Many drivers must travel alongside big rigs and tractor-trailers. When these vehicles are overloaded or improperly loaded, falling debris from the truck can present significant hazards to others on the road. Falling logs or appliances may hit a pedestrian or motorcyclist, directly causing an injury, or tools may strike a car, startling the driver and causing him or her to lose control of the vehicle and harm someone else. At the Sharifi Firm, our truck accident lawyers can help individuals in Los Angeles and the surrounding area pursue the parties responsible for their injuries.Overloaded Big Rigs and Falling Debris
Most often, falling debris is the result of an improperly loaded or overloaded truck. Big rigs must abide by federal regulations if they are driving across state lines and comply with state laws if they drive locally. Among other things, in California, no vehicle or load may exceed a height of 14 feet from the surface upon which the vehicle stands. Transported items should be covered or loaded to prevent them from spilling.
In many cases, a truck driver can be held liable for negligence if debris falls from the vehicle and someone is hurt as a result. If there were any violations of the laws or regulations related to loading trucks, negligence per se may be a useful theory of liability. Negligence per se allows for an inference of negligence when a safety statute or regulation is violated, the violation causes an accident in which someone is injured, and the accident was the type of harm that the statute or regulation was designed to prevent. The driver's employer may also be held indirectly responsible under a theory of vicarious liability for an overloaded or improperly loaded truck.
What if the truck driver was not the only one at fault for the accident? In some cases, the falling debris may strike another car, and that car's driver does not act reasonably under the circumstances because he or she is distracted or otherwise negligent. If someone is injured because of negligence by both the truck driver and a passenger car driver, the jury will be asked whether the actions of each party were a substantial factor in the crash. If this can be shown, the jury can apportion the responsibility between the drivers. A separate finding is made of the plaintiff's total damages.
Under Civil Code section 1431.2(a), the liability for each defendant for non-economic damages is several only, and not joint. This means that a defendant is only liable for an amount of non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, in direct proportion to his or her percentage of fault. However the defendants may be held jointly and severally liable for the plaintiff's economic damages, such as lost income, medical bills, and out-of-pocket expenses.Legal Representation for Injured Residents of San Bernardino
If you are hurt in a motor vehicle collision near San Bernardino or elsewhere in the region, you should consult an experienced attorney. There are numerous laws and regulations that truckers and trucking companies must follow, and it is important to speak with a professional who is familiar with these rules and with how trucking insurers operate. Contact us at 1-866-422-7222 or via our online form for a free, no-obligation consultation. We also represent clients in Rancho Cucamonga, Temecula, and Riverside, among other Southern California communities.