Operating an 18-wheeler is not the same as driving a standard passenger vehicle. Big rigs have larger blind spots and require a longer stopping distance. Truckers also need to take wider angles when turning, and they must adjust their driving to the weight and distribution of any cargo they’re transporting. There are also different laws that govern the operation of commercial vehicles.
Motor carriers have a duty to ensure all drivers under their employees receive adequate training. Without this training, a trucker may not be able to anticipate common accident scenarios or respond appropriately to hazardous situations. This can put all the drivers and pedestrians around them at risk of serious and potentially fatal injuries.
If you were hurt or lost a family member in a truck accident that was caused by a driver who had not been properly trained, there are several parties who might be liable for the resulting damages; however, proving that a lack of training was a proximate cause of the crash can be challenging. Also, you can expect the motor carrier and their insurance company to resist your claim at every turn.
A seasoned truck accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and fight for a fair settlement or verdict. During your first meeting with an attorney, you will have an opportunity to ask questions about the relevant laws, proceedings, and your case in particular. Below we’ve provided the answers to some frequently asked questions about these claims:
1. Who Might Be Liable for a Truck Accident Caused by Inadequate Driver Training?
California courts recognize the doctrine of joint and several liability. That means if multiple defendants are named in your claim but one defendant does not have the insurance coverage or assets to pay for their share of the economic damages, you have the right to pursue the difference from the other defendants. As such, it is strategically advisable to name all potentially liable parties in your claim.
When a truck accident is caused by a lack of driver training, there are several parties who may be partially or entirely liable. For example, if the trucker was an independent contractor, he or she might be liable for the resulting damages. If the trucker was an employee of the motor carrier, then his or her employer might be vicariously liable pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior. The motor carrier may also be liable if its hiring and training procedures were insufficient—i.e. if it hired drivers who had a history of reckless operation or if its training procedures did not adequately prepare drivers for reasonably foreseeable accident scenarios.
Some motor carriers contract out their driver training to third parties. In this scenario, the contractor might be liable if it is determined that their training procedures were inadequate.
2. How Can I Prove Inadequate Driver Training Contributed to the Accident?
There are several elements that must be proven in order to prevail in a truck accident claim that involves a lack of driver training. Two of those elements are “negligence” and “causation.”
To establish negligence, your lawyer will have to prove that the defendant breached the duty of care owed to you (or to your deceased loved one in the case of wrongful death). Specifically, your attorney will have to demonstrate that the motor carrier or the contractor hired to train its drivers did not provide sufficient training to the driver who caused the accident. To establish causation, your lawyer will have to prove that the defendant’s negligence was a proximate cause of the accident.
Below are a few types of evidence your attorney might use to prove negligence and causation:
- Documentation of the Defendant’s Driver Training Procedures: Your lawyer will want to review any training documents the truck driver received, as well as any documentation of hands-on training the driver underwent. Your attorney can file subpoenas to obtain such documents if they are withheld by the defendant.
- Deposition of the Truck Driver: The at-fault trucker may be deposed about the training that he or she received.
- Percipient Witness Deposition: Any other drivers who were trained by the same motor carrier or training contractor might be deposed. Your lawyer might also depose staff members of the motor carrier or training contractor, as well as people who saw the accident take place.
- The Police Report: To strengthen your case, your attorney will want to prove that the accident scenario was reasonably foreseeable and, therefore, the driver should have been trained to avoid or to mitigate such a scenario. The police report should provide details about how the accident occurred.
- Black Box Data: The truck’s black box data might be used to prove that the trucker was exhibiting negligent behavior just prior to the accident.
- Photos and Videos: Pictures and videos of the scene and the resulting property damage might help your attorney and an accident reconstruction expert discern how the crash happened. If a dash cam or surveillance system recorded the collision, its footage might serve as valuable evidence of negligence and causation.
- Expert Witness Deposition: There are several experts who might be deposed by your attorney in order to prove negligence and causation. Examples include an accident reconstruction expert and an expert in commercial driver training procedures.
3. What Kinds of Damages Might Be Included in the Settlement Calculations?
Victims of serious personal injury have the right to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages, which may include:
- Past and future healthcare expenses;
- Lost wages, benefits, and future income;
- Property repairs or replacement;
- Other economic damages;
- Emotional distress;
- Hedonic damages; and
- Pain and suffering.
If the defendant’s behavior was particularly egregious, punitive damages may also be available. And if the spouse of the injured party has suffered a loss of society, moral support, protection, intimacy, comfort, love, companionship, or care, he or she might be able to bring a loss of consortium claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Truck Accident Attorney in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Proving that a lack of driver training contributed to your accident will require a thorough investigation. It may be necessary to apply legal pressure to obtain evidence that is in the defendant’s possession. Attorney Michael D. Waks knows what it takes to win substantial settlements and verdicts in these cases. He will aggressively represent you and your family through every stage of the proceedings. For a free case review, call (562) 206-1939 or send us a message on our Contact Page.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF
A serious auto accident can happen at any time. Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF can serve as your handy guide to help you gather the evidence needed to build a strong claim. Download it HERE and store it in your glovebox.
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