Did you know that commercial trucks weigh about 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger cars at approximately 80,000 pounds? Due to the vulnerability of people traveling in smaller cars, the impact of a truck accident can leave serious damage. Commercial truck drivers are often on the road for long periods of time, weeks or even months. Since they are paid to deliver goods, drivers are frequently working on tight deadlines. Due to the rough lifestyle of truck driving, many drivers have been reported to speed or fall asleep behind the wheel- causing serious accidents.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, you’ll need an experienced truck accident attorney by your side. Truck companies have their own lawyers fighting for their companies to ensure they either give you very little compensation or don’t pay you at all. Our experienced truck accident attorneys at Mesriani Law Group will negotiate aggressively on your behalf and ensure you get the maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us today to schedule your free legal consultation.
Here are shortcuts to the specific topics:
- 1. Commercial Truck Accident Lawyer
- 2. What Is Considered a Commercial Truck Accident?
- 3. What A Mesriani Truck Accident Attorney Will Do to Help
- 4. What to Do After a Truck Accident
- 5. Leading Causes of Truck Accidents
- 6. How Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accidents
- 7. Types of Truck Accident Lawsuits
William J. Kropach, Esq.
What Is Considered a Commercial Truck Accident?
A commercial truck or commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is a truck that is driven for business purposes rather than personal. These trucks are used to carry commercial goods or to help provide commercial services. There are various types of commercial trucks including a tractor-trailer, dump truck, flatbed, heavy hauler, refrigerator or reefer truck, semi-trucks, and heavy hauler. They’re also commonly referred to as big rigs or eighteen-wheelers.
Drivers must adhere to specific rules and regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These regulations are set in place to ensure the safety of the driver as well as drivers on the road. They cover topics such as standards for commercial licenses, truck insurance requirements, inspection and maintenance of trucks, working hours, and medical exam requirements. For example, drivers must pass a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical exam to ensure they are physically qualified to operate a truck. Additionally, most large trucks require drivers to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate.
What A Mesriani Truck Accident Attorney Will Do to Help
At Mesriani Law Group, our truck accident attorneys have the experience and resources to handle every aspect of your case. Our attorneys are extremely knowledgeable about the tactics used by insurance companies in an attempt to pay you the minimum compensation for your injuries. Working with our team of legal experts, we will investigate every aspect of your case and make sure you get the maximum compensation you deserve.
Once you become our client, we will start working on your case right away. This may include:
- Reviewing photos or video footage from the scene
- Interviewing witnesses
- Analyzing and reviewing medical records
- interviewing medical staff
- Consulting with experts to recreate the accident and reconstruct the truck crash scene
- Obtaining drug and/or alcohol tests from the truck driver
- Obtaining data from the truck’s “black box”; also known as the electronic control module (ECM) or an electronic data recorder (EDR)
Our attorneys will also make sure that any critical evidence is protected by sending a spoliation letter to the truck company. The spoliation letter requests the preservation of any relevant evidence. After receiving this letter, the opposing party must legally retain records of evidence relevant to the case (such as black box information or driver logs). As truck companies may destroy these records as a typical part of their business procedure, we typically send a spoliation letter immediately following an accident.
FIRST STEP: Determine if you have a claim
You must first prove that the other party or defendant was negligent resulting in your injuries. An example of negligence would be if a person failed to stop at a stop sign which in turn caused a vehicular crash injuring the driver.
SECOND STEP: Know your injuries and damages
By determining your property damage and physical injuries, you now know what to claim. The damages, injuries, pain and suffering you experienced due to the accident will matter greatly in monetizing your demand against the party at fault.
THIRD STEP: Gather evidence to support a claim
After the accident, it is crucial to gather evidence as soon as possible, this is to ensure that you have a concrete basis on your claims. An example would be a truck accident, the evidence includes a witness statement, pictures of the damages, the license plate of the cars involved, and so on.
FOURTH STEP: Secure liability
There are instances that it is unclear who is at fault or liable for the damages and injuries of the plaintiff if there are multiple people involved in the accident. This makes the filling and sustaining of a truck accident claim complicated, making it the best move to seek guidance from an experienced Los Angeles truck accident lawyer at Mesriani Law Group.
FIFTH STEP: Negotiate a settlement
Once the damages and injuries that you sustained are calculated, your lawyer will start to negotiate a settlement for your compensation. Depending on the situation this process can be quick and easy, but there are times that the insurance company refuses to settle. If this happens, Mesriani Law Group will make sure that the insurance company does not use bad faith insurance tactics while making sure that you get the maximum compensation that you deserve.
Why Choose Mesriani Law Group
What to Do After Truck Accident
Truck accidents can be complicated and may involve multiple parties. After a truck accident, make sure you follow these steps to protect your rights:
- Report the accident – Anyone involved in a vehicle accident must remain at the scene. Once you’re safe, move your car from the road and call the police. The police will take extensive notes as part of their accident report. Request a copy of the report for your records.
- Exchange information – Make sure you exchange insurance information with the other party on the scene. Document the driver’s name, address, phone number, insurance company, policy number, driver’s license number, and contact information for the truck company.
- Take photos – If you have a phone or camera, take pictures of the damage to your vehicle and your injuries. If any passengers are injured, be sure to take pictures of their injuries too.
- Seek medical treatment – It’s important that you seek medical care as soon as possible. Adrenaline may prevent you from feeling pain right away. Let a medical professional check and determine if you need medical treatment. Failure to seek medical care can negatively impact your ability to seek compensation for your injuries.
- Contact a truck accident lawyer – If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, you deserve compensation for any losses. Contact our top-rated Los Angeles truck accident attorney at Mesriani Law Group and get the justice you deserve.
Leading Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents can leave victims with serious injuries or even death. Although traffic laws and regulations are in place to reduce the number of truck-related accidents, they still occur too frequently. Some of the leading causes of truck accidents include:
- Driver fatigue – Truck drivers typically drive long distances and can out on the road for weeks or even months with little rest. Due to this, drivers can easily get fatigued from not having enough sleep causing them to lose control and coordination. Some drivers even end up falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Speeding – Drivers are often on a delivery time schedule so there are constantly racing against the clock. Issues such as poor weather or traffic may affect their timing which may cause drivers to speed.
- Distracted driving – Driving for long periods of time can get boring. Texting, talking on the phone, or checking social media are all considered distracted driving and can lead to an accident.
- Poorly maintained trucks – Commercial trucks must be properly inspected and maintained before driving on public roads. Some truck owners fail to do so either to save time, money or both. Due to this, some poorly maintained trucks are on the road and is one of the leading causes of truck accidents.
- Equipment failure – Although defective truck parts may not be the truck driver’s fault, it’s still dangerous. A truck accident attorney can tell you if the manufacturer, the trucking company, or the truck driver may be liable for your accident.
- Improperly loaded cargo – Commercial trucks must follow specific rules when securing cargo for transportation. For example, drivers must properly distribute and secure cargo. They must also secure all doors, spare tires, tailgates, and other equipment. The cargo must not obstruct the driver’s view and must not prevent the driver from freely moving legs or arms. Failure to properly secure cargo can be a safety hazard and cause serious accidents.
How Truck Accidents Differ from Car Accidents
FMCSA regulates the hours of service for commercial truck drivers. For example, property-carrying drivers are limited to driving a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off duty. However, trucking companies often give drivers financial incentives to drive longer miles or making faster deliveries. Unfortunately, this can impact the driver’s safety and the safety of other drivers on the road. Truck accidents are significantly different from car accidents due to the sheer size of the truck. Commercial trucks weigh roughly 80,000 pounds, about 20 to 30 times heavier than passenger cars. Other ways that truck accidents differ from car accidents include:
- More serious injuries – Injuries sustained from a truck accident may be much more serious compared to car accidents. Common truck accident injuries include head and brain injuries. Traumatic brain injury (TBI), blunt head trauma, and deep cuts to the face or scalp are also common.
- Bigger Insurance Policies – Truck drivers typically have larger insurance policies compared to passenger car insurance policies. In fact, they can be up to 50 times larger. Truck drivers’ insurance policies tend to have a total value of millions of dollars and the insurance companies will do everything they can to prove that their insured member isn’t responsible for the accident. Insurance adjusters may use strategic tactics to offer you compensation that may seem reasonable, but in reality, your case may be worth much more. With a trusted truck accident lawyer by your side, you can rest assured that you will get the maximum compensation for your injuries.
- Larger medical expenses – Treatment for truck-related accidents tend to cost more than car-related accidents. Victims may need emergency care, physical therapy, or surgery to treat their injuries. These medical expenses add up and can get very expensive.
- More property damage – Due to the weight of a commercial truck, an accident will likely result in more damage to nearby property compared to a car accident.
- Higher chance of death – According to the FMSCA, of the 37,133 fatal crashes on the road, 4,889 (2%) involved at least one large truck. 72% of people who died in a truck-related accident in 2017 were occupants of other vehicles.
Types of Truck Accident Lawsuits
There are numerous types of truck accidents including but not limited to:
Who Is Responsible After Truck Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a truck accident, there may be several parties who may be responsible for the accident. Liable parties may include:
- Truck driver
- Truck company
- Truck manufacturer
- Truck owner
- Cargo shipper
- Part maker
- Company leasing the trailer
- Company leasing the truck
How Negligence Is Established Following a Truck Accident
If you’ve been injured in a truck accident and want to pursue legal action to receive compensation, you will have to prove negligence on the responsible party. In other words, in order to receive compensation for your injuries, you will need to prove that another party is legally responsible for the harm you suffered. To establish general negligence, you will have to prove four elements which include:
- Duty – Proving that the other party owes you a duty
- Breach of duty – Proving that the other party breached its duty
- Causation – Proving that by breaching its duty, the responsible party caused harm or damage
- Damages – You must be able to show the extent of your damages or injuries
For example, your attorney may establish that a truck driver breached his or her duty of care and demonstrate that the breach of that duty directly caused your injuries.
Common examples of truck driver general negligence include but are not limited to:
- Distracted driving
- Falling asleep at the wheel
- Running a red light
- Impaired driving
- Poor judgment
- Aggressive driving
- Overloading cargo
- Hours of service violations
Additionally, truck drivers must obey all relevant FMCSA regulations. Failure to do so not only put themselves at risk but also the safety of others on the road. The FMCSA regulations that are part of a truck driver’s safety procedures are designed to mitigate negligent behavior and include:
- Maintaining an accurate logbook of hours worked and driven
- Documenting hours when breaks were taken
- Following scheduled maintenance requirements to ensure equipment meets legally mandated safety standards
- Ensuring the proper loading of the cargo
- Abstaining from controlled substances and alcohol
- Limiting hours driven to 10 hours per working day
Truck Accident Statute of Limitations
Truck accident victims must act quickly to bring their truck accident claim. Under California law, there is a two-year statute of limitations for truck-related accidents. In other words, victims have two years from the date of the truck accident or date of injury discovery to file a personal injury claim. Failure to file the claim within the statute of limitations will generally result in a claim being dismissed. Don’t hesitate to contact our Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyer today to preserve your legal rights.
Recovering Damages from a Truck Accident Lawsuit
Similar to other personal injury lawsuits, compensation for truck accidents fall into two categories: economic damages and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are tangible losses suffered by a victim. They’re typically documented and easily calculated. Common examples include:
- Current medical expenses – May include hospital or emergency room bills or surgery.
- Future medical care – Compensation for long-term or extended medical care.
- Lost wages – If you had to time take off from work due to the accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
- Property damage – Compensation for damages to your car.
Non-economic damages are more subjective compared to economic damages. They relate to harm or loss that isn’t supported by a receipt or other type of objective documentation. Common examples include:
- Pain and suffering – Compensation for the physical pain suffered by the victim as a result of the injuries from the truck accident.
- Wrongful death – Compensation may be awarded to a spouse, minor children, or parents due to the loss of services, assistance, or companionship of a loved one.
- Emotional distress – Compensation for the mental suffering induced by the truck accident.
In addition to economic and non-economic damages, victims may also be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages may be awarded if the defendant’s actions were intentional, malicious, reckless, or fraudulent. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and to prevent similar behavior in the future.
Truck Accident Statistics
- In 2019, 5,005 large trucks were involved in a deadly crash (2% increase from 2018 and 43% increase since 2010)
- Large trucks accounted for 10% of all vehicles involved in deadly crashes
- Large trucks accounted for 4% of all registered vehicles
- Large trucks accounted for 7% of all vehicle miles traveled
- 64% of crashes happened during the day
- In 2019, 118,000 large trucks involved in crashes resulted in an injury (5% increase from 2018)
- Since 2016, the number of large trucks involved in a deadly crash increased 16%
Contact A Mesriani Truck Lawyer Today
All commercial truck accident cases are handled on a contingency basis. We offer our clients a No Win No Fee policy. That means if we don’t win your case, you don’t pay us anything.
To discuss your claim with an experienced truck accident lawyer, contact our personal injury law office today. We serve clients in Los Angeles and throughout California. Get your case reviewed for free by contacting us today for a free consultation at (866) 500-7070.
Semi-Truck Accident Lawyer FAQs
What can I do to protect my rights after a truck accident?
The best way to protect your rights after a truck accident is to contact a truck accident lawyer. Your lawyer will help you navigate the legal process and inform you of your legal options. They will also advise you to seek medical attention right after the accident, refrain from speaking to anyone about the accident, refrain from communicating with the insurance companies, not accept a low settlement offer from the other party, and to file your claim before the statute of limitations expire. You’ll also be advised on the types of damages you may be entitled to.
What should I do in the days following a truck accident?
The first few days following a truck accident are the most important. Taking the correct actions in the first few days can significantly help your case. On the other hand, taking the wrong actions or inactions may hurt your case. In the days following a truck accident, the first thing you should do is to contact a truck accident attorney. They can start investigating your accident right away. Next, seek medical attention if you haven’t done so. It’s important to see a doctor so you can get a complete evaluation of your injuries. Follow your doctor’s medical advice and attend all follow-up appointments as necessary. Next, refrain from speaking with the other party’s insurance company. Once you’ve hired an attorney, your attorney will handle all communication with the insurance company. Finally, keep track of all costs associated with the accident which may include medical bills, vehicle damages, lost wages, prescriptions, and pain and suffering damages.
Why do I need an attorney for my truck accident claim?
A truck accident attorney can manage every aspect of your claim and advise you to take actions that is in your best interest. For example, truck accidents cases can be complicated since multiple parties could be held responsible. Determining the responsible parties is just one of the many things that an experienced truck accident attorney can help you with while you focus on your recovery. A skilled truck accident attorney has the experience to negotiate with multiple parties so you can get the maximum compensation you deserve. Additionally, an attorney will have the resources to quickly investigate your claim to preserve critical evidence. Timing is important when filing a truck accident claim so if you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck accident, make sure to contact a Los Angeles truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.
How long do I have to file a truck accident lawsuit in California?
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in California including truck accident lawsuits is two years from the date of the accident. If the injury was not discovered immediately, the victim has one year from the date the injury was discovered to file a lawsuit. Failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations can result in a case dismissal and you will lose your right to seek damages for your injuries.
How much is my truck accident claim worth?
The value of a truck accident case depends on various factors including the extent of your injuries and property damage. In California, victims of truck accidents may seek economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages can be easily calculated and include costs such as current medical expenses, future medical care, lost wages, and property damages. Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate because there are no receipts. They typically include compensation for pain and suffering, wrongful death, and emotional stress. Additionally, victims of truck accidents may be entitled to punitive damages. These damages may be awarded to punish the defendant and to prevent similar behavior in the future.