Commercial Truck & Vehicle Accidents: Who Can be Held Liable?

Trucks and commercial vehicles are vital to the consumer industry, transporting more than 70% of all products used by Americans nationwide. Because they’re closely tied into the fabric of our economy, trucks are daily sight for many drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists with whom they share the road. As commercial trucks are also massive machines are prone to accidents, they pose substantial risks to everyone on the road. Those risks are managed in part by various state and federal safety regulations – but companies involved in commercial trucking and product distribution don’t always exercise the care needed to keep the public safe.

Victims involved in truck accidents face elevated risks of injuries, as well as increased risks for catastrophic injuries or wrongful death. When they do suffer harm, they have the right to pursue personal injury cases – or wrongful death claims filed on behalf of loved ones – against the at-fault party. Because there are many potential causes of trucking accidents, and many parties involved in commercial product shipping, determining who is at fault and who can be held liable for victims’ damages is a critical first step in the fight for justice and compensation.

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our personal injury attorneys fight on behalf of truck accident victims throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas of Southern California. By leveraging decades of collective experience, we conduct meticulous investigations into fault and liability. While every crash and case is unique, there are a few parties commonly held liable for trucking accidents. These include:

  • Truck Drivers – Statistics show driver error as a leading cause of truck and commercial vehicle accidents. Drivers who fail to abide by regulations (including those regarding drive-time limits, vehicle inspections, and more), or who commit acts of negligence or moving violations, substantially increase risks for wrecks; and fail to abide by their legal duty of safely operating their rigs. When truck driver negligence leads to preventable wrecks, victims make seek to hold those drivers liable. Depending on the circumstances, such as whether the driver is an independent contractor or an employee for a larger trucking outfit, there may be other accountable parties.
  • Trucking Companies – Ultimately, trucking operators are liable for the conduct of their employees, including drivers whose negligence or safety violations cause accidents and injuries. They also have obligations that reasonable measures are taken in ensuring the safety of drivers and their fleet. Negligence in hiring unsafe drivers or committing violations (failing to conduct regular vehicle maintenance, overloading trucks, etc.) can make trucking companies liable for damages victims suffer in preventable wrecks. Because trucking companies are corporations, they often fight personal injury and wrongful death claims aggressively, and work toward paying victims as little as possible.
  • Third Parties – In some cases, trucking accidents may be caused or contributed to by the negligence of third parties. These parties may include maintenance companies or cargo loaders / distributors with whom trucking operators contract out work, and who can commit critical violations (failures to fix potential vehicle hazards, failing to properly load and secure cargo, etc.) that lead to avoidable crashes. Drivers of other vehicles may also cause trucking wrecks through their negligence, and may be held accountable, in part or in whole, by victims seeking a recovery of damages. Exploring liability from all parties involved is an important part of any truck accident case.
  • Auto Part Manufacturers – Although driver negligence and safety violations cause a majority of truck accidents, some result from defective products or auto parts made by manufacturers that committed errors or were otherwise negligent in designing, manufacturing, or marketing products. Under product liability laws, manufacturers may be held liable for wrecks caused by defective brakes, faulty tires that separate or blowout in transit, and other auto part malfunctions or failures.

Securing the compensation victims need to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages is of the utmost priority in any personal injury case, and even more so in trucking accident cases where victims suffer serious injuries. Our personal injury team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP are available to help residents throughout the Greater Los Angeles area and beyond after being involved in all types of truck and commercial vehicle accidents, and can discuss the process and issues of liability during a free consultation. Contact us to get started.