California Truck Drivers Held Liable For Negligent Parking
As an Oakland personal injury lawyer, we often see clients who have been seriously injured in truck accident collisions. Two new legal cases involving truck accidents illustrate the duty of care that professional truck drivers owe to the motoring public. Both cases involve accidents where the truck drivers negligently parked their vehicles causing serious personal injuries and death.
In the case of Cabral v Ralphs Grocery Company, the California Supreme Court recently ruled that a truck driver can be held responsible for personal injuries he causes by negligently parking his truck on the side of a freeway. The case involves a motorist who was driving down Highway 10 when he lost control of his vehicle and slammed into the rear of a tractor trailer parked on the side of the roadway. The driver of the truck had stopped on the side of the highway to have his lunch. He was parked in an emergency only parking area.
The driver of the vehicle died in the collision. His family then brought the subject wrongful death case against Ralphs Grocery Company alleging that the truck driver was negligent in the manner in which he parked his truck on the side of the road. The wrongful death case went all the way to trial and the jury found that the driver was 90% at fault and the truck driver 10% at fault in causing the accident. Ralphs Grocery then appealed from the judgment against it.
Ralphs Grocery, which employed the driver, argued that it owed no duty of care to the decedent driver. Another words, Ralphs tried to argue that it could park its trucks wherever it wanted without any repercussions. The Supreme Court felt otherwise. It held that a truck driver must use reasonable care in choosing when and where to stop alongside of a freeway. In doing so, it upheld a jury verdict in favor of the family of the decedent.
In another recent truck accident case, the California Appellate Court, Fourth District, ruled that a professional truck driver can be legally responsible for personal injuries caused by the way a truck driver parks its tractor trailer, even if the truck is legally parked. In the case of Lawson v Safeway, the truck driver in question parked his tractor trailer near an intersection in a legal parking spot. The manner in which he parked the truck however interfered with the vision of drivers who were approaching the intersection. As a result, a motorist pulled up to the intersection but could not see an approaching motorcyclist because the truck obscured his view of oncoming traffic. Due to his obstructed line of site, he collided with the motorcyclist causing him severe personal injuries. In that case, the jury found that the Safeway truck driver was 35% responsible for the damages caused to the motorcyclist.
The general rule followed in these both of these truck accident cases is clear. All drivers have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of others in the operation of their trucks. In these two cases, the juries found that the truck drivers acted unreasonably in the manner in which they parked their large vehicles. In one case, the tractor trailer was an unnecessary obstruction on the side of the highway. In the other case, the trailer was an unsafe sight obstruction along the side of the road. Where truck drivers park or operate their large tractor trailers in an unreasonably unsafe manner, the law will hold them responsible for personal injuries and wrongful deaths caused by that conduct.