Commercial and other large trucks are essential to our economy. We rely on them for the convenience of fast, even overnight, deliveries, but this convenience comes with a cost. With more trucks on the road, there are more opportunities for accidents, and truck accidents typically generate severe consequences for all involved.
When you are injured in a truck accident, it is important to secure compensation. All aspects of your recovery, physical, emotional, and financial, depend on it. A Sacramento truck accident lawyer from Triumph Law has the skill, knowledge, and determination to identify the liable party and hold them accountable so you get the settlement you need.
What It Means to Be Liable for a Truck Accident
When someone is “liable” for a commercial truck or any motor vehicle accident, they bear the fault for the accident. In California, which is a fault state, accident victims can hold at-fault parties liable for paying them (the victims) compensation.
For example, if a passenger vehicle driver is hit by a commercial truck, and the commercial truck driver is at fault, the injured passenger-vehicle victim can file a claim against the commercial truck driver’s insurance seeking coverage for medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
California Follows a Pure Comparative Fault System
For personal injury claims, the type of claim filed in a truck accident case, California adheres to a pure comparative fault system as explained in California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) 405. This means even if victims hold some–or a lot–of responsibility, even 99% of the blame, they can still file to collect damages.
However, the system also affects how much victims can collect. If they are 99% at fault, the full settlement amount they can receive is reduced by that same 99%. Clearly, determining levels of fault is important to both accident victims and the at-fault party.
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Determining Liability in a Commercial Truck Accident
For a proper determination of liability, an accident has to be investigated thoroughly. As a victim, you can count on the “other side” to conduct their own investigation and perhaps even “interpret” details in ways that benefit their interests. You need a Sacramento truck accident attorney to carry out an honest investigation, find out what truly happened, and protect you from unfair accusations of blame.
The team at Triumph Law has the resources, experience, and commitment to examine your accident carefully, uncover all relevant details, and build a strong case. You can count on your attorney to find out what caused your accident and secure evidence to prove it by:
- Consulting with experts, including accident reconstructionists
- Acquiring photo and video evidence from traffic, security, or witnesses’ cameras
- Interviewing witnesses
- Obtaining the truck’s “black box” information
- Reviewing the truck’s inspection and maintenance histories
- Reviewing the truck operator’s driving history
- Gathering physical evidence from the accident scene, if available
- Speaking with a medical professional about how your injuries could have happened
- Pursuing any other avenue of information
The “Black Box”
Commercial trucks, as well as many other large trucks or vehicles, are outfitted with electronic data recorders (EDRs), more commonly known as “black boxes.” Some devices capture more information than others, but every bit of data can make a difference. Black box data can potentially reveal:
- The truck’s speed
- Steering maneuvers
- Whether or when brakes were activated
- Rates of acceleration and deceleration
Trucking companies must also keep track of a driver’s hours through an electronic logging device (ELD). Truck operators have to comply with strict regulations for hours of operation and mandatory rest established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
Black box and ELD data belong to the trucking company. To ensure that data is not intentionally or accidentally erased or lost, partner with a truck accident attorney in Sacramento as soon as possible after your accident. Your attorney will send the company an evidence preservation letter to keep that data secure.
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Parties Who May Hold Liability for a Sacramento Truck Accident
Accidents happen for a number of reasons, and sometimes, what seems to be the obvious cause is not the actual cause. Filing a claim against the assumed at-fault party can cost you a settlement as you ultimately will not be able to prove their fault. Through the investigation, your attorney will identify the at-fault party, and the potential culprits include:
- The truck operator: Drivers may be out of compliance with work and rest hours or daily truck inspection regulations, may drive while distracted or under the influence, speed, drive in lanes prohibited to commercial vehicles, ignore traffic laws, or simply make operational errors.
- The trucking company: Companies may not take dangerous drivers off the road, may “encourage” drivers to overload cargo or speed in response to the competitive industry, and may fail to upkeep trucks to required maintenance and safety standards.
- Truck inspectors and mechanics: Inspectors are tasked with finding safety problems and taking potentially dangerous vehicles off the road. Mechanics are responsible for fixing problems and ensuring all parts of the truck are operational.
- Vehicle or part manufacturers or installers: Truck and part manufacturers and installers are responsible for producing vehicles and vehicle systems. Even minor defects can cause deadly outcomes.
- Government offices: Different government entities are in charge of maintaining safe roadways by fixing road defects and ensuring traffic signals and street lights are in working order.
Collecting a settlement requires proving four elements of negligence. First, your attorney will show the at-fault party owed you a duty of care, a legal responsibility, to preserve your safety. For example, all drivers owe other drivers this duty and must refrain from unsafe driving behaviors and practice safe driving behaviors.
Next, your truck accident lawyer in Sacramento must prove the at-fault party failed to perform their duty to you–they breached their obligation—perhaps by driving drunk or speeding. Then, your attorney must prove that this breach, and not other factors, caused the accident leading to your injuries and measurable damages.
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We Do Not Give Up
Some law firms will encourage you to settle out of court and settle for less than you deserve just to bring your case to an end. Your Sacramento truck accident lawyer from Triumph Law will do what is best for you. If that means settling, we will advise you in that direction.
If you need to take your case to court to get the full compensation owed to you, we will not give up. Contact us today. We will fight for as long as it takes to get you justice.