Semis, big rigs, or commercial trucks. Whatever you choose to call them, they all have one thing in common when it comes collisions with them on the road: damage. Unfortunately, an object two times the size or moving twice as fast does not do twice as much damage, but considerably more (a force calculator for those interested is located here). A truck accident lawyer knows this and will be able to demonstrate this to the jury.
If that were not enough, once the collision has occurred, figuring out who is responsible for your injuries can be a complete guessing game for the victim. Who is at fault, or liability, should be left to an experienced truck accident lawyer. If you already know that the law has been broken, contact our San Diego personal injury lawyer immediately.
Truck Accident Statistics
Large trucks often weigh more than 10,000 pounds and can pull as much as 80,000 pounds. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, large trucks were involved in a yearly average of 321 single-vehicle fatality crashes in the state of California from 2004 to 2014. This ranged from as low as 236 in 2010 to as high as 429 in 2005. Also, large trucks were involved in 220 multiple-vehicle fatality crashes, on average, in that same time span.
Have you ever felt a little pinched in on both sides while driving in between two commercial trucks? That is probably because the California Department of Motor Vehicles registered 5,645,836 commercial trucks and 2,380,417 commercial trailers in 2011. Plus traffic accidents are on the rise in San Diego, so it would be wise to practice defensive driving. At the end of the day, if you are involved in an accident with a semi, be sure to consult with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What Should You Do When a Truck Accident Occurs?
- First and foremost, stop your vehicle. The California Vehicle Code requires you stop immediately if anyone in the collision is injured. Vehicle Code § 20001. If only property (i.e. cars and trucks) are damaged, you can stop at the nearest location that does not impede traffic.
- If you’re injured and need medical attention, get it as soon as possible and give your physician as many details as possible about the pain and discomfort that you are suffering. Truck accidents, by virtue of their size, can lead to long term recovery needs, so your physician, therapists, surgeons, and other medical providers will be witnesses in estimating your damages.
- Make sure that you obtain registration, license plate number, and insurance information from the other driver involved in the incident. It may be a misdemeanor, fine, or worse if you do not gather this information. Veh. Code 20002(b), (c).
- Obtain the names and contact information of all witnesses. This can help your legal claim significantly down the road. If someone is injured in the accident, you will be required to disclose the names and contact information of all the occupants in your vehicle. Cal. Veh. Code 20003(a).
- Take pictures of the accident, vehicles, damage, the truck driver’s log, and, if possible, the injuries you and your passenger’s sustained. Many trucking companies have crash response teams who may take pictures and try to clean up the accident as soon as possible, so it is imperative that you take some photos of your own as soon as possible. If you are injured and unable to take photos, ask a witness to take photos while you get medical attention.
- File a written report as soon as possible! If anyone is injured in the truck accident, Veh. Code 20008(a) requires you submit a written report to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours.
- Call a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. The advice you will receive by experienced counsel could literally be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Every case is different and you should consult with a truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
What NOT to Do After a Truck Accident
After a collision it is important that you think carefully about your next steps.
- Do not admit fault to anyone. Truck accidents are complicated and there may be some other causes such as an improperly maintained vehicle, defective part, poor maintenance that cause the crash, or mistake on the truck driver’s part. You do not want to accidentally hurt your case simply because you talked too much right after the accident.
- Don’t sign anything without speaking with your lawyer, except if a ticket is issued by a law enforcement officer. You should sign that and keep a copy.
- Do not talk to the insurance companies of the other driver(s). They are out to minimize your compensation. Never trust the insurance adjuster!
- Do not discuss the accident with anyone but your physician and attorney. This can be vitally important should your truck accident go to trial.
Legally Speaking, Are Truck Accidents Different Than Car Accidents?
Due to the size of the truck and potential damage it can do, there are a few reasons a truck driver may be liable for an accident than your average car driver (the usual causes such as speeding, distracted driving, and driving under the influence still apply). For instance:
- Veh. Code 34501.2(b)(1) states that the driver of a truck or truck tractor may not drive for more than 12 hours within a work period (10 hours for those transporting flammable liquids). Violation of this may be the root cause of the accident which is why it is important you do not admit fault.
- Veh. Code 34501.2(b)(2) provides that a driver may not drive if they have driven 80 hours over eight consecutive days.
- If a truck is loaded incorrectly, it may have a higher center of gravity making it easier for the truck to topple over.
- Veh. Code 34505.5(a) requires vehicle inspection at least every 90 days. This maintenance includes brake adjustment, checking the brake system, steering and suspension systems, tires, wheels, and connecting devices. If not properly maintained, the driver or owner of the big rig may be liable.
What Will a Truck Accident Lawyer Do for You?
Truck accidents, like car accidents, are usually sudden and unforeseeable and messy. Because of this it can be extremely complicated to figure out who is at fault. The driver may have made a mistake, been fatigued, or have been distracted. To the same extent, the truck may be poorly maintained or have a defective product used in the maintenance. You shouldn’t be trying to figure that out. A truck accident lawyer will do that for you. He will be able to help you get through the maze and figure out which of the parties involved should be brought to justice.
A good truck accident lawyer will also maximize the compensation you receive. The goal will be to put you back where you would have been had it never occurred. This may include any emotional distress suffered by close family members who witness, but are not involved in, the accident, your spouse due to loss of intimacy, lost income from rehabilitation, and, possibly, punitive damages.
Your insurance company, while being a little helpful, will not be looking to fight for all of these potential losses. The insurance company of the truck, even more so, will avoid bringing up these losses as they try to write you the smallest check possible (or they will try to avoid paying you altogether). Your truck accident attorney, however, will have your best interest in mind and will pursue every avenue of your claim possible.
Contact our lawyer for a risk free, no obligation, free consultation. We provide hope for seriously injured people. If you were in a motorcycle accident, visit our motorcycle accident attorney page. If you were in an accident involving a car, visit our car accident attorney page. If a vehicle injured you when you were a pedestrian, visit our pedestrian accident lawyer page.