If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a truck accident, speak with a Los Angeles truck accident attorney at Citywide Law Group today. We offer a free consultation and you pay nothing unless you win.
A truck or big rig accident can cause catastrophic damage. Fortunately, California law requires trucking companies to carry large insurance policies. Make sure you get the compensation you deserve.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
An attorney at Citywide Law Group can assist you in several ways. First, we will conduct or own investigation of the accident scene. By doing so, we gain a better understanding of what actually happened.
Second, we interview any witnesses to the accident. By investigating the scene and interviewing witnesses, we can accurately reconstruct the accident scene.
Third, we have you meet with our experienced medical professionals. By doing so, you will have a better understanding of the extent of your injuries.
Next, we begin the settlement process with the negligent party’s insurance company. Please note that trucking companies will have a team of lawyers whose only goal is to minimize your compensation. Level the playing field by having us on your side.
Lastly, if the insurance company will not agree to a reasonable settlement, we are prepared to go to trial to get you the money you deserve.
Statute of Limitations in Truck Accident Cases
Like most accidents, California Civil Code 335.1 applies to trucking accidents. As such, you only have two-years from the date of the collision to bring a suit against the negligent part.
Truck accidents can be complex. As such, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that they can investigate your case.
Establishing Liability After a Truck Accident
The question of liability is nearly always much more complex in a trucking accident than in a car accident. A semi-truck accident often involves more people than just the drivers. An experienced personal injury attorney will determine who can be held liable for your injuries.
Holding all responsible parties liable can greatly increase the amount of compensation you receive.
The list of potentially liable parties include:
- Truck Driver: The truck driver may have been solely responsible for a trucking accident, or possibly only partially responsible. The truck driver may have been fatigued, under the influence, driving recklessly, inexperienced, or distracted. If the driver was fatigued, however, the trucking company may have been aware the driver was exceeding the allowable hours. So some of the responsibility would fall to the trucking company.
- Trucking Company: The trucking company may also be liable under the following circumstances. First, the trucking company may have been aware the driver was insufficiently trained. Additionally, the trucking company failed to conduct a thorough background check on the driver. If so, then the responsibility would be shared. Even if the employee was clearly exhibiting negligent behaviors which resulted in the truck accident, the trucking company could bear at least some of the liability.
- Manufacturer of the Truck: In some truck accidents neither the truck driver nor the trucking company was responsible for the accident. There may have been a specific defect in the truck itself. If this is the case, then the manufacturer of the truck, or the truck part, could be held liable for truck accident. The brakes of the truck could have failed, or a defective tire could have blown, resulting in an accident.
- Truck Maintenance Company: The maintenance company responsible for maintaining the truck may have failed to do its job. For example, they failed to check the brakes, tires and other areas of the truck.
- Truck Loading Company: Finally, the loading company could be at fault, if the accident was due to an improperly secured load. The loading company has a responsibility to ensure the load is properly secured.
Liability for a trucking accident can be split between several people and entities, or could be directly related to one entity or person. Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure liability is attributed correctly, and the victim of a truck accident receives an equitable settlement.
Compensation You May Be Entitled To Following a Truck Accident
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your truck accident, you may be entitled to:
- medical expenses,
- pain and suffering,
- lost wages, and
- other damages.
At least your current and future medical expenses should be covered. Depending on the level of your injuries, you may be entitled to pain and suffering for the physical and emotional stress you have suffered as a result of your injuries. You are also entitled to lost wages and loss of future earnings.
Pain and suffering can include:
- limitations on your activities,
- physical scarring, or
- the potential shortening of your life.
Other damages can include the repairs to your vehicle. Punitive damages are awarded in cases where willful negligence was present. Punitive damages are meant as a punishment and a deterrent for future negligence.
Factors Leading To Truck Accidents
Other factors which may lead to large truck accidents include the following:
- Blind Spots: In some instances, a trucking accident may result when a truck changes lanes and there is a passenger vehicle in one of the truck’s blind spots. A large commercial truck has blind spots on either side of the truck, approximately in the middle, as well as directly behind and directly in front of the truck. Most passenger vehicle drivers are not aware of these blind spots, therefore don’t take care to avoid them.
- Faulty tires and brakes: On a large truck, faulty or worn tires and brakes may also be responsible for trucking accidents. Federal investigators believe the tires on the majority of large commercial trucks simply are not meant to handle constant speeds of 75 mph and more. Between 2009 and 2013, approximately 223 fatal trucking accidents could be directly tied to inferior tires on the semi-truck or trailer. During an investigation of these tire blowouts, it was determined that lack of maintenance, coupled with constant high speeds, was most likely to blame. Most truck tires are rated at a maximum of 75 mph, yet many states legally allow trucks to drive faster than that.
- Improperly secured loads: An improperly secured load can cause serious truck accidents. In one situation, a large semi-truck was carrying a load of phone books which were not properly strapped down. The truck made a turn—in heavy traffic—and the entire load of phone books slid off the truck, hitting other vehicles and causing multiple accidents.
- Impaired drivers: An FMCSA concluded nearly 45 percent of truck drivers who were involved in an accident were taking prescription or over-the-counter medication. The Insurance Institute for Traffic Safety found that 15 percent of all drivers had marijuana in their system, 12 percent had non-prescription stimulants and 2 percent had cocaine. Less than 1 percent of truck drivers had alcohol in their system.
- Fatigued Drivers: Truck drivers are under constant pressure to deliver their cargo as quickly as possible. This leads to fatigued driving, which inhibits a driver’s response time.
- Distracted Driving: Aside from fatigue, truck drivers, like all other drivers, may succumb to distracted driving. Multi-tasking has become a national pastime, spilling over even into such areas as driving.
Truck Accident Statistics
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 244 fatal semi-truck accidents occurred in the state of California in 2012 alone. The vast majority of these large truck accidents occurred in southern California—specifically, San Diego, Imperial, San Bernardino, Orange, Riverside, and Los Angeles Counties.
Across the nation, the number of fatal accidents involving a semi-truck continues to rise. Overall, a deadly truck accident occurs almost eleven times each and every day. Between 4,000 and 5,000 people die from large truck accidents annually, and as many as 100,000 suffer serious injuries.
Steps to Take After a Truck Accident
After a truck accident, consider taking the following steps:
- Seek Medical Care: The very first thing you must do following a trucking accident is to get immediate medical care and ensure all the passengers in your vehicle are properly treated.
- Call the Police: There will likely be police and EMT’s at the scene of the accident, but if, for some reason, there are not, it is important to call the police and report the accident. If the police, or anyone else asks you, about the details of the accident, give only the most basic details, including your own contact information.
- Remain Silent: Refrain from saying anything, which could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. This includes even saying, “I’m sorry,” to anyone else involved in the accident.
- Take Photographs: If you are medically able, take photographs of the scene of the accident, and secure names and addresses of any witnesses.
- Speak to an Attorney: Your best bet is to speak to an accident attorney as soon as possible. Our legal team will go over your case and discuss all the options.
Get Help From a Los Angeles Truck Accident Attorney
To receive the proper compensation after an accident, you should speak to an experienced accident lawyer. It is likely attorneys for the trucking company will quickly “circle the wagons,” seeking to show you were somehow at fault for the accident. They are interested in their financial bottom line, therefore the insurers will often go to any lengths to limit their liability. Having a knowledgeable Los Angeles truck accident attorney by your side can make the difference in the outcome of your case.