Many people make the mistake of thinking they should treat a crash with a semi-truck just like they would any other motor vehicle crash. However, truck accidents are very different from car or motorcycle crashes. Not only are they more likely to result in serious injury or death, but they also warrant a more calculated and aggressive response.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a California truck accident, this is what you need to think about when considering your recovery.
Differences Between Truck Accidents and Car Crashes
Truck accidents are almost always more complex than crashes involving smaller, privately owned and operated automobiles. This is because:
- Semi-trucks may be owned by a company
- The company may be responsible for setting the driver’s schedule, hours, and routes
- The company may have been responsible for ensuring the semi-truck and trailer’s maintenance
So, even if a semi-truck driver appears immediately liable for an accident, the real fault may lie with their employer. Thus, determining liability in truck-related accidents can be very difficult. A semi-truck driver might blame their employer, while the employer may blame the driver.
Oftentimes, the reality lies somewhere in between. However, trucking companies do whatever they can to avoid paying for an accident out of pocket. So do their insurance companies. This means it can be very difficult to get maximum compensation by yourself.
A personal injury attorney can help you figure out who was at fault for an accident. They will look at the cause of the accident and figure out who should be held liable in an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Possible Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Semi-truck accidents can be caused by any number of factors, such as:
- A distracted driver
- A fatigued driver
- Poor driver training
- Improperly stored or secured cargo
- Faulty equipment
- Failed mechanical parts
It is important to remember that semi-truck drivers and their employers must adhere to many rules. These rules are set at the local, state, and federal levels. Truck drivers, for instance, must follow “hours of service” regulations. Hours of service regulations forbid drivers from being on duty more than 14 hours per day. They also provide mandatory break times and rest stops.
Accordingly, one mistake may tie into another. A driver may be fatigued because they exceeded hours of service limits—and they may have been coerced into exceeding their hours of service by their employer, too.
The result is that semi-truck lawsuits often include multiple defendants, such as the:
- Truck driver
- Truck driver’s employer
- Company responsible for loading cargo onto their truck
- Company responsible for taking cargo off their truck
- Manufacturer of a failed part, if that part’s failure caused or contributed to the accident
Determining the exact cause of a semi-truck accident may mean analyzing not only the scene of an accident but also an employee’s driving history and a company’s record of violations and vehicle safety inspections.
Semi-Truck Accidents Are Often More Severe
Semi-truck accidents often cause a great deal more damage than other types of automobile accidents. Semi-trucks, after all, weigh far more than passenger cars, especially when they are loaded with cargo.
While many car crashes do not result in substantial injury, semi-truck accidents often do. Personal injury attorneys regularly see clients who broke bones, suffered severe burns, or even experienced partial paralysis after a semi-truck accident.
Since semi-truck accidents are often catastrophic, victims require more compensation to facilitate their recovery.
Potential Damages From a Semi-Truck Accident
If you need help recovering from a semi-truck accident, a personal injury claim or lawsuit can help you get the compensation you deserve. In general, people can file for two different types of damages:
- Economic damages. This is compensation that is objective and has a set dollar amount. Examples of economic damages include medical bills, physical rehabilitation costs, and lost income due to injury.
- Non-economic damages. These damages are subjective and circumstantial. Examples of non-economic damages include emotional pain and suffering, lingering trauma, or disfigurement.
California does not limit economic or non-economic damages in truck accident claims. An attorney can help you figure out how much your case may be worth.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Even small trucking companies often have their own legal team on stand-by. Their lawyers will be well-versed in the local, state, and federal statutes governing the commercial transportation industry. They will know what to say and do to make it seem as if their client, the trucking company, should not be found at fault for an accident.
If you are going up against a company with vast resources at its disposal, you should never do it alone. A truck accident attorney can help you counter the company’s claims. They will build a compelling case by collecting and analyzing:
- Material evidence from the accident site
- Eyewitness testimony
- Surveillance footage of the crash
- The semi-truck driver’s commercial driving record
- The semi-truck company’s violations history
- Your injuries, pain, and suffering
By considering all of the available evidence, your personal injury attorney will demonstrate how the truck driver—and possibly their employer or a parts manufacturer, too—was negligent and responsible for your injuries.
Contact Us Today
If you or a loved one was hurt in a California truck accident, we have the experience needed to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation today.