Determining liability in a delivery truck accident in Walnut Creek involves a lot of work. First, we need to identify the roles played by the different parties involved in the accident. Next, we need to use that information to decide which type of liability claim to pursue. Finally, we need to apply legal principles to back up those claims.

Addressing Negligence

The first step in determining liability in most delivery truck accidents is establishing negligence—that is, a failure to behave with reasonable care given the circumstances. Generally speaking, there are four elements of negligence:

  1. Duty: A driver had a duty of care to others on the road.
  2. Breach: The driver breached that duty through their actions or inaction.
  3. Causation: The breach caused an accident.
  4. Damages: The accident resulted in damages (medical expenses, lost wages, etc.).

For example, let’s say a delivery driver runs a red light and strikes a pedestrian. It was their duty to stop at the red light, but they breached that duty by not stopping. Hitting the pedestrian was a direct result of their failure to stop, and the pedestrian suffered an injury as a result. In this scenario, the delivery driver was negligent.

Comparative Fault

We also need to consider that California is a comparative fault state. Comparative fault means that if multiple parties are at fault for an injury, they’re each liable for their degree of fault.

For example, let’s assume that the pedestrian in the above example had entered the crosswalk before the indicator allowed them to do so. In this case, the pedestrian might be found to be partially to blame for their own injuries. Whatever percentage of fault a court assessed them would reduce their award in kind. So, if they were 20% to blame for an accident that cost them $100,000, they could recover $80,000 in damages.

Employer Liability

Vicarious liability, also called respondeat superior, means an employer is liable for the actions of their employees. California considers the possibility that an employee may injure someone a risk of doing business. Because of this, the employer may be liable for injuries caused by a delivery driver.

It’s also possible that the employer could be directly liable due to negligent hiring, training, and supervision. This is when the employer knew or should have known that the employee was a risk to others. For example, if a delivery driver has a suspended driver’s license and is still working, that could show negligence on the employer’s part.

Lastly, California’s employer liability treats independent contractors differently than employees. However, an employer could still be liable if they exercise significant control over the contractors.

Third-Party Liability

Sometimes, a third party may be liable in the event of an accident. The most common example of third-party liability is product liability. If a part of the delivery truck fails and that’s what caused the accident, the manufacturer or maintenance provider may be liable.

Another type of third-party liability is government liability. If poorly maintained roads caused the accident, the government may be liable since it is responsible for road maintenance. However, suing the government involves specific steps and comes with additional limitations.

What to Do After a Delivery Truck Accident

First, seek medical attention if you have not done so already. Next, start gathering any evidence you can. This includes getting a police report, witness statements and contact info, and traffic camera footage. An experienced car accident attorney can help with this process. They can recover evidence that might be difficult for you to collect on your own and then use it to build a strong case on your behalf.

Contact Our Walnut Creek Delivery Truck Accident Lawyers

If you’ve been injured in a delivery truck accident, the lawyers of Casper, Meadows, Schwartz, & Cook can help. We have extensive experience gathering evidence for vehicle collision claims and can help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact our office today for a free consultation of your case.