Fireball SUV-Large Truck Crash Kills One
Witnesses said an SUV burst into flame when it was caught under a semi-truck’s trailer as that driver tried to change lanes.
The wreck happened in San Jose, on northbound U.S. Highway 101 near the Highway 85 interchange. According to the California Highway Patrol, a big rig driver was either changing lanes or attempting to move onto the shoulder when it literally ran over an SUV. The SUV driver did not survive the wreck.
No other details were available.
First Party Liability in Large Truck Accidents
To establish liability for damages, a San Jose personal injury attorney must prove negligence, or a lack of care, by a preponderance of the evidence, or more likely than not. Basically two negligence theories are available in most large truck crash claims.
Ordinary negligence is a lack of ordinary care. Most noncommercial motorists have a duty of reasonable care. This responsibility requires them to drive defensively and avoid accidents if possible.
In California, truck drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and other such commercial operators are common carriers. These individuals have a duty of utmost care. That’s considerably higher than a duty of reasonable care.
Driving in poor environmental conditions, such as high wind or heavy rain, illustrates the difference between these two duties. The duty of reasonable care requires motorists to slow down and drive more carefully in these situations. Arguably, the duty of utmost care requires motorists to pull over and wait for conditions to improve.
That reaction might cause the commercial driver to miss a deadline or suffer other adverse consequences. But safety takes priority over making money.
The negligence per se doctrine is also available in many truck crash claims. If a traffic or other safety law sets the standard of care, the tortfeasor (negligent driver) could be liable for damages as a matter of law if:
- S/he violates a safety law, and
- That infraction substantially causes injury.
Damages in a vehicle collision claim usually include compensation for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering.
Third Party Liability
Negligent drivers are legally responsible for the aforementioned damages. Frequently, a third party is financially responsible for them. Vicarious liability is especially important in catastrophic injury claims, like the one in the above story. Frequently, individual tortfeasors don’t have enough insurance to provide fair compensation in these situations.
Large truck wrecks usually involve the respondeat superior doctrine. The shipping company, transportation company, or other entity which owned the truck might be financially responsible for damages if:
- Employee: Even if the driver was an owner-operator or independent contractor for most purposes, the driver is usually an employee for negligence purposes. The employee label applies if the company asserted any significant control over the trip, such as designating the route or setting a deadline.
- Scope of Employment: California law also defines this respondeat superior prong very broadly. Any act which benefits the employer in any way is usually within the scope of employment. That could include something like driving an empty truck to a loading dock.
Other employer third party liability theories, which frequently apply in assault or other intentional tort claims, include negligent hiring and negligent supervision.
Count on a Dedicated Santa Clara County Lawyer
Large truck wreck legal claims are quite complex. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose truck accident lawyer, contact Solution Now Law Firm. You have a limited amount of time to act.