Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

big truck driving on road

Truck accidents usually cause catastrophic loss due to their magnitude. When they do occur, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. There are usually multiple parties involved and responsible for ensuring a truck is safe for the road. Depending on the accident, liable parties could include the truck driver, trucking company, truck owner, loading company, or the manufacturing or repair companies. Each party has responsibilities established by federal and state laws:

Certified Licenses and Permits. A truck driver must have a proper, commercial driver’s license to operate a truck. In addition, a trucking company must obtain the necessary permits for operation. Under current federal law, any company that owns a trucking permit is responsible for trucks that have their placard or name on it. In addition, it is the company’s responsibility to verify their truck drivers’ licenses.

Driver Qualifications. Before receiving a commercial driver’s license, drivers must have an eligible medical certificate. Under federal law, a truck driver must pass a physical examination every two years. In addition, drivers must pass a drug test. Afterwards, drivers are subject to random drug testing. A driver must not use prescription drugs or drink alcohol within eight hours of being on-duty. Alcohol is prohibited from being in the truck unless it is cargo.

Hours of Service. There are laws in place that limit the number of hours a truck driver can drive before they must pull over and rest. Hours of service depend on the type of truck and materials being carried. However, typically, under California law, an intrastate truck driver may not exceed 12 cumulative hours of driving. After 12 hours, the driver must break for 10 hours. An interstate driver must follow federal law and must break after 11 hours of driving. In addition, truck drivers are required to verify their time logs every 24 hours. The trucking companies are then supposed to inspect the drivers’ time logs to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.

Proper Weight. There are weight limits in place depending on the size of the truck. If a truck is improperly loaded or overloaded, then it could be more difficult to control or stop. If an accident occurs and the truck is overweight, the loading company could be held liable for damages.

Quality Control. Large commercial trucks have manufacturing and repair regulations in place to ensure safety. In California, a truck driver is responsible for making sure their equipment is in good shape at all times. However, if an accident occurs due to a manufacturing or repair defect, then the manufacturer or repairer could be liable for damages incurred too.

Truck accidents can be complicated. If something is off about any of the previously mentioned criteria, then that party could be held liable for damages. An experienced, California truck accident attorney can help you determine who is at fault. If you have been involved in a truck accident, contact the Traffic Accident Law Center today at (760)798-7000 to discuss your situation. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal rights under the law and whether you have a viable case.