Accidents that involve commercial trucks can be catastrophic. Given the size and weight of commercial trucks, these accidents can result in very serious injuries or even fatalities. If you or a family member was involved in a truck accident, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries by filing a personal injury claim. To collect the maximum amount of compensation, you should identify as many defendants as you can in your claim.
Under California law, there can be many potential defendants in a truck accident. The most obvious is the driver. If you can show that the driver was negligent, he or she may be held liable for your injuries. However, the list of potential defendants is not limited to just the driver. The trucking company, the driver's employer, contractors, and insurance companies may also be held responsible.
Under a legal theory called vicarious liability, an employer can be held responsible for the actions of its employee. In the case of a truck accident, the trucking or shipping company can be liable for its driver's negligence. You must be able to establish the employment relationship between the driver and the company. A company is not responsible for the actions of an independent contractor. Additionally, you must be able to show that the accident happened while the driver was on the job.
Depending on the nature of the accident, a manufacturer may also be liable for your injuries. This can be true in two different scenarios. The first is where the truck itself had some sort of defect that led to the accident. The manufacturer may be held liable for its defective product under a theory called products liability. The other scenario is if a manufacturer created hazardous materials, which were being transported by the truck. If those materials made your injuries worse, the manufacturer may be held legally responsible for the injuries.
This post is intended to provide only an overview of possible defendants in a personal injury claim arising out of a truck accident. Each case is very fact-specific. To get help with your claim, contact an attorney who has experience in trucking accidents.