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What Parties May Be Liable in a Truck Accident?

September 21, 2023 Alan Ahdoot
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Truck accidents are alarmingly frequent in the U.S., posing a greater risk of severe injuries and fatalities compared to typical car crashes, due to the immense size and weight of these vehicles. But, who is liable in a truck accident?

If you’ve been harmed as a result of a negligent truck driver, you might be eligible for compensation covering your injuries, lost income, and property damage.

Discover how to identify the responsible parties in a California truck accident and explore the pertinent state laws regarding such accidents in this blog.

Who is Liable in a Truck Accident?

Commercial truck accidents differ from typical car accidents in that they frequently involve truck drivers hired by trucking companies. In some instances, both the truck driver and the carrier may share legal liabilities for the accident.

Establishing liability involves a comprehensive investigation by authorities to ascertain the collision’s cause. Depending on the accident’s severity and the evidence collected, one or more parties can anticipate being held responsible for the crash.

Below are some of the possible liable parties in a truck accident:

Truck Driver

The primary cause of most large truck accidents lies in the negligence of the truck driver. Furthermore, truckers often engage in speeding, particularly during nighttime when traffic is lighter. Fatigue, stemming from sleepiness or exhaustion, represents a significant contributing factor to these devastating accidents.

In addition, truck drivers bear the responsibility of inspecting their vehicles. When issues such as maintenance problems or cargo shifts occur, the trucker may be held accountable for the resulting collision.


Trucking companies bear the responsibility of hiring drivers, and when they employ negligent ones, it can lead to accidents. In certain cases, carriers attempt to reduce expenses by neglecting vehicle maintenance and inspections. 

Moreover, they are tasked with ensuring secure cargo transportation, and when carriers ship goods to other companies, they could be held liable for a truck accident caused by improper cargo loading practices.

Contractors and Third-Party Vendors

Numerous carriers subcontract administrative, repair, maintenance, and dispatch functions and rely on third-party vendors to source truck cargo shipments. Shortcomings related to vehicle issues preceding an accident can often be attributed to the subcontractors involved in these tasks.

Manufacturer of the Truck and Parts

Maintenance-related issues like brake failures and tire blowouts can potentially hold both the manufacturer and distributor accountable. 

Truck manufacturers and parts suppliers bear legal responsibility for ensuring the safety and efficiency of their vehicles. If a crash results from a defective part, manufacturers may be liable for covering the resulting injuries and vehicle damages.

Government Agencies

Broken pavements and other roadway hazards can contribute to truck collisions. In such cases, the local or state government covering that part of the road may be held liable. 

Moreover, negligent contractors hired by the government who failed to resolve the road hazards may also be at fault.

How to Determine Liability in a Truck Accident?

Broken pavements and other roadway hazards often play a role in truck collisions. In such cases, the local or state government responsible for that road segment may bear liability. 

Additionally, negligent contractors hired by the government, who failed to address these road hazards, may also share responsibility for the accident.

a truck driving on the expressway
Several parties may carry responsibility other than the truck driver after an accident.

California is not a no-fault state. Instead, the state follows a “pure comparative negligence” system. Every at-fault party is liable for the damages, depending on their percentage of fault. 

The court will decide on the compensation based on the extent to which the parties are liable for the truck accident. Demonstrating negligence in truck collisions is based on three elements, such as:

  • Breaching the duty of care
  • Causing vehicle damage or other losses
  • Owing the victim a duty of care

According to California’s strict liability law, the claims will also depend on defective truck parts, including brakes, tires, cargo ties, engine parts, and accelerator pedals.

Truck Accident Laws

Truck accidents fall under the purview of federal and state laws, and the liable parties may face significant penalties or even imprisonment, depending on the accident’s gravity.

Federal Trucking Laws

Federal regulations dictate that commercial vehicle drivers can operate for a maximum of 14 consecutive hours, with a cap of 11 driving hours. 

Before starting a new shift, drivers must have at least 10 hours of off-duty time. Regardless of daily operations, drivers are prohibited from driving after accumulating 60 to 70 hours of work over eight consecutive days. 

Additionally, truckers are required to log their driving activities before and after each shift.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) oversee trucking at the federal level. These agencies collaborate to establish safety standards, aiming to prevent injuries and fatalities in commercial vehicle accidents. 

Consequently, carriers must adhere to specific regulations concerning truck weight, equipment, and insurance coverage for transported materials.

State Trucking Laws

In addition to federal regulations, state laws impose speed limits and rest requirements on commercial truckers. Like many other states, California has its set of trucking laws covering vehicle inspections, driver licensing, and maintenance. 

In California, drivers must refrain from driving for 10 hours after being on the road for 16 consecutive hours. Furthermore, all commercial vehicles must be equipped with safety items such as fire extinguishers and red emergency reflectors, complying with United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration standards.

Seeking Compensation for Your Truck Accident Injuries

If you can establish the liability of multiple parties in a truck accident, you may file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for damages. The claiming process may require you to submit documents or complete online forms, depending on the insurance company’s procedures. 

Engaging a personal injury attorney from Adamson Ahdoot is advisable as they can assist you in filing claims and negotiating settlements effectively.

Contact an Expert California Truck Accident Attorney

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, let our team at Adamson Ahdoot help you fight to receive the compensation you deserve. Our experienced personal injury attorneys are composed of trucking accident lawyers who can pursue your case for recovery.

Adamson Ahdoot has a proven track record of providing clients with top legal representation in California. Call us at (800) 310-1606 today to schedule your free consultation with a premier injury attorney.

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Our team can better advise you on your legal options once we receive any available evidence about the incident.

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