How is Fault Determined In a Delivery Truck Accident?

December 9, 2021 Posted In Truck Accidents

To recover compensation after an accident with a delivery truck, you will have to prove the driver was at fault. Even if there seems to be irrefutable evidence on who caused the collision, the driver’s or their company’s insurance company will still investigate and consider a number of factors before determining who is liable.  

Negligence 

Before discussing how an insurance company or the courts decide fault for an accident, one crucial element to understand is the legal principle of “negligence.” A percentage of fault will be assigned to each party for their failure to exercise “duty of care.” Essentially, whichever party was more careless will hold the majority of fault. 

How an Insurance Company Determines Fault

To figure out which party’s negligence contributed to the accident and assign a percentage of fault, an adjuster will review the following: 

Accident Scene Evidence

The adjuster will look at any available photos and video of the accident scene that shows: 

  • The location of damage to the vehicles 
  • The final position of the vehicles after impact
  • Property damage to the surrounding area
  • Road and weather conditions
  • Skid marks
  • Road signs and/or traffic lights 
  • The injuries
  • Any available surveillance footage 

They will also typically examine the damaged vehicles in person. 

The Police Report

A police report carries a lot of weight in an adjuster’s decision on fault. The officer will include:  

  • The final positioning of the cars
  • The location and extent of damage to the vehicles 
  • Whether airbags were deployed
  • If there are skid marks on the road from attempts to brake
  • Statements from drivers
  • Interviews with witnesses 
  • Whether either car was malfunctioning
  • Video they viewed that show the accident
  • Whether either driver appeared intoxicated
  • Traffic violations

The officer will also give their opinion on how the accident occurred and who was at fault. A traffic violation or if one party is charged with a crime (e.g., driving while intoxicated) can serve as significant evidence of fault that will be difficult for the at-fault party to challenge.

Eyewitness Statements

Statements from eyewitnesses can provide an objective, third-party account of how the accident happened. Since the parties involved in a crash can be biased, eyewitnesses can strengthen a party’s version of events.

Medical Records

Medical documentation can establish the extent of injuries and that they occurred due to the accident. The site of the injuries may also help an adjuster substantiate where the location of impact was in the collision.                                                                                                             

Was the Delivery Truck Driver Working?

Employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees under California law; therefore, whether the delivery truck driver was working or not can play a prominent role in which party can be held liable for the accident. 

If you carry collision or comprehensive coverage, you can file a claim with your auto insurance company. They will then determine who is at fault and which insurer to seek reimbursement from for the collision through a process known as “subrogation.” On the other hand, if you only carry liability coverage, you will have to file a claim with either the delivery truck driver’s auto insurer or their company’s.  

How the Court Decides Fault

If you disagree with the insurance company’s determination of fault, you have the right to appeal or file a personal injury lawsuit. Most injury claims settle before trial, but you may need to hire an attorney to ensure you recover fair compensation. If your case does make it to court, a judge or jury will determine who is at fault after hearing each side’s argument and reviewing the evidence. 

Speak to an Attorney

Our Riverside Delivery Truck Accident Lawyer can help you sort through the specific facts in your case to help you determine fault after a crash. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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