Driving alongside truck drivers is a dangerous affair. The statistics confirm it. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 4,102 people who died in commercial truck accidents in 2017. These numbers break down as follows:
- Seventeen percent were truck occupants.
- Sixty-eight percent were occupants of passenger vehicles.
- Fourteen percent were pedestrians, bicyclists or motorcyclists.
Comparatively speaking, in 2009, the United States experienced the lowest number of fatal truck crashes since data started to be collected by the authorities in 1975. In 2017, there was a 30 percent jump in truck crashes compared to 2009. The number of those who died was an incredible 52 percent higher than in 2009, too. Those statistics are alarming. Statistics for 2018 have not yet been released.
More often than not, accidents with large trucks are due to the negligence or recklessness of truck drivers and all those associated with the truck.
So, if you lose a loved one due to a truck accident, who do you sue? The truck driver alone or someone else or multiple people?
Who In California Are Potential Defendants In Fatal Truck Accidents?
Truck accidents are unique in that there can be any number of people or entities who can potentially be held responsible for your accident and, thus, liable for your economic and non-economic damages stemming from the loss of a loved one. Here’s a quick overview of whom these defendants may be.
Truck drivers drive long distances over long hours. The law requires that they take specific breaks and keep logs of driving hours to ensure they are in accordance with the law, but they don’t always do so. The sooner they get to their destination, the more money they make — so it’s incentive to them to go faster for longer periods of time. That, however, leads to mistakes and accidents. They are also more prone to falling asleep at the wheel, which is dangerous for everyone on the road.
Not all truck drivers own their cab. Trucks must be maintained and kept in good repair to meet safety regulations. When the truck owner does not maintain the truck, then things can go wrong quite easily. Consider this: the truck is driven over long road sometimes in harsh weather for long periods of time — maintenance is necessary or else breaks can wear, tires can wear, and other components can wear down and cause an accident.
Truck Driver Employer
Employers sometimes pressure their employees to work longer, and this pressure can lead to truck drivers completing logs in error. Employers may also — given the high demand for truck drivers — hire individuals who have suspended commercial licenses or other issues. If the latter is proven, then the employer can be vicariously liable.
Companies who provide workers to load the truck can also be held liable. The weight and distribution of the contents of the freight are important factors to safety. If the content is loaded improperly, it can cause the weight to shift in a way that leads to accidents.
Other Potential Defendants
There are others, too, who can be held liable depending on the circumstances. These include:
- the freight owner;
- the shipper;
- repair persons; and/or
- maintenance shop owners.
As you can see, a good number of people can potentially be sued. Each of them should have their own insurance coverage, which benefits you. The more burden shared, the more likely you are to receive full, fair, and just compensation.
But it is important to seek the counsel of a resourceful attorney in California with specific experience in both truck accidents and wrongful death claims. The sooner you do, the sooner your attorney can help you identify all possible defendants before you file your wrongful death lawsuit.