Car crashes are harrowing experiences, but those involving commercial tractor trailers are even more terrifying. Compared to typical passenger vehicles, truck crashes statistically tend to lead to more costly and deadly accidents. To drive an 18-wheeler, you need special certifications. Obtaining a commercial driver’s license in California also (and understandably) entails extensive safety training.


Big rig drivers should follow safe practices at all times, so if you or a loved one experienced an accident involving a commercial vehicle, you probably want to know who, if anyone, is legally responsible for damages, medical bills and your lost productivity.


In any personal injury case, the plaintiff must prove that someone’s negligence or carelessness indirectly or directly caused harm. Depending on the nature of the truck accident, interestingly, the driver may not be the only party responsible.


Proving Liability in a Big Rig Accident


To file a successful claim damages, you must prove the other party owed you a duty of care, failed to fulfill that duty, and thus indirectly or directly caused your injuries. Tractor trailer accidents happen for a number of reasons, and they are not always solely the driver’s fault. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Clear driver negligence or carelessness, including distracted driving, driving under the influence, rushing to meet delivery deadlines or traveling while too tired to safely operate a vehicle. In such a case, the driver (and his/her insurance company) could be to blame. The company that hired the driver and failed to vet or train him or her could also be held responsible for damages.
  • Defective trucking hardware or improper maintenance. In this type of case, the trucking company, maintenance team or manufacturer or designer of truck part components could be liable.
  • Unbalanced loads or other cargo-related problems. In this case, the company and team that loaded the cargo or established protocols for loading or shipping could be to blame.
  • Bad road conditions, such as poor signage or unclear lane paint, could be to blame. The government agency responsible for upkeeping safe roads could be called to task.


As you can see from this list, the truck driver may not be completely at fault, even if he or she superficially seemed to be solely responsible. There’s often more to these cases than meets the eye, and only a detailed forensic investigation can answer critical questions about fault.

Seek Competent Counsel

California follows a comparative negligence law, meaning all parties involved in an accident may claim damages based on their level of fault in a collision. If you drove unsafely near a big rig, talked on a cellphone, drove distractedly or otherwise contributed to the incident, the defense could argue that you partially were at fault and thus reduce your compensation.

Big rig accidents can become complicated legal cases, so trust an experienced attorney who knows how to effectively manage these serious claims and maximize your compensation. Contact us for a free, no obligation consultation about your rights today.