gravel hauler dump truck on highwayWhether you’re involved in a crash with a semi-truck, a tanker, a cement truck, a garbage or dump truck, or a tractor-trailer, you’ll likely suffer catastrophic injuries due to the sheer size and weight of the vehicle. In 2020, there were nearly 415,000 crashes involving large trucks in the U.S., and over 100,000 were injury crashes. If you were hurt in a Laguna Beach truck accident, you need a skilled truck accident attorney from Case Barnett Law.

Causes of Laguna Beach Truck Accidents

While some truck crashes are caused by equipment failure, driver error affects most crashes. The Large Truck Crash Causation Study, which sampled over 950 crashes involving large trucks, found that truck driver error was a critical cause of 87% of crashes.

Ways Truck Drivers Are Negligent in a Truck Accident

Collecting Evidence for Your Truck Crash Injury Claim

Insurance companies work hard to delay and deny the personal injury claims of victims. Thus, it’s critical to have strong, solid evidence to help prove your case. A thorough investigation and strong evidence are needed to ensure you have the best chance of a successful outcome. Your attorney may have to hire expert witnesses and accident reconstruction experts to help determine the cause of the accident.

Evidence to Help Prove Liability in a Truck Accident

  • Shipper documents. These documents give information about the cargo, including the types of items, their weight and size, and how the cargo was loaded onto the truck. The bill of lading (BOL) document describes the necessary handling instructions, especially if the items need special storage or care or if more than one person or some machinery is needed to move them.
  • Inspection records. These documents will reveal whether the truck driver performed the required truck inspection before the trip.
  • Emails. There may have been an email exchange between the trucking company and the truck driver that shows a manager encouraged the driver to stay on the road longer than allowed.
  • Black box data. An attorney can obtain a court order to access black box data that might provide information about the truck driver’s speed at the time of the accident.
  • Truck driver’s personnel file. A trucker’s personnel file can show their driving record if they were cited for substance abuse use, their compliance with safety regulations, and the proper training to drive a truck. 

Maintenance Records: A Primary Source of Evidence

Many semi-truck accidents are a result of mechanical failure. Defects with truck tires, brakes, and wheels are often the primary cause of truck-vehicle crashes. This might be an engine stall out, brake failure, or a tire blowout. Also at fault are defects with the steering wheel and the truck’s electronic systems.

It’s vital that your attorney obtain the truck’s maintenance records to help prove the truck’s mechanics played a primary role in the crash. However, even if mechanical failure did not factor into the accident, the truck’s maintenance record can still help in your case. 

Ways Your Attorney Can Use Maintenance Records in a Laguna Beach Truck Accident Claim

  • Your attorney will first look at the actual maintenance records for the truck. They’ll want to see if there were any performance issues with that particular truck, whether any components were broken or problematic, and if specific units had ever been replaced and why.
  • Your attorney will also see if the truck failed despite the trucking company’s compliance with maintenance regulations. If so, your lawyer can examine the truck manufacturer’s liability for creating a defective product.
  • Your attorney will determine the make and model of the truck to learn if there are special maintenance requirements for that truck. For example, if the truck should have had a tire rotation and didn’t and the tire tread is uneven or low, the trucking company could be found negligent if a tire blowout or the trucker’s inability to stop appropriately contributed to the accident.
  • Your attorney will interview the trucker to learn if they were aware of mechanical issues and told management about them, but management was slow to fix them. If management was aware of truck problems before the crash occurred, it could factor into your personal injury claim.
  • Your attorney may discover that the trucking company subcontracted maintenance work to a third party. If so, your attorney would want to obtain the records from that company.
  • Your attorney will also likely investigate the facility where the truck was inspected, as some facilities have been caught carrying out false inspections. Your attorney will talk to the technician who did the inspection to ensure they are qualified and did the job correctly.

Maintenance records are a critical part of providing evidence to prove your case. They provide a paper trail of all that’s been done or not done to ensure a safe vehicle. Suppose those records show that the trucking company or third party didn’t maintain its trucks appropriately, and that lack of attention factored into your crash. In that case, it’s beneficial evidence for a fair settlement

Compensation for a Truck Accident

When you’re in a Southern California truck accident, it’s essential to contact a Laguna Beach crash attorney right away. Insurance companies will contact you immediately after the crash and typically offer you a low-ball settlement. They may even try talking to you while you’re in the hospital. They know you’ll be worried about medical bills, and their offer may seem generous at the moment. But it won’t cover your medical expenses—now or in the future. Your truck accident attorney will help determine the full value of your damages, likely increase the amount of your settlement, and let the insurance companies know you’re serious about fair compensation

Possible Recoverable Damages When You Hire a Laguna Beach Truck Accident Attorney

Liability in a Truck Accident

You can still file a personal injury claim for damages if you're partially responsible for the truck accident. Under California law, you lose a percentage of the settlement equal to your percentage of fault. For example, if you are 30% at fault in a $100,000 claim, you will receive an award of $70,000.