accident?

Many parties may be liable following an accident with a commercial truck. An experienced attorney can help determine your best course of action and decide who may be liable in your accident case. Below are some of the parties that most commonly hold some liability in California truck accidents.

Truck drivers

If a truck driver’s actions contribute to an accident, they’re generally liable for their actions. Such actions may include being under the influence of alcohol or drugs as well as fatigued or distracted driving.

A truck driver can also be at fault for not obeying traffic laws or ignoring weight restrictions. If any of the driver’s behavior led to the accident, they should hold some responsibility for the injuries and damage you incurred.

Trucking companies

Trucking companies have specific rules and regulations they must follow, and they’re ultimately responsible for the drivers they employ and put on the road. That's why trucking companies are often partially liable for damages when there's an accident involving 1 of their drivers.

Additionally, trucking companies are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their vehicles and providing proper training for their employees. If any of these aspects are ignored or neglected, the trucking company may be responsible for damages when an accident occurs.

Cargo shippers and loaders

Some trucking companies work as contractors, transporting cargo that is packaged and loaded by other entities. If cargo shifts during transportation due to incorrect loading or packaging and results in an accident, these other entities may be responsible for damages.

The owner of the truck

In some instances, the trucking company may not actually own the trucks its drivers use. When this is the case, the truck owner can be held liable for damages even if someone else was driving at the time of the accident.

Owners may be responsible for the maintenance of their trucks, including checking brakes, fluid levels and tires. The truck owner may be held liable if they didn’t service their trucks correctly to ensure their safety and prevent an accident from occurring.

Truck manufacturers and parts makers

If a truck part fails, the manufacturer of that part would likely be liable for damages. For example, if a steering wheel part breaks or comes loose and causes an accident, the truck owner could sue the company that made that particular part.

While these circumstances can sometimes result from maintenance issues, if it can be determined that a part was faulty, the manufacturer may be held liable for the accident.

Potential damages after an accident with a truck

Potential damages after a truck accident can include compensation for medical bills, lost wages and mental anguish. In some instances, you may also be entitled to punitive damages from negligent drivers who knowingly or egregiously violated traffic laws. If a fatal accident occurs, family members may also bring wrongful death claims for their loss.

Economic damages

Economic damages are meant to compensate a victim for monetary losses such as medical bills and lost wages. These damages may also include anticipated expenses for any ongoing medical care and future lost wages if your injuries left you unable to return to work or only able to work in a limited capacity.

Non-economic damages

Non-economic damages are often more difficult to calculate because they’re not based on concrete financial losses. These damages may include:

    • Physical pain and suffering


    • Emotional distress


    • Loss of enjoyment of life


    • Permanent disabilities, impairments or disfigurements


    • Loss of consortium


  • Damage to familial relationships

When to contact a personal injury attorney after a truck accident

Truck accident cases can be complex. If you want to get the full compensation to which you’re entitled, it’s essential to find out which parties may be liable for your accident and injuries. An experienced car accident attorney understands liability laws and can help you determine who may be responsible for damages in your case.

Remember that many trucks are owned by big corporations that are backed by large insurance companies, whose goal is to get you to accept the least amount possible for your injuries. Don’t be pressured into accepting less than you deserve. Let an experienced attorney handle the negotiations so you can focus on recovery.

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a truck or any other kind of accident, the experienced personal injury attorneys at MVP Accident Attorneys are here to help. Our firm has recovered millions of dollars for our clients across the states of California and Texas, and we'd love to devise an individualized plan for you too.

Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation. There’s never a fee unless we win your case.


brett sachs2
Brett Sachs

Brett S. Sachs graduated from Michigan State University College of Law with Cum Laude Honors. While attending Michigan State, Brett was awarded for his service in the Michigan State University College of Law Civil Rights Clinic, where he represented prisoners of the Michigan Department of Corrections from injustices brought upon them. Learn more.

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