How Do Trucking Companies Avoid Responsibility for a Crash?

Large commercial trucks are an integral part of our nation’s supply chain, particularly in California, where 30% of the country’s imports move through the state’s ports. As much as we rely on the goods and services brought to our communities by large commercial trucks, when these immense, unwieldy vehicles congest the roadways, the result is a significant number of catastrophic commercial truck accidents with serious injuries. Around 168,000 large truck accidents occur in the United States annually, 32% resulting in injuries, and 3% causing fatalities.

Victims of truck accidents caused through no fault of their own deserve compensation and financial accountability. Sadly, trucking companies and their powerful insurers commonly dispute accident claims, shift blame, and delay action to avoid liability after an accident. It’s important to know these common tactics to avoid these common pitfalls.

Eluding Liability After a Truck Accident

One of the most common ways trucking companies attempt to dodge liability for a truck accident is by shifting the blame to other entities. In fault-based insurance states like California, the party at fault for an accident is liable for the victim’s damages, like medical expenses, lost income, and compensation for pain and suffering. In truck accidents, there are multiple parties that could be at fault or share liability.  The trucking company may point a finger at a freight loading company or the manufacturer of a defective trailer part. The freight-loading company may claim the driver is at fault for failing to check that the load was secure.

It typically requires an in-depth investigation to determine fault for a trucking accident and document clear compelling evidence of liability against one or multiple at-fault entities.

Hiring Independent Contractors Instead of Direct Employees

Many large trucking companies use independent contractors or drivers who own their own trucks to carry freight rather than hiring drivers as employees. This creates a buffer between the trucking company and direct liability in an accident, similar to the way rideshare companies avoid liability for Uber and Lyft accidents. Even if the trucking companies inaccurate driving logs or poor training standards caused the accident, they can shift liability away from themselves and to the independent contractor.

Falsifying Logs and Destroying Evidence

It’s critical to send a preservation of evidence letter to a trucking company immediately after an accident so the company does not attempt to destroy, hide, or alter evidence. A driver’s hour log, a truck’s maintenance records, or the digitally recorded information from the black box in the truck cab all become essential evidence. Unfortunately, trucking companies sometimes destroy this evidence to save themselves from liability in an expensive truck accident claim.

Assigning a Portion of Fault to the Injury Victim

Under California’s pure comparison negligence insurance laws, each party involved in an accident is given a percentage of fault. An injury victim can recover a portion of the compensation for their damages even if their actions contributed to the accident. The compensation they recover will be minus their percentage of fault. For example, if a truck driver makes an unsafe lane change and causes an accident with a passenger car, but the driver of the car didn’t have their headlights on and it was dusk, the trucking company’s insurer could assign the driver 50% of the fault. This reduces a $100,000 claim to $50,000.

This insurance system incentivizes insurers to assign fault to injury victims to lower the amount they have to pay out on a claim.

How Can a Truck Accident Attorney Help?

After a truck accident, injury victims need experienced truck accident representation throughout the process of their claim. An attorney defends clients against common methods trucking companies use to duck responsibility and avoid liability for damages. Call the attorneys at Younglove Law Firm today for skilled legal counsel to protect your best interests.

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