San Bernardino Truck Accident Lawyer

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Big Rig/18-Wheeler Accidents in San Bernardino, CA

An accident with a big rig can be very devastating. The sheer size and weight of these large trucks can cause severe injury and damage to a vehicle. With more 18-wheelers on the road these days, it is understandable that they will become involved in more accidents than ever before. If you’ve been in an accident involving a large truck, make sure to contact a San Bernardino truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Have You Been Involved In an 18-Wheeler Truck Accident in San Bernardino?

If you have had the misfortune of being in an accident involving a commercial truck in San Bernardino, you must know that the matter will likely be more complicated than it would be in a simple traffic accident. There are more people involved, including both the driver and owner of the truck, and you often need to have some knowledge of the industry to fully understand the potential case.

The knowledge of the common reasons for trucking accidents, relationships between those who have to do with the truck, trailer and load, will all be helpful in determining the validity of your claim and presentation of your case.

Truck Accident Representation in San Bernardino, CA

The attorney team at Duque & Price has a reputation in and around San Bernardino for offering aggressive representation that won’t hold back from taking a case to trial when necessary. Each of our skilled and qualified lawyers offers comprehensive legal counsel that includes diligent investigations, negotiations, trial preparation, and litigation.

We have found continued success across a wide range of complex cases, and we personalize every claim we handle to the particular needs of each client.

To discuss the details of your case and receive answers to your questions, including how much we think your case may be worth, reach out today for a free consultation. We are ready to get you started in building your truck accident case.

What to Do if You’ve Been in a Truck Accident

If you’ve been in a vehicle collision that involved a large truck, take care to follow these steps immediately after your accident if possible:

  • Call 911. A law enforcement officer should be brought to the scene of the accident as soon as possible. They will gather much-needed information, compose an accident report, and record whether the other driver was in violation of committing any offenses at the time of the accident, such as driving under the influence.
  • Gather information. You should collect the other driver’s insurance information, driver’s license number, and license plate number. If there were any witnesses to the accident, make sure you collect their names and numbers as well so they can be contacted for testimony later on in the case.
  • Take pictures. Make sure to gather photos of the accident scene that include the location, cross streets, road conditions, and the condition of all the vehicles involved from many different angles.
  • Avoid discussing the accident. It is important that you not discuss the accident with either the other driver, law enforcement, or the insurance company. Aside from answering any question to which you are legally obligated, you should remain silent to avoid risking any potential to obtain compensation because you unwittingly admitted fault, downplayed an injury, or excluded value in your property damage.

    This also goes for posting about the accident on social media, as comments there could also be misconstrued or used against you.

  • Seek immediate medical attention. Regardless of whether or not your injuries are apparent to you, it is vital that you seek medical care immediately following the accident.

    In some cases, emergency services will arrive to take care of you on the spot, but even if you walk away from the accident, you should check into an ER in order to receive a proper examination to ensure any potential injury can be treated. Many injuries do not immediately manifest themselves, and many others can go unnoticed without proper triage.

  • Speak to a truck accident attorney. It is in your interest to contact an accident lawyer as soon as possible following your accident. A skilled and experienced attorney can take the burden of the case off of you, allowing you to focus on recovering while they focus on your recovery claim.

If you are physically unable to complete any of these steps, that’s okay. If possible, have someone else who is with you do them for you. It is most important that you prioritize your safety. Then, contact a qualified attorney who can begin helping you build your case.

Laws Pertaining to Truck Accidents in San Bernardino, CA

The trucking industry is controlled by federal regulations that establish a set of standards and can determine the responsible party in a given trucking accident. Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations contains most applicable regulations. Fortunately, by working with a firm like Duque & Price, you can put years of expertise in your corner to understand your rights under the law.

Who Is Responsible?

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. Liability determinations will rest on how well you and your attorney will be able to establish another party’s negligence. Any individual, entity, company, or business could be guilty of negligence if they fail to display a reasonable level of care towards others.

Truck drivers can be guilty of negligence in some of the following ways, for example:

  • Failing to follow applicable traffic laws
  • Driving while distracted
  • Operating their truck while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Inattention to hazards, obstructions, weather conditions, or changes in traffic
  • Exceeding limits on driving time or working hours
  • Violating cargo regulations

Trucking companies can be guilty of negligence in some of the following ways as well:

  • Failing to adequately maintain their trucks
  • Hiring unqualified drivers
  • Pressuring drivers to prioritize profits over safety or engage in practices that are unsafe
  • Improperly loading cargo onto the truck or trailer

Parts manufacturers can exhibit negligence, such as by:

  • Developing defective parts that lead to an accident
  • Improperly assembling a cargo container, trailer, or truck

Avoidance of Liability by Trucking Companies

In recent years, trucking companies have worked hard to side step liability for accidents by distancing themselves from the drivers, equipment, and vehicles. They have the required permits to operate the vehicles, but they often do not own the equipment that is used to haul whatever is in the truck. They also hire drivers as independent contractors rather than employees. These practices have enabled them to shift the responsibility over to the truck owner and driver.

However, federal regulations have fortunately made it so that any company who owns a trucking permit is liable for any accident that involves a truck with its name or placard on the vehicle. Trucking companies can also be held liable for the actions of any driver who is acting within the scope of their employment with the company, whether they are employees or independent contractors, through the standard of vicarious liability.

Accident victims historically had to rely on witness statements and police reports to understand the specifics of an accident. Now, data from high tech devices and information from government agencies are also available for greater understanding.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Truck Accident Claims in California?

Accident injuries, including those from truck accidents, fall under personal injury law. For personal injuries, California has a statute of limitations of two years from the date of the accident in which the injury occurred, presenting a fixed time frame within which all victims must file a case against an at-fault party from whom they seek compensation.

There is a three-year statute of limitations on property damage, but it is recommended that cases be filed together for those who experienced both injury and property loss in an accident.

While this time frame may seem generous, it is quite easy and very common for victims to miss their deadline for a variety of reasons. First, many individuals don’t get started on their claims cases until after they have recovered from their injuries. Truck accident injuries can take many months to heal from, meaning some won’t get started until six months to a year from the date of the accident.

Second, most cases will attempt to settle out of court, which involves lengthy back-and-forth negotiations between the victim and the defendant. Insurance companies can delay these negotiations, even intentionally, in order to push the case beyond the statute of limitations. Once the deadline has passed and a personal injury case cannot be filed against the other party, they will be less motivated to settle with favorable terms.

It is in your interest to contact a truck accident attorney right away so they can begin building your case. This will give them access to the appropriate evidence, eyewitness testimonies, and other helpful details while they are fresh, accurate, and available. Your attorney will be able to assess the needs of your case and ensure that every step meets the proper deadlines if they are able to get started as close to the date of the accident as possible.

What Types of Trucks Do We Handle in Our Truck Accident Cases?

There is a wide range of truck types represented throughout the kinds of claims we’ve handled over the years. Though not exhaustive, here are some of the more common types of trucks against which we represent victims in truck accident cases:

  • Big rigs
  • Semi-trucks
  • Tractor trailers
  • Dump trucks
  • Garbage trucks
  • Flatbed trucks
  • Tanker trucks
  • Cement trucks
  • Refrigerated trucks
  • Livestock carriers
  • Logging trucks
  • Auto transporters
  • Crane trucks
  • Utility trucks
  • Fire trucks
  • Construction vehicles, such as bulldozers

Common Causes of Truck Accidents in San Bernardino

The trucking industry has many regulations placed upon it by the federal government meant to ensure both driver and other motorist safety. Violating these regulations can lead to devastating accidents. The most frequent causes of truck accidents are driver error, mechanical failures, and cargo violations, in addition to other contributors, such as road design, weather conditions, and traffic signal failures.

Driver Error

Driver fatigue and sleep deprivation are by far the most common causes of trucking accidents; according to FMCSA, 88% of trucking accidents are caused by a driver’s action or failure to take action. Drivers are held legally responsible for any negligence in which they fail to exercise reasonable care or attention. Driver fatigue and sleep deprivation are common forms of driver negligence.

Drivers who exceed their regulated service limits and hours experience sleep deprivation and fatigue, which, unfortunately, results in accidents at an alarming rate. This can occur whether the driver chose to attempt to maximize their own profits or were simply overworked by their employer.

Mechanical Problems

After driver error, the second leading contributor to truck accidents is equipment and mechanical issues. These can be design errors in the vehicles, manufacturing mistakes, or some other issue that interferes with the truck running smoothly. The majority of mechanical causes of these accidents are a result of a failure to maintain the equipment properly.

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, defective steering, transmission failure, incorrect trailer attachment, defective lighting on the rears or sides of vehicles, and many more.

Cargo Violations

It’s the responsibility of the truck driver to ensure that all cargo is loaded properly, is secured, and displays appropriate labeling. Government regulations also impose weight limits on cargo. Failure to adhere to these guidelines can lead to serious issues, such as:

  • Improperly secured loads lead to cargo becoming dislodged, falling onto the road, and endangering other motorists
  • Some cargo can lead to road spills and leaks if containers are not properly stored due to mislabeling
  • Overloading cargo can place a strain on a truck’s brake and suspension system, leading to a loss of control.

Because truck drivers carry loads that are potentially dangerous, they have a higher duty of care than typical motorists. To avoid devastating situations, truck drivers should ensure they are handling all loads properly and in accordance with all applicable regulations.

External Factors

Adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, and high winds, can come suddenly upon truck drivers. California’s higher elevation is particularly prone to sudden weather hazards. Inclement weather can affect all drivers, especially those already struggling to maintain attention. Trucks can hydroplane or swerve out of control, endangering themselves and others.

Other factors, such as improper signage, poorly constructed routes, and roads that are unmaintained, can also lead to truck accidents. In these cases, it is possible to hold local municipalities, private property owners, and construction companies liable in your case.

What Are the Most Common Truck Accident Injuries?

The sheer mass of large trucks, such as big rigs, semi-trucks, and tractor-trailers, makes injuries more highly common in truck accidents. Because smaller vehicles are more vulnerable to damage, most truck accident injuries fall on those occupying passenger vehicles. Nearly all truck collisions result in some form of minor injury, such as bruising or cuts, but experiencing one or more of the following is more probable:

  • Lacerations
  • Whiplash
  • Back pain
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Nerve damage
  • Crush injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injuries

Injuries sustained in a truck accident can even lead to fatalities. If a loved one has passed away in a truck accident or following an accident due to the injuries they sustained, you could pursue a wrongful death case against the at-fault parties.

Run-off-Road Accidents

Run-off-road truck accidents tend to be serious accidents that lead to injuries for both passenger vehicle drivers and truckers. Thankfully, there are countermeasures that can be taken to help prevent these and other types of accidents, including training drivers, following speed limits, using your seatbelt, preventing driver fatigue, and removing potential distractions.

What Damages Am I Entitled to Recover in a Truck Accident Claim?

Recovering damages in a truck accident case for the specific loss and harm you experienced in your particular case will rest on you and your attorney’s ability to both prove fault and present evidence demonstrating the extent of your injuries and property damage.

Not only will your attorney have a fair idea of what your case is worth, but they will also work tirelessly to secure comprehensive compensation and seek the maximum settlement legally allowed in your case. Every accident case varies, but you can generally expect to recover some combination of the following:

  • Medical bills. Emergency services, hospital visits, follow-up care, medical procedures, medical tests, X-rays, MRIs, medication, physical therapy, and medical devices all incur high financial costs for those who’ve suffered injuries. Your claim can recover these and other related expenses.
  • Property damage. Truck accidents frequently result in catastrophic damage to personal vehicles. Your claim can recover the cost of repairing your vehicle. If it has been deemed a total loss by insurance companies, they should offer what would have been a fair market price for the vehicle had you sold it in its previous condition. The claim can also recover towing fees and car rental costs, as well.
  • Lost wages. Victims of truck accidents can incur injuries that take several months or more to heal. In most cases, individuals will be unable to return to work during the time spent in recovery. The lost income on account of this missed work is recoverable damage for which your claim should seek compensation.

    In fact, if your injuries leave you unable to return to work indefinitely in the same capacity you were previously able to, your claim can seek coverage for the loss of earning capacity you experience.

  • Pain and suffering. The physical pain, discomfort, emotional distress, mental anguish, and overall drop in quality of life experienced by victims are intangible losses for which you can seek compensation. Though difficult to quantify, these pains nevertheless represent real harm.
  • Wrongful death benefits. Surviving family members of a loved one killed in a truck accident are entitled to pursue compensation on their behalf. Medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages are all recoverable, with the addition of funeral expenses, burial fees, and damages for loss of consortium.

    Loss of consortium compensates family members for the loss associated with losing a loved one, including the love, support, intimacy, and companionship they provided.

Keeping track of all medical records, repair estimates, receipts, and statements can help ensure that your injuries and losses will be adequately covered by your settlement.

How Much Is My Claim Worth in a Truck Accident Case?

Settlement awards in truck accident cases tend to result in higher amounts—tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars—due to the greater capacity they have for leading to serious injury and significant property damage.

Actual net settlement amounts, however, will be dependent on the circumstances of your particular case. While truck accidents, in general, have much in common, the severity of injuries, extent of property damage, and percentage of shared fault are all unique to your situation. For a clear understanding of what represents a fair and just award, consult your truck accident attorney.

Speaking With a Claims Adjuster

Soon after your truck accident, you will likely hear from an insurance agent or claims adjuster who will contact you in an attempt to settle the claim as soon as possible. This person’s goal is to come to an agreement for as little compensation as they are able. They will appear friendly but will most likely undervalue your claim or try to get you to say or admit something that could be construed as an admission of fault.

Remember, you may not actually know all the facts of the case, so it is important never to answer questions regarding the case, make assumptions, or presume that you share any blame until you speak with your attorney.

This also applies to your injuries. Never state the extent of your injuries with a claims adjuster, as this could drastically limit your entitled compensation, especially if an actual injury from the accident manifests later but was excluded from your statements.

It is imperative that you not speak with a claims adjuster until you have a truck accident attorney with you. You don’t want to give up your right to obtain fair compensation by talking to the insurance company too soon. Your claim will always benefit by having a lawyer draft a demand letter first rather than undermining your case by potentially reinforcing lesser compensation through any inadvertent acknowledgments made to an agent.

Getting Legal Help in San Bernardino, California

Truck accidents can be quite overwhelming because there are so many individuals involved. It can be quite difficult to navigate through 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 San Bernardino Trucking Accident Lawyer to help you in your case after a truck accident, and Duque & Price is here to help you.

Contact our San Bernardino County Personal Injury Attorney at 1-877-590-0080 to learn more about your legal options. A free consultation is just a phone call away. You can even use our online contact form, and we’ll reply to you quickly.

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