If I file a lawsuit for a truck accident, will I be suing the driver or the company?

The legal advice and guidance of an experienced truck accident lawyer are essential if you are in a crash with a semi. 

The size of commercial vehicles alone means accidents usually result in serious injuries. You may pursue a wrongful death suit if you lost a family member. You must ensure you can get the maximum compensation for your case to cover all your medical bills and future expenses.

Unlike in a car accident, a semi-truck driver may not own the vehicle. Many parties could be liable for the accident. Who do you sue for personal injury or wrongful death in a truck accident case?

Are Truck Drivers Liable for an Accident?

The driver of the large truck very well may be liable due to negligence. If they were engaging in any behavior that violated their duty of care and caused the motor vehicle accident, you could prove this in court. This behavior could include the following:

  • Driving while fatigued.
  • Driving without proper training.
  • Speeding, failure to obey traffic signs, and reckless driving.

If you seek damages from the truck driver, you are suing for payment from their insurance company, not them personally. You deserve compensation for your injuries; insurance is there for that purpose. You do not need to feel bad about holding the other motorist responsible for their actions, as they usually do not pay out of pocket.

What if they don’t have insurance coverage or their policy is insufficient? For your severe injuries, involving their employer’s insurance companies might be necessary to be appropriately compensated for your disfigurement and suffering.

How Do You Sue a Trucking Company?

California allows for vicarious liability, so you can seek payment from multiple parties if you can prove they had some responsibility for the accident. The trucker may be one of many options you have for legal action.

Depending on the cause of the accident, the trucking company could also be involved, as could the truck owner or manufacturer. Some examples of multiple-party liability include:

  • The company’s negligent hiring of a commercial driver with a poor driving record or inadequate training.
  • The trucking company or owner didn’t catch a mechanical failure during inspection or cut corners during maintenance. 
  • Product liability cases, where the manufacturer or distributor of the faulty truck parts handles a mechanical failure causing the accident.
  • Improper placement of materials in the back unbalanced the tractor-trailer, which the trucking company‘s loading crew handled.
  • Driver fatigue was the cause of the accident, but the trucking company ignored labor laws and pushed them to meet deadlines without proper rest.

Respondeat superior applies in California, which means you can sue an employer for damages caused by an employee while doing their job. This principle aims to:

  1. Prevent future accidents.
  2. Ensure victims receive proper compensation.
  3. Make larger entities take responsibility for covering damages when the risk of an accident is part of the job. 

In the case of severe accident injuries, you may sue a trucking company, as their insurance can afford a much higher payout than an individual driver’s policy.

Is the Truck Driver an Independent Contractor?

Trucking companies have often used truck owner-operators as drivers, calling them independent contractors to avoid responsibility for their actions. Doing so has shielded the larger company from litigation for driver-caused accidents.

California’s AB5 law means that as of 2020, companies must now treat drivers as employees if:

  • The driver is responsible to the hiring entity for their performance. 
  • The driver is doing a job that falls under the company’s wheelhouse.
  • The trucker doesn’t have their own existing transporting business.

Law AB5 is opening up trucking companies to scrutiny. Many commercial truck drivers in California are owner-operators and have protested against this law, as it affects their earning potential. Despite the trucking industry taking this legislation to the Supreme Court, there is no longer a trucking exception.

Trucking companies operating in the state must provide insurance for the drivers considered employees. This fact doesn’t make winning compensation any easier. 

For all the advantages of pursuing a personal injury claim against the trucking company, there are drawbacks. Larger companies mean more than just deeper pockets, but more aggressive insurers and attorneys. Insurance providers for these companies will try to settle as quickly as possible to avoid negative publicity. They may pressure accident victims to accept a low offer.

A San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

The complicated rules surrounding liability and negligence mean you should only attempt to pursue your personal injury case with the help of an experienced law firm.

You will need to determine the cause of the truck crash to determine liability; witnesses and accident experts are helpful. Accident re-creation specialists can provide evidence of negligence being the cause. A truck accident attorney from Mova Law Group can provide these experts, and they will assist with gathering evidence.

At an initial free consultation, one of our experienced personal injury attorneys will review the facts of your truck accident claim with you to determine its viability. During this free case review, our truck accident lawyers will direct you to the most appropriate liable parties for financial compensation.

Your losses in a truck accident are no doubt substantial. Mova Law Group’s personal injury lawyers can help you get the most compensation from all those responsible. We offer a free case evaluation to begin and then take cases on a contingency basis. You only pay us once we get you the settlement you deserve. Contact us today for support in your personal injury case.



-State of California Department of Industrial Relations

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