Determining Liability in a Truck Accident

Factors Determining Liability Following a Commercial Vehicle Crash

After a collision with a commercial vehicle, you may assume that it's possible to hold the company liable for the damages and injuries you've suffered. On the outside, it makes sense; after all, companies are typically responsible for employees' actions. However, questions of liability in trucking accidents aren't always clear-cut. Here, we'll get into some of the issues attorneys consider during these injury cases, and you will learn how a lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve.

If a large truck or tractor-trailer hits your vehicle, determining who's at fault can become very complicated. When you and your truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles seek compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damages, and losses, the situation is rarely as simple as filing a claim with the truck driver's insurance company. For instance, more than one party may be responsible for various reasons.

  • The truck driver might be partially responsible for driving while distracted.
  • The trucking company may share responsibility for failure to maintain their vehicles or for negligent hiring or training.
  • Part manufacturers might be responsible for creating defective components, and the list goes on.

Depending on the nature of the case, attorneys for truck crash cases may have to prove that you're not liable in any way. Especially if you've been severely injured and are trying to focus on your recovery.

The "Independent Contractor" Defense Rarely Works

Back in the mid-1950s, trucking companies often tried to protect themselves from liability by leasing drivers and trucks so the workers could be classified as independent contractors. However, in 1956, Congress amended that law to prevent companies from using this devious tactic to dodge liability and shift the blame onto their drivers.

Since then, California law has held that any company leasing trucks must have exclusive control, possession, and use of the equipment for the lease duration. They must assume full responsibility for the trucks' operation. Although the 'independent contractor' defense against liability has been debunked, defense attorneys still try to use it on occasion. That's why it's so important to have an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who understands the law and can quickly refute the argument. With help from legal counsel, you will be able to work past the most common defenses and achieve a fair outcome.

Was the Commercial Vehicle Driver Acting Within the Scope and Course of Employment?

Some courts only find trucking companies liable for accidents if the truck's driver was acting within the course and scope of their job at the time. These courts refer to state agency statutes in these cases. Though laws vary by jurisdiction, common factors determining the answers to these questions include:

  • The employee's intent
  • The time, place, and nature of the employee's behavior
  • The sort of work the person was hired for
  • Incidental actions an employer should expect the worker to take
  • The level of freedom an employee has in performing their duties

When a driver isn't acting within the course and scope of their job at the time of an accident, the court might find that they're not liable for damages, and the claimant may be held responsible. If, in your case, the court decides to examine these questions and determine whether the driver was acting as a company employee at the time of the collision, a legal professional will anticipate the issue and handle it when it arises.

Call a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer to Learn Your Legal Options

Determining liability matters is just one small part of the process involved in filing a claim after you're injured in a truck accident. Because of the complicated and devastating nature of commercial vehicle accidents, seeking legal counsel from a motor vehicle accident attorney is crucial. Call the firm today to learn more or use the online contact form to request a consultation.