Navigating the aftermath of a tragic trucking accident, especially one that results in the wrongful death of a loved one, is an overwhelming and heart-wrenching task. Survivors and families are left to grapple with the devastating consequences of a sudden and heartbreaking loss.
In California, where the trucking industry plays a major part in the state’s economic backbone, regular drivers and motorists in Los Angeles and the Central Valley feel the dangers the most. But California law is designed to ensure safety and accountability on the roads, which is critical when an accident results in the unthinkable – the wrongful death of a loved one.
The aftermath of a fatal truck accident is filled with questions and uncertainties. What rights do you have as a victim’s survivor? Who can be held responsible? How can justice be served when a precious life has been unfairly cut short? Trucking companies and their insurance companies would rather avoid accountability, but California’s wrongful death laws empower you to uncover who’s at fault and hold them liable for their negligence.
Trucking Safety Laws and Violations
Trucking companies across the country operate under a complex web of safety regulations designed to protect everyone on the road. These laws are especially stringent in California, where specific rules exist to reduce the risk and impact of trucking accidents.
On a federal level, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set standards for licensing, truck maintenance, driver work hours, and substance testing. California’s Department of Transportation (CalTrans) applies additional rules, especially regarding environmental standards and road safety.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for trucking companies and owner-operators to violate these laws, especially when profits and strict deadlines are involved. Violations can range from overloading trucks or failing to maintain vehicles properly to allowing or even encouraging drivers to operate without taking their legally required rest breaks.
What Is Wrongful Death in a Trucking Accident?
In the legal world, a wrongful death happens when someone loses their life because of someone else’s negligence or misconduct – in this case, a trucking company or driver.
Negligence is the cornerstone of a wrongful death claim in truck accident cases. A truck driver or the company they work for could be negligent if they fail to take the proper amount of care under the circumstances. For example, a driver who continues driving under fatigue, a company failing to train its employees adequately, or management ignoring necessary vehicle maintenance to cut down on expenses.
A wrongful death could have been avoided if the person responsible had taken the proper care.
For families, a wrongful death is not just a legal term – it’s a devastating loss. The emotional and financial toll is impossible to overstate, with families losing not only a loved one but in many cases a caregiver and source of support. California law recognizes these losses and allows survivors to recover compensation, including medical expenses incurred before death, funeral costs, lost future earnings, and the loss of companionship and support.
In addition to a wrongful death claim, family members who lose loved ones in trucking accidents can also file a survivor’s claim under California law. This way, both the interests of the victim and their family members can be compensated.
When Are Trucking Companies Responsible for Wrongful Death?
Truck accident cases can get complicated because of the many parties who could be at fault. Even when a truck driver is the one at the wheel when an accident happens, the trucking company they work for can still be held responsible for the actions of its employees. If the fault belongs to a defective part, the manufacturer or maintenance provider could also be liable.
- Direct Liability – When a trucking company’s own negligence causes an accident, it could be because of poor maintenance practices, a failure to follow safety regulations, or inadequate training or supervision of drivers. In these cases, the trucking company is directly at fault for the conditions that led to the accident.
- Vicarious Liability – Under the law, employers are responsible for the actions of their employees while they’re actively carrying out the duties of their job. So if a truck driver causes an accident while they’re driving for work, even if the trucking company did everything else right, they could still be responsible for the driver’s actions.
- Third-Party Liability – If the driver and the trucking company did everything right, another third party could be responsible for the crash. This could be a manufacturer of defective parts or a negligent maintenance provider who didn’t take the proper care.
Establishing liability requires a thorough investigation, ideally led by a wrongful death attorney who is experienced in handling trucking accident cases specifically. The discovery process may involve reviewing the truck driver’s logs, truck maintenance records, and the trucking company’s safety record, and gathering evidence from the accident scene. Expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction specialists, can also play a crucial role in getting a proper settlement.
When it comes to wrongful death cases, the stakes can get very high. The damages you and your family have suffered could total millions of dollars – not just to compensate you for your losses but to also punish the people responsible for their negligent and harmful behavior.
The road to justice following a wrongful death in a trucking accident is undoubtedly challenging, but you don’t have to walk the path alone. If you find yourself facing this tragic situation in California, remember that an experienced truck accident lawyer can help guide and support you.
A good lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of your wrongful death case, ensure that the people responsible are held accountable, and work to secure the compensation you deserve for your unimaginable loss. At Sepulveda Sanchez Law, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay us legal fees until we recover damages for you. Contact us now to get started on your case and get the support you need to move forward.