If you are involved in a truck accident, you have the right to seek compensation from at-fault parties, even if you were partly to blame. However, your financial recovery will be limited in proportion to your fault.
Even relatively minor truck accidents can lead to serious injuries and related financial loss. Having skilled Los Angeles truck accident lawyers on your side is the best way to maximize your recovery of damages. A California personal injury attorney at Salamati Law can help you determine who may be at fault for your accident– and the best way to pursue a claim against them.
How Fault Affects a California Truck Accident
Many people believe that an insurance policy will pay for all damages sustained in an accident. However, since California is a fault-based state that requires motorists to carry liability insurance, these policies will only pay when the insured party is liable or legally at fault.
Since insurance companies are liable for their damages that their client’s negligence caused, they often look for signs that the claimant was negligent– so that they can reduce the payout. Insurance representatives and defense lawyers may argue that your case is not worth much and you should settle for less than you deserve. However, when you work with an experienced truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles, they will handle these conversations and advocate for fair compensation.
Apportioning Fault for an Accident
In some cases, fault is clear. If the truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and struck a vehicle in an oncoming lane, there will not be a dispute over liability. However, if both drivers were doing something arguably negligent, they may have conflicting positions on how fault should be apportioned.
A truck driver or another defendant on the trucking company’s side would be more likely to raise partial fault as a defense.
For example, if the driver of the other vehicle contributed to the accident, such as:
- Running a red light
- Texting or engaging in other distractions while driving
- Cutting off the truck
An experienced lawyer will look at all the evidence to determine whether the alleged negligence of their client was truly a contributing factor. This would diminish the truck driver’s responsibility. Even if it did play a role, an injured plaintiff might still pursue their claim.
Who Determines Fault after an Accident
If a lawsuit does go to trial and there is substantial evidence that the plaintiff was negligent, the jury will hear the evidence. They will decide the amount of damages the plaintiff incurred and how much of the fault for the crash each party bears. The judge instructs the jury that damages should be reduced in proportion to any fault of the plaintiff.
For example, consider a case in which the jury finds that the plaintiff’s economic and non-economic losses total $200,000. If the plaintiff had been speeding, making the accident slightly more likely to occur, the jury may find that the plaintiff bore 20% of the fault. In that case, the judgment would be reduced by $40,000– 20% of $200,000– and they would be entitled to recover $160,000.
If the lawsuit is one of many that ends in a voluntary settlement, the parties will reach an agreement about how to apportion the losses. It helps to have a Los Angeles truck accident attorney with strong advocacy skills to represent your interests in these discussions.
Evidence of Fault in a Truck Accident
Your case will be stronger if you begin gathering evidence as soon as possible. Some things that will help include:
- Police report
- Name and contact information for witnesses
- Photographs of the scene, vehicles, and landmarks
- Notes about the accident
Contact Our Team of Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyers
Truck accidents, as a rule, are more complicated. When there are allegations of comparative fault, it is even more essential to choose an experienced firm.
At Salamati Law, we have the skill needed to level the playing field when you go up against trucking industry lawyers. We dedicate our practice to fighting for those who have been harmed by others’ negligence, including trucking companies, vehicle manufacturers, and insurers. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your Southern California case.
- Findlaw, California Civil Code Section 1714, http://codes.findlaw.com/ca/civil-code/civ-sect-1714.html
- Justia, California Civil Jury Instruction (CACI), 405. Comparative Fault of Plaintiff, https://www.justia.com/trials-litigation/docs/caci/400/405.html