Determining liability in a tractor-trailer accident can be complicated, particularly one involving a co-driver. In the trucking industry, it is not uncommon for a pair of drivers to operate a big rig, a lead driver and another who takes the wheel to relieve the first driver. Although the driver behind the wheel at the time of a collision is largely responsible for his or her actions, both drivers may be held liable for injuries arising from an accident. The best way to protect your rights after a co-driver accident is to consult an experienced truck accident attorney.
At J&Y Law Firm, we are committed to holding responsible parties accountable for truck accidents in California, including truck drivers, co-drivers, and trucking companies. Our legal team has the knowledge and skill to determine the causes of co-driver accidents and a proven history of helping our clients obtain the compensation they deserve. When you work with us, you can rest assured we will never stop fighting for you.
Proving Negligence After a Truck Accident
To prevail in a truck accident claim, it is necessary to demonstrate the four elements of negligence:
- The defendant (driver, co-driver, or trucking company) owed the plaintiff a duty to exercise a reasonable degree of care to avoid causing injury to others
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care
- The defendant’s breach caused the accident
- The plaintiff sustained damages (e.g. injuries) as a result of the accident
While this seems straightforward, proving negligence in a co-driver accident is more difficult than a truck accident involving only one truck driver. First, it is necessary to determine which driver was behind the wheel by reviewing the hours of service log. It is also necessary to determine whether the co-driver was in the passenger seat or the sleeper berth at the time of the accident.
For all intents and purposes, a co-driver who was in a sleeper berth cannot be held liable for an accident. In fact, co-drivers are also at a high risk of injury while resting in a sleeper berth during a truck accident. If you are a trucker and have been injured in a truck accident while you weren’t behind the wheel, you have a right to file a lawsuit to obtain compensation.
Who is liable in a co-driver truck accident?
While the driver has a duty of care to avoid causing injuries, a co-driver is also responsible for the safe operation of a tractor-trailer. To hold a co-driver liable for a truck accident, however, it is necessary to demonstrate that the co-driver was negligent in some manner. If the co-driver is aware of a dangerous condition that makes it difficult for the trucker to control the vehicle, such as driver fatigue, the co-driver should intervene. A co-driver might also be held liable for an accident if he or she knowingly allows the other driver to operate the vehicle intoxicated.
Additionally, a co-driver may also be responsible for contributing to a truck accident by distracting the lead driver through horseplay, playing loud music or attempting to steer from the passenger seat. Moreover, both the lead driver and the co-driver can be held liable for an accident if they were impaired by drugs or alcohol or distracted by using their cell phones. Finally, the truck owner or trucking company can also be held liable for a truck accident if the co-driver was not properly screened or poorly trained, either driver violated federal safety rules, or the truck was not properly maintained and inspected.
Contact our Experienced California Truck Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has been injured in a co-driver truck accident, you are likely concerned about your health and financial future. At J&Y Law Firm, we will address those concerns by providing you with aggressive legal representation and caring, personal service. When you become our client, we will explain all of your rights and help you explore all of your options.
Our experienced attorneys will handle all the details of your claim, from necessary court filings and appearances to negotiations with the insurance company. We will take the stress out of the process so that you can focus on recovering.
Above all, we will help you obtain just compensation which may include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are designed to compensate you for actual financial losses such as lost wages and medical expenses while non-economic damages are intended to cover intangibles like pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. At J&Y, we handle all truck accident claims on a contingency basis. This means that you don’t pay any attorneys’ fees to us until we recover for you. Please contact our office today.