If you were injured in an accident involving a commercial truck in San Francisco, San Rafael, Tiburon, Mill Valley, Corte Madera or the surrounding cities, you should seek advice from a truck accident lawyer right away.
Only a lawyer who has worked on personal injury cases involving commercial trucking companies will be able to get you the financial compensation for your injuries that you deserve.
There are many reasons why accidents involving commercial trucks are so serious. The large size and weight of heavy trucks and transporters can cause devastating injuries in an accident with a passenger vehicle or motorcycle.
Because most truck drivers in California are insured by commercial insurance policies, it can be nearly impossible to negotiate a fair settlement with their insurance company representatives. You may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the truck driver and his or her employer, but these types of lawsuits often raise complex legal issues that only an experienced truck accident lawyer can handle.
Here are some of the key things to know about commercial truck accidents.
Common Injuries in Commercial Trucking Accidents
Due to their size and weight, commercial trucks such as big rigs, semi-trucks, delivery trucks, construction trucks, and refrigerator trucks can cause debilitating or even fatal injuries to drivers and occupants of passenger vehicles.
These are the most common serious injuries suffered by victims of truck accidents:
- Severe bruising, swelling, lacerations, and scarring;
- Muscle sprains, broken bones, and fractured bones;
- Spinal cord, back, and neck injuries;
- Concussions and traumatic brain injuries (or “TBI”);
- First-degree, second-degree, and third-degree burns; and
- Psychological trauma leading to depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (or “PTSD”), and other serious mental health issues.
If you suffered any of these types of injuries in a truck accident, you may be facing a long road to recovery.
A truck accident lawyer can help you understand whether you’re entitled to financial compensation for your injuries. Because of the difficulties associated with obtaining a fair settlement from a commercial insurance provider, it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Injured? Don’t Delay.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
An accident can happen for many reasons. But let’s discuss the most common causes of truck crashes.
A failure to maintain a commercial truck properly can have disastrous consequences. Equipment may also fail due to defective products or dangerous parts. For example, most commercial trucks operate with air brakes that stop a loaded truck at approximately 100 feet when traveling at speeds up to 40 mph. When these brakes fail, an unstoppable truck becomes deadly. Although truck driving training courses instruct drivers to pump the brakes, an accident may be unavoidable if the brakes fail or don’t function properly.
When a truck driver loses control of the truck, it might begin sliding sideways. Unfortunately, any type of interference can cause a rollover, including a curb, a guardrail, uneven ground, or another car. Additionally, a rollover can be triggered if a truck has a heavy or imbalanced load and moves in any direction other than straight. Rollovers often have disastrous consequences.
Blind Spot Accidents
A large commercial truck has a significant blind spot. When you can’t see the mirrors on the side of a large truck, the driver cannot see you. When a vehicle drives too closely behind or on either side of a truck, an accident could occur if the driver must make a sudden stop or tries to change lanes.
Large trucks carry hefty loads, and a tire blowout often leads to an accident due to the driver losing control of the truck.
Overloaded or Improperly Loaded Cargo
The gross weight of any truck in California may not exceed 80,000 pounds. If a truck driver exceeds this limit, the weight may become too heavy for the truck to manage safely. If this hazard exists, the driver could lose control of the vehicle and cause an accident.
Even if your accident didn’t result from one of these scenarios, that doesn’t mean it was your fault. Your San Francisco truck accident attorney will carefully analyze your case’s facts to determine the cause of your accident. If the truck driver was negligent, you deserve to recover compensation for your resulting injuries and property damage.
Steps to Take After Being in a Truck Accident
Collisions with trucks often result in catastrophic injuries and property damage. Check on your health and safety first before taking any additional steps. However, if you are able, the following steps could help protect your rights if you file a claim against the driver or trucking company.
- Gather evidence of the accident: Gather as much information as possible, including photographs, images of involved vehicles, license plates, insurance information, and all involved drivers’ contact information.
- Talk to witnesses: Ask witnesses about their observations in the moments leading up to and during the collision, and be sure to get their contact information so your attorney can follow up.
- Seek medical treatment: See a doctor as soon as possible. Call 911 to request medical responders and law enforcement officers to report to the scene.
- File a claim: File a claim with your insurance company, but be careful not to admit or get tricked into accepting fault for the accident.
- Contact an attorney: Contact a truck accident attorney in San Francisco to explore your options for financial recovery as soon as possible. In fact, you may want to call the attorney first so they can handle the insurance company communications for you.
Following a truck accident, you will likely be in shock. But if you can gather your thoughts and take these steps, it will help your attorney build a strong case on your behalf.
Can I Get a Fair Insurance Settlement After a
Under California state law and federal law, most truck drivers are required to carry commercial insurance policies.
If you were in an accident with a commercial truck and the truck driver was at fault, their employer’s insurance carrier will be responsible for investigating your insurance claim and offering you a settlement.
The insurance company’s claims adjusters will do everything they can to reduce the amount of money you’re offered for your injuries and other losses.
It can be very difficult for victims of negligent commercial truck driving to get a fair settlement after a serious truck accident. Because of this, you should never speak to an insurance claims adjuster, investigator, lawyer, or any other insurance company representative without an experienced truck accident lawyer present. Your words may be used against you to reduce your settlement or even to assign part of the fault for the accident to you.
Establishing Negligence in a Trucking Accident Lawsuit
If you and your truck accident lawyer decide that the best course of action is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault truck driver and other responsible parties, your lawyer will need to prove negligence.
Negligence is made up of five “elements,” which are essential components of a legal case.
These elements are:
1. Duty: A legal “duty” exists where one person is obligated to act in a certain way toward another person. All commercial truck drivers on the roads and highways in San Francisco and Marin County have a duty to exercise caution toward other drivers, pedestrians, and motorcyclists.
2. Breach of Duty: A breach of duty exists where someone has failed to abide by their legal duty. For example, where a commercial truck driver drives too fast in inclement weather, he has breached his duty of care.
3. Actual Cause: In order for someone to be liable for your injuries, their behavior must have been the actual cause of your injuries. If a truck accident would not have occurred but for the commercial truck driver’s conduct, this element is satisfied.
4. Proximate Cause: This element requires that your injuries were reasonably foreseeable based on the conduct of the party being accused of negligence. This element is not typically at issue in truck accident lawsuits since serious injuries frequently result from accidents involving large trucks, and are therefore typically foreseeable.
5. Damages: You must show that the conduct at issue caused you to suffer legally recognized damages. In a truck accident lawsuit, damages might include the cost of your medical treatment, lost wages as a result of missed work, damage to your vehicle, pain and suffering, and more.
In California, there is a special legal concept known as negligence per se which often applies in truck accident lawsuits. This rule treats evidence that a truck driver has broken certain laws (for example, by driving above the posted speed limit at the time of your accident) as automatic proof of two of the elements above: duty and breach of duty. An experienced truck accident lawyer can tell you whether this applies in your case.
During your initial consultation with a San Francisco truck accident lawyer, he or she will ask about the facts surrounding your truck accident to determine whether you may have a case for negligence against the at-fault parties.
If you have a strong case, your lawyer may suggest that you file a personal injury lawsuit.
What Can I Recover After a Truck Accident?
California permits the recovery of compensatory damages in the form of economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include direct financial losses related to your injuries, including:
- Medical expenses,
- Loss of future earnings,
- Lost wages, and
- Property damage.
Receipts, bills, and invoices support your claim for economic damages. Retain all copies to provide to your attorney.
Non-economic damages represent the mental and emotional pain suffered after the accident and include the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of enjoyment of life,
- Disfigurement, and
- Permanent disability.
Due to their subjective nature, non-economic damages are challenging to quantify and require the assistance of a qualified personal injury attorney.
Contact our Marin County and San Francisco Truck Accident Lawyer Today
At the Wakeford Law Firm, we represent victims of truck accidents in personal injury lawsuits and claim settlement negotiations. We understand that a truck accident can be devastating and we want to help you navigate the road to recovery.