Commercial semi-trucks can make even the most confident driver a little nervous. Driving next to a truck that's bigger and heavier than your vehicle puts you at risk of a more serious, life-changing accident than if you crash with another car. Not only will your injuries in a truck accident likely be severe and require medical treatment for years to come, but filing a personal injury claim for a truck accident is very different from filing one for an ordinary car accident.
It's important to understand truck accident claims before you file. The truck crash attorneys at Case Barnett Law are experienced in the unique legal elements of truck accident cases, and they will help you understand what you'll face before you begin the legal process of filing a personal injury claim or a lawsuit.
What to Know Before Filing a Truck Accident Personal Injury Claim in California
Truck accidents are not like car accidents, and the attorneys who handle truck crash personal injury cases must have a complete understanding of trucking regulations, extensive experience handling these types of cases, and special negotiating skills. Obtaining justice after you've been injured in a truck crash can be challenging, and receiving fair compensation isn't easy. Our truck accident attorney discusses several key things to know before you file a claim or a lawsuit.
You Really Do Need a Lawyer
Truck accident victims usually face catastrophic medical bills, and the trucking company knows that when one of their drivers injures or kills a motorist, they'll be liable for paying a significant amount in damages. To reduce their risk of financial loss, trucking companies get liability policies from large insurance companies with lawyers who are aggressive and masterful in paying you as little as possible.
Because the trucking company will have lawyers who are skilled at saving their company money, which means you receive less compensation, you need a lawyer who has experience managing the special legal components of a truck accident case that not all personal injury attorneys are trained to handle. You need a solid legal strategy to get the compensation you deserve.
You Must Know the Statute of Limitations for California Truck Accident Cases
Like all personal injury claims, a truck accident claim must be filed before the statute of limitations (SOL) runs out. The SOL determines the time you have to file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit if you're injured in a truck crash. In California, it's two years. If you don't file within the two-year limit, you could lose your right to sue.
Although there are a few exceptions to the SOL, most people lose their right to sue because they don't know they must adhere to a strict time limit. An attorney knows the timeframe for filing and can provide immediate legal assistance, especially if you've waited a long time before talking to an experienced attorney.
Many Truck Accident Cases Settle Out of Court
You may be worried about filing a truck accident personal injury claim because you fear it will end up in court. Many people are afraid of the legal system and don't relish the idea of being in a courtroom or facing a judge or jury.
It's important to know that even if you've filed a personal injury claim or lawsuit, most truck cases don't make it to court. Typically, the trucking insurance company will offer to settle. Even though the first attempt is often a low-ball offer that your attorney will recommend you reject, the negotiation usually ends with a reasonable settlement amount.
If the case goes to court because the insurance company for the at-fault party is not offering fair compensation, a judge or jury will listen to your case, see your evidence, and render a decision or verdict.
There May Be Multiple Defendants in a Truck Crash Claim
In a truck accident personal injury claim, there may be multiple parties who could be held liable for the injuries and damages sustained by the injured party. The specific circumstances of the accident will determine which of the following parties are potentially responsible:
- Truck driver. The truck driver may be liable if their negligence or recklessness, such as speeding, distracted driving, or impaired driving, contributed to the accident.
- Trucking company. The trucking company that employs the driver can be held responsible for the driver's actions if they failed to adequately train, supervise, or maintain their fleet or if they pressured the driver to violate safety regulations, such as hours-of-service rules.
- Truck owner. If the truck is owned by a separate entity from the trucking company and is leased to the company, the owner may share liability for maintenance issues or other factors contributing to the accident.
- Maintenance and repair providers. Companies responsible for servicing and maintaining the truck, including mechanics and repair shops, may be held liable if inadequate maintenance or repairs played a role in the accident.
- Truck manufacturer. If a defect in the truck's design or manufacturing contributed to the accident, the manufacturer may be held liable for product liability.
- Cargo loading company. Improperly loaded or secured cargo can lead to accidents. The company responsible for loading and securing the cargo might share liability if their negligence caused the accident.
- Cargo owner or shipper. In cases where the cargo owner or shipper provided improper loading instructions or knowingly overloaded the truck, they may be held liable for contributing to the accident.
- Government entities. If road conditions, signage, or other factors under the control of government entities contributed to the accident, those entities may share liability.
- Third-party contractors. If the trucking company contracted with third parties for services related to the truck's operation, such as maintenance, dispatch, or safety compliance, those third parties may be liable if their negligence contributed to the accident.
- Vehicle parts manufacturers. Manufacturers of specific vehicle parts, such as brakes or tires, may be liable for accidents caused by defects in those parts.
- Other motorists. If other drivers on the road acted negligently and their actions contributed to the truck accident, they may be named as defendants in the personal injury claim.
The experienced truck accident legal team at Case Barnett Law Corporation will be able to identify and target all of the potential defendants in your claim.