What You Need to Know After a Truck Accident
To avoid large trucks on the roadways is nearly impossible—particularly on California freeways. Due to their significant size and weight, colliding with a tractor trailer can produce catastrophic injuries and property damage. Consequently, it is not uncommon for truck accident claims to result in high settlements or court judgements.
Typically, serious truck accidents are caused by more than one factor and working with an experienced and skilled personal injury lawyer can be critical to distilling the factors that contributed to the accident and recovering the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to.
What are the most common causes of truck accidents in California?
Back in 2007, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a comprehensive study on the causes of large truck crashes, focusing on serious accidents involving trucks that weighed 10,000 pounds or more.
The study revealed that 87% of large truck crashes involved one of four critical reasons: driver decision, driver recognition, driver performance, and driver non-performance. Of these factors, the most common reason was driver decision—when a driver did something like followed another vehicle too closely, exceeded the speed limit, or failed to engage their brakes.
In addition, truck accidents may be caused by:
- Driver fatigue
- Distracted driving
- Overloaded trucks
- Roadway obstructions
- Poor truck maintenance
- Violations of safety regulations
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Medical conditions of the driver
Being aware of these various factors is useful to victims and their attorneys, as it can help them to identify the cause(s) of the truck accident that they were involved in, which is essential to proving negligence and recovering compensation.
What should I do after a large truck accident?
- Seek medical help.
If you are involved in an accident with a large truck or any other vehicle, you should seek emergency medical treatment right away. Even if you do not believe that you are injured, there are many different types of injuries to the head, neck, and spine, which may not cause immediate symptoms. While it may take several days for symptoms of injuries to develop, it is wise to be evaluated by a medical professional immediately.
- File a police report.
It is crucial to file a police report of the accident, as this document will be required to process your claim through insurance and necessary for potential litigation that may result from the accident.
- Document the scene and get witness statements.
If you are physically able, take photos of the scene of the accident, including all vehicles involved. If there were any witnesses to the accident, ask them for their contact information and a brief statement of what they saw.
- Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer.
If you have been injured by a truck accident or suffered serious property damage, it is wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer before you agree to speak with an insurance adjustor. It is the job of an insurance adjustor to pay out as little as possible on your claim and they may try to pressure you into accepting a settlement amount that is much less than what you are entitled to. To ensure that your best interests are protected, it is much better to find a personal injury lawyer you trust to handle settlement negotiations on your behalf.
Is my claim against the driver or the trucking company?
Depending on the facts involved in your case, your claim may be against the driver, the trucking company, or both. A claim against the driver will likely be based on negligence. In a negligence claim, you assert that the driver had a legal duty to drive as a reasonable prudent truck driver under the circumstances, they failed to drive reasonably, their failure caused the accident, and you suffered injuries, property damage, and/or lost wages as a result.
A claim against the trucking company may be filed on the basis of negligent hiring, if they knew or should have known that the driver did not have a valid commercial license or had a problem with drugs or alcohol. You may also be able to bring a negligence claim against the trucking company for improper maintenance of the truck or safety violations. Furthermore, the company may be held vicariously liable if the accident was caused by their employee who was acting in the scope of his or her employment.
To determine liability in a truck accident case, you should work with an experienced personal injury lawyer as the factors contributing to an accident may be complex and an in-depth understanding of each party’s potential liability under the law is necessary to recover proper compensation.
How much is my case worth?
Valuation of a truck accident claim is based on many different types of damages: medical bills, temporary or permanent disability, property damage, lost wages, emotional distress, and attorney’s fees. To a large degree, the value of your claim will depend most on the nature and extent of your injuries—what kind of injuries you suffered and how severe they are.
To prove the nature and extent of your injuries, you may need to provide the opinion of a medical expert. In an independent medical exam (IME), a medical expert—often a physician—will review your past medical history, medical records from the accident, and possibly perform a physical examination of you. The medical expert will then generate a report in which they opine your degree of partial or permanent disability in connection with each injury you suffered in the accident. They may also opine as to what future treatment your injuries are likely to require.
Do Not Face the Trucking and Insurance Companies Alone
If you or a loved one have been injured in a truck accident, it is important to be supported by the advice and advocacy of a skilled personal injury lawyer. At Silverthorne Attorneys, our team has successfully handled countless truck accident cases and would be glad to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.
You do not need to and should not face a trucking company or insurance adjusters alone. Silverthorne Attorneys is here to stand beside you and handle your claim, so you can focus on healing and moving on with your life. Contact us today at (949) 234-6034.