A truck accident in California is sometimes more complicated than a regular vehicle accident. Because truck drivers are usually employees hired by transportation companies, the question that needs to be answered is who can be considered liable for the accident. The truck driver who has been injured can claim that the company that owns the truck can be held liable. Likewise, the company can also accuse the driver of negligence.
Our truck accident lawyers in Los Angeles will assess any case that involved truck accidents in the state of California. Our experts will look at the evidence and will help you build a solid case.
Liability for truck accidents, explained by our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles
Truck accidents can cause serious injuries to the driver and other individuals involved in the car crash and also result in important material damages, especially if the truck was transporting certain goods that can be irreparably damaged in the truck accident.
In Los Angeles, truck drivers are required to have a special license to be able to perform transport activities on large vehicles. Despite the measures taken by the authorities to ensure that the driver is suited for operating a large vehicle and despite the best efforts of transport companies that assess and hire trained professional drivers, truck accidents can be related to the driver’s negligence or non-performance. Driving errors can occur during longer routes and fatigue is a common cause of truck accidents.
It is extremely important to establish exactly why the accident occurred and who can be held liable for the damages. If the driver’s behavior caused the accident, he can be held legally responsible for the accident. The driver’s liability also involves the insurance company, if applicable. According to law, transport companies who hire drivers cannot completely distance themselves from the driver who produced the accident, if he can be held liable. The company can also be held accountable for the accident if the truck is clearly registered in its name and displays the name or logos of the company.
If you are involved in a truck accident in California, the first step after seeking appropriate medical care is to gather an actual and accurate accident recount documentation. You should get the accident report from the police and document the medical procedures that were necessary after the accident. You can postpone getting in contact with the insurance company and seek legal counseling. A truck accident attorney will be familiar with the insurance claim resolution method.
Our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles invites you to watch the following video for more information about personal injuries caused by truck accidents:
Truck accident causes
Truck accidents can take place for a number of reasons, not all of them having to do with driver negligence. Because drivers are regulated, as mentioned above, and they work under contract, drunk driving cases are rare in this scenario, as opposed to regular vehicle accidents. Some causes can be the following:
Impractical schedule: even though there are rules in place for the maximum drive time, some trucking companies can push their employees to a limit that can become dangerous; an improper schedule can lead to fatigued driving which can cause truck accidents;
Lack of training: drivers who have just obtained the commercial driver license may not have had time to become fully accustomed to driving this category of vehicle or they may not have received proper training from the company before starting work;
Distracted driving: this is a cause that is solely linked to the driver, unlike the previous two; a driver who eats while driving or who uses the mobile phone only needs a second of inattentiveness to possibly cause an accident;
Cargo issues: trucks carry different types of cargo and it is the loader’s duty to load it properly as well as secure it in order to prevent damages and accidents;
Others: poor road conditions can be a cause for accidents; while California is a sunny state (i.e., there are no harsh winters and impartial routes during snowstorms), poor road conditions can still cause accidents.
Legislation for truck accidents in California
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the regulating authority in the United States for the trucking industry. It has a separate administration within the U.S. Department of Transportation and sets forth the rules and regulations regarding the maximum drive time and on-duty time for truck drivers, the inspection and maintenance requirements for large vehicles, requirements for weight distribution and loading and unloading requirements.
A driver who violates any of the rules set forth by the FMCSA or any other federal law can be presumed liable for the truck accident.
The FMCSA is also the one to provide relevant statistical data on the annual crashes (both fata and property-damage only accidents) in which large trucks and buses are involved. This report is prepared by the Analysis Division within the FMCSA and it includes data from important sources, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Below, our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles highlights some of the numbers presented in the 2018 report:
4,862 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes in 2018; truck tractors pulling a single semi-trailer were involved in 55% of the large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2018 and tractors pulling two trailers were involved in 3% of these fatal crashes; those pulling three trailers accounted for 0.1% of all large trucks that were involved in accidents that year;
however, in 2018 there were approximately 499,000 police-reported crashes in which large trucks were involved and only 4,415 were fatal crashes and 107,000 were crashes that resulted in injuries;
almost 57% of all the fatal crashes involving trucks occurred in rural areas and 26% on interstate highways; 13% occurred on rural interstate highways (thus falling into both categories);
36% of the fatal crashes and 23% of the injury crashes as well as 19% of the property damage only crashes with large trucks occurs at night, between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am; most of these occurred on weekdays;
there were 1.12 fatalities in fatal crashes involving large trucks in 2018; in 90% of the cases there was only one fatality and in 82% of the cases the fatality was not the occupant of the large truck;
from 2015 to 2018 the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes increased from 144 to 619 (for this purpose, a large truck is a vehicle weighing 10,001 to 14,000 pounds);
the number of medium-heavy trucks involved in accidents also increased between 2015 and 2018, from 133 to 400.
As far as the truck drivers involved in fatal accidents in 2018, the data shows that 7% were 25 years or younger and 6% were 66 years old or older. Ten percent of the drivers in large trucks involved in fatal crashes in 2018 were not wearing a safety belt at the time of the accident. There were 885 large truck occupant fatalities in 2018, out of which 84% were the drivers and 16% the passengers.
Negligence in truck accidents
Negligence is a key factor when proving a truck accident claim in Los Angeles. In most cases, it is easy to show that the driver was not paying attention although he had a clear duty of care towards the other traffic participants and their safety. This fist element of duty is easy to show but plaintiffs will also need to prove that the truck driver breached that duty.
The following type of evidence are useful when proving a truck accident injury:
eyewitness testimonies: other driver’s testimonies can be used and you will also be asked to give your own testimony or deposition;
other charges on the other party: does the truck belong to a company that was involved in multiple vehicle accident lawsuits? Maybe you and your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can use this fact to show that the driver was reckless;
expert testimony: this depends on the factors that lead to the crash; however, an expert can prove certain facts or debunk the defense’s claims;
medical reports: these are important as they will show the extent of the injuries and their impact on the plaintiff’s life;
other evidence: drivers can present the detailed logs kept in accordance with the FMCSA provisions; the inspection records can also be presented as evidence (drivers are required to perform these inspections accordingly);
others: in some cases, images or video from in-cab cameras are important; our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help you with information on using the GPS insight.
The settlement for truck accident injuries
Victims of truck accidents can use the medical reports and bills to show that the accident was a direct cause for their losses and injuries. It is important to prove that a certain injury was caused precisely by the truck accident.
When calculating the final settlement, victims can also include lost wages, apart from the medical expenses. Below, we present a list of the main types of damages that you can include when calculating the amount:
Immediate medical expenses: the direct and immediate costs for the medical treatment after the accident; these are usually easily determined once the patient is discharged;
Future medical costs: for severe injuries, the treatment will be prolonged and in this case the treating physician can help you estimate the costs for the future care;
Lost wages: truck drivers who are unable to resume work can be reimbursed for the wages they lost as a result of the immediate hospitalization;
Future lost wages: severe injuries can mean that a truck driver who was injured in an accident may not be able to work the same hours as before the crash or not at all; reimbursements are possible for future lost income and our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help you;
Damages: costs associated with asset or property damages as a direct result of the truck crash.
In some cases, plaintiffs in truck accident cases can claim non-economic damages. These are those for intangible losses and they are best applied for with the help of our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles particularly because their nature makes it harder to quantify them. These can be awarded for emotional pain, loss of a career as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, to name few of the psychological effects that can be reported after such an accident.
Please keep in mind that this is a general list that can apply in many personal injury cases. You can use our personal injury calculator to determine the initial amount of the settlement. However, this number should be carefully considered and our truck accident lawyers in Los Angeles can help you with a more realistic estimation, once they were able to analyze your case and determine what other factors should be taken into consideration. For example, California is a state where the pure comparative negligence rule applies in personal injury cases. This means that the injured party can still claim damages even if they are at fault for the accident to a high degree (for example, there is no cap on the percentage of fault at 50%, for example). This is an important rule to understand and our lawyers will help you determine if and how it applies in your case.
Special assistance provided by our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles
Working with a lawyer specialize in truck accidents allows you to rest assured that you will receive the compensation you deserve and that you will not be accused of another party’s negligence. Our lawyer will do much more than simply represent you in court or during the negotiations with the defendant. We can help with the following:
our lawyer who takes on your case will schedule a visit as soon as you are able to after you have contacted us; this can be either at the hospital (if you are admitted for a longer period) or at home;
we help you gather evidence to identify the party at fault and to support your claim;
our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles will calculate the compensation you deserve;
we will prepare the documentation and be the ones to contact the other party for the purpose of starting the settlement negotiations;
if need be, our lawyer will be the one to file your case in court and, once this takes place, will built your case so that you will obtain the settlement you deserve.
More than one party can be involved in the actions that have lead to the unfortunate event. For example, the driver may have shared part of the fault, however, if the cardo dislodged and caused damage, then part of the fault belongs to the loaders. Likewise, if the truck had a malfunction and the driver was unaware of it, the mechanics (which may be represented by a company that provides these particular services to the tucking company that hired the driver involved in the accident) will also share part of the negligence.
As previously mentioned, determining all of the parties involved is an important step. Because more than one legal entity can be involved as a party in the legal proceedings that will follow, it is highly recommended to reach out to a truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles such as a lawyer from our team.
Our team is able to represent both the driver who was involved in the accident or, as needed, we also represent third parties who need legal assistance with truck accidents. Third parties were those not directly involved in the accident, rather those that had contributed in a way to the accident or the driver’s/other people’s injuries. They can be manufacturing companies or mechanics. You can reach out to us if you are involved in a truck accident lawsuit not as the driver of the truck but as the third party accused of negligence.
Special assistance is also granted to those who have lost a loved one in a truck accident. As the surviving spouse or family member of the victim you have the right to file a wrongful death claim and recover compensations for the emotional damage, loss of companionship and loss of support.
Our truck accident lawyers in Los Angeles can help you solve issues regarding any truck related accident and can also help you if this unfortunate event resulted in wrongful death. You can contact our truck accident lawyer in Los Angeles or sent an online inquiry to one of our experts if you have any questions.
We can also help you in other personal injury cases because we have different teams of lawyers:
Marc Y. Lazo is specialized in personal injury cases as well as in complex business and commercial litigation. He has tried numerous cases to successful verdict and has obtained multiple six-figure judgments in both state and federal court.