Over the last 20 years, we have seen a fairly steady increase in the number of big trucks on the road and, as a result, an increase in truck-related accidents. Large trucks and big rigs are responsible for only about 3 percent of motor vehicle accidents that cause injuries, but are generally more devastating due to the sheer size and massive weight of the majority of trucks. For this reason, it is essential that you contact a Los Angeles County truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
When determining the strength of your claim and presentation of your case involving an accident with a big rig, our experienced team will investigate the maintenance history of the truck and trailer and will check to see if the load itself was within regulation. Accidents involving a commercial truck can be more complex than an average lawsuit since any case would involve the driver of the truck as well as the owner of the trucking company.
Our team of experienced and qualified attorneys at Duque & Price offers comprehensive legal counsel that is personalized to your case. We have a reputation for aggressive representation and are unafraid to take a case to trial if necessary. Our diligence in investigations, negotiations, trial preparation, and litigation has enabled us to obtain favorable outcomes for our clients across a wide range of complex cases.
We offer a free consultation to our prospective clients to discuss the details of your case, provide guidance, and answer questions—including how much we think your case may be worth. Reach out today for questions about your truck accident or to get started in building your case.
If you’ve been in an accident involving a truck, it is important to take the following steps immediately after the accident. Don’t worry if you are physically unable to complete any of these steps, as it is far more important that you prioritize your health and safety. If you or someone with you is able, however, then make sure you:
It is essential that, both at the time of the accident and following it, you refrain from discussing what happened. Comments you make to witnesses, the other driver, law enforcement, or insurance agents could be used as evidence of fault or could otherwise be misconstrued to undermine your case. Wait to discuss your case until you contact your lawyer, and then let them handle the discussions for you.
The commercial trucking industry is controlled by federal regulations that have established a set of standards and can determine the responsible party in a trucking accident. Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains most applicable regulations. Fortunately, Duque & Price can put years of expertise in your corner to understand your rights under the law.
There is a large number of potential responsible parties in any truck accident. These include: the driver, the owner, whoever leased the truck from the owner, the trucking company, the manufacturer of the vehicle or any parts, shippers and loaders, etc. Determining liability mostly hinges on proving fault by demonstrating one or more party’s negligence. Any individual, company, or entity that fails to display a reasonable level of care toward others, either through action or inaction, could be guilty of negligence.
Here are some common examples of negligence in truck accident cases:
In an attempt to avoid liability for accidents, trucking companies have recently begun distancing themselves from the drivers, equipment and vehicles. While they are the ones who hold the necessary permits to operate the vehicles, they often do not own the equipment that is used to haul the load and also hire drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. These practices enable them to shift the responsibility over to the people who owned the truck and who were driving them.
However, federal regulations have since made it so that any company who owns the trucking permit is liable for any accident that involves a truck with its name or placard on the vehicle. Additionally, trucking companies can be held liable for the actions of drivers who are acting within the scope of their employment through the standard of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability even includes the actions of drivers who are operating as independent contractors.
Accident victims historically had to rely on witness statements and police reports to determine the specifics of an accident. Now, data from high tech devices and information from government agencies are also available for a more accurate determination.
California’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim for a truck accident or any other type of injury accident is two years. This statute presents a two-year fixed time frame beginning from the date of the accident within which you need to file your claim. While this may seem like plenty of time, there are several factors that could potentially cause you to miss the legal deadline.
First, many people wait until after they’ve begun to recover from their injuries before they start considering legal action. Unfortunately, many truck accident injuries can take months to heal. Instead, you should contact a truck accident lawyer as soon as you are able, as this provides them with enough time to gather the appropriate evidence, including interviewing eyewitnesses, closer to the incident.
Second, many cases can be settled out of court. This requires lengthy negotiations back and forth with insurance companies, however. Often, insurance companies can intentionally delay negotiations in order to push the case beyond the statute of limitations for filing an official case. If this happens, you and your attorney will no longer be able to bring a personal injury case against the at-fault party, and the insurance company will have no more motivation or obligation to settle.
The longer you wait to begin building your case, the more you risk exceeding the statute of limitations. Your attorney will be able to assess the needs of your case and ensure that every step is taken within the proper deadlines.
Federal regulations across the trucking industry are in place to ensure that both truck drivers and other motorists are kept safe. Failure to adhere to these regulations by either a driver or a trucking company can lead to accidents with devastating consequences. The most frequent causes of truck accidents are driver error, mechanical failures, and cargo violations, in addition to road design, weather conditions and traffic signal failures.
As with any traffic accident, driver error is by far the most common cause of trucking accidents. According to FMCSA, 88% of trucking accidents are caused by a driver’s action or failure to take action. Failure to exercise reasonable care and attention constitutes negligence for which a driver can be held legally responsible.
The most common cause of this is driver fatigue and sleep deprivation. When drivers exceed their regulated hours or service limits, whether they are overworked or are choosing to attempt to maximize their profits, this can lead to sleep deprivation and fatigue, which is, unfortunately, the case in many accidents.
The second largest contributor to big rig accidents is equipment and mechanical defect. These can include design errors in the trucks, manufacturing mistakes or some other issue that interferes with the truck running smoothly. A large number of mechanical causes can be attributed to a failure to properly maintain the equipment.
These can include the following: jackknifing of a truck which is caused by the depowering or removing of the front brakes, failure of the brakes as a result of inadequate adjustments, blowouts of the tires because of wear and tear, truck rollover because of improper securing of the load distribution, transmission failure, incorrect trailer attachment, defective steering, defective lighting on the rears or sides of vehicles, and many more.
Truck drivers are responsible for ensuring that all cargo is properly loaded, secured, and labeled according to government regulations and that all loads adhere to appropriate weight limits. Failing to follow these guidelines can lead to these serious issues:
Truck drivers have a duty of care to ensure that the heavy and potentially dangerous loads they are carrying are handled appropriately, as failure to do so can have devastating consequences.
Rain, snow, and high winds can come upon truck drivers suddenly, especially in California’s higher elevations. Drivers already struggling to maintain attention or care could be affected by inclement weather, leading trucks to hydroplane, swerve out of control, or otherwise endanger themselves and others.
Truck accidents can also arise from other causes, such as unmaintained roads, improper signage, and poorly constructed routes. If this occurs, you and your attorney may consider seeking damages from a separate third party. Construction companies, private property owners, and local municipalities may hold liability in your case.
Truck accidents commonly lead to injuries due to the sheer mass of the vehicles involved. Unfortunately, injuries most often fall to those in the passenger vehicles. Smaller vehicles are much more vulnerable to damage and subsequent injuries when in collisions with far larger vehicles, such as trucks, semis, big rigs, and trailers.
While nearly all accidents will result in at least some sort of bruising or mild cuts, it is more likely that you will experience one or more of the following injuries:
Sadly, injuries sustained during the accident can lead to a fatality, leading to a potential wrongful death case.
Every accident case is different, and the specific injuries, property damage, and losses you experienced are particular to your case. When it comes to recovering damages for your specific losses, your attorney will have a stronger idea of what your case is worth and can work tirelessly to secure a full compensation award that represents the maximum legally allowed settlement. That award will include some combination of the following:
It is vital that you keep careful track of all records, statements, and receipts in your case in order to ensure that your injuries and losses will be properly covered by your settlement award. Hold on to all copies of medical records, repair estimates, work pay stubs, and any other information that may provide tangible evidence of loss.
Truck accident settlements can reach tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation for victims. Generally, truck accidents tend to result in higher awards for damages due to the greater capacity they have for inflicting severe injuries and causing significant property damage.
However, while there is much in common between all truck accidents, each case is unique, and final settlement amounts will be dependent on the circumstances of your case, such as the severity of the inflicted injuries, the extent of the property damage, and any percentage of fault you may share in your accident. To maintain a clearer understanding of what represents a fair and just award in your case, consult your truck accident attorney.
Accidents involving commercial trucks can be quite complicated because there are so many individuals involved. It can be quite tedious and overwhelming trying to understand the events and responsible parties without the help of someone who is knowledgeable and skilled with trucking law.
If you have been injured in a truck accident in the state of California, Duque & Price has the expertise and experience to be able to help you figure out who exactly is responsible so that you can proceed with a strong case and get the reparations that you deserve for your suffering. You will want a personal injury attorney to help you in your case after a truck accident, and Duque & Price is here to help you. Call our office today or leave a message for us online.
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