In the year 2020, there were 107,000 commercial trucks involved in accidents that resulted in injury or death in the United States. California has one of the highest rates of truck accidents in the country.
An accident with a truck can have a horrible impact on a person’s life. You may suffer permanent injury, loss time from work, or lose a loved one to a trucking accident. Medical bills for injuries related to a trucking accident can be astronomical, as well as your lost wages.
If you have been injured in an accident due to the negligence of a commercial truck driver, the attorneys at Caputo and Van Der Walde can help you get compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering.
Our team of trained attorneys and paralegals have years of experience in personal injury law. Named Lawyers of Distinction 2022 & 2023, our firm is dedicated to meticulously researching every case we take on. Our attorneys are well-versed in negotiating with insurance companies and are successful trial lawyers.
What is Unique About Truck Accidents
There are 13 million trucks registered in the United States. Semi-trucks, big rigs, box trucks, and moving vans are all considered commercial trucks. When these vehicles get into an accident, they often collide with more than one vehicle. A truck accident can have a devastating impact on the environment and the community.
Commercial drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers on the road. Professional drivers need a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to get a job. They must pass a drug test to get the job and are given random drug tests. It is also mandatory that trucking companies possess significant liability insurance.
Interstate truck drivers must pass extensive background checks and a physical exam given by a doctor approved by the Department of Transportation.
When a trucker has an accident with injuries or damage to a vehicle that requires towing, the trucking company must make a report to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).
If your accident was caused by the negligence of a truck driver, you will file a claim with their insurance carrier. If your injuries are severe, or if they do not have insurance, you can sue the trucking company.
Types of Commercial Truck Accidents
The FMCSA reports that 72% of people injured in trucking accidents are passengers of other vehicles. There are several types of accidents in which trucks are often involved:
Many commercial trucks consist of a cab and a trailer attached by a fifth-wheel connector. When the two parts fold over at the connector, they form the shape of a pocket knife that is partially open. This is called a jackknife.
Jackknife accidents occur when a driver tries to turn or change lanes too quickly or at too wide an angle. The trailer skids and folds into the cab. When a trailer skids into traffic, it often hits several cars. Most of a commercial semi-truck’s weight is in its trailer, which can do major damage to passenger vehicles.
As the name indicates, a rollover accident happens when a commercial vehicle rolls over onto its back or side. This most often happens on a curved road. The centrifugal force of the truck makes it lean in the opposite direction of the curve. If a truck is not loaded properly, the centrifugal force will be so great that it will cause the truck to topple over.
In most cases, rollover accidents are the fault of companies that do not load the vehicles correctly. Drivers who do not handle turns properly may also be at fault. When a commercial vehicle rolls over, it may crush vehicles in its path, trapping the car and driver underneath. It can cause cars on the road to crash into one another. If cargo spills, it often causes major damage to the road.
A head-on collision takes place when two vehicles crash into one another from the front. When one of those vehicles is a truck and the other is a passenger car, the impact on the car will be devastating.
Head-on collisions take place when one vehicle enters the opposite vehicle lane. It can happen when a truck travels the wrong way down a one-way street, or when a driver turns too wide and drives into the lane of a vehicle headed in the opposite direction. It also occurs when a truck passes a vehicle on a single-lane highway.
Rear-end accidents are caused by tailgating, or an inattentive or careless driver. A driver should always stay four seconds behind the car in front of them. If a driver does not maintain this distance and the car in front of them stops suddenly, the two will crash.
Truckers should maintain a longer distance. Because of their weight, they can cause far more damage if they rear-end the car in front of them. A car rear-ended by a truck will often be forced into the vehicle in front of them. A car may also roll under a truck if it rear-ends it.
Causes of Semi-Truck Accidents
Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a cause of many motor vehicle accidents. Commercial truckers often take drugs to stay awake for long hours.
Truck drivers are only allowed to drive for 11 consecutive hours. Some trucking companies will pressure drivers to work longer hours. Driving long hours leads to fatigue which causes accidents.
Typical Commercial Truck Accident Injuries
The injuries resulting from a commercial trucking accident will almost always be more severe than injuries from a passenger vehicle accident.
Traffic accidents often result in broken bones, back injuries, and neck injuries, such as whiplash.
Traumatic brain injury, paralysis, spinal cord injuries, and the loss of limbs are also typical. Even though commercial truckers are required to have $750,000 in liability coverage, it will often not be enough to pay a person’s bills after they have been injured in a commercial trucking accident.
Filing an Insurance Claim
Filing truck accident claims after a crash is a bit more complex than filing a claim with an insurance company after an accident with another car. Because the medical bills are normally higher, the insurance adjuster will often require very detailed documentation of medical expenses.
You should always consult a personal injury lawyer before making your truck accident claim. An experienced California Commercial Truck Accident Lawyers will help you gather the evidence you need for the insurance company. The insurance company needs to see:
- The accident report
- Witness Statements
- Photos from the accident
- The driver’s toxicology report
- Your medical bills
- Documentation of lost wages
- Documentation of other accident-related expenses.
You may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering after you have been in an accident with a commercial truck. Personal injury attorneys often recommend keeping a diary to document how your life has changed after an accident.
When you visit the office of Caputo and Van Der Walde for a consultation, one of our attorneys will tell you how much your case is worth. We will guide you through the process of turning in your documentation and answering the insurance company’s questions.
Once an insurance adjuster has investigated your claim, they will make you a settlement offer which might be too low. Our attorneys have many years of experience negotiating with insurance companies. We will fight hard to get you properly compensated.
Filing a Truck Accident Lawsuit
There are some situations in which a truck accident case may have to go to court. If an insurance company refuses to pay you your due, you may have to sue them. If a trucking company’s insurance will not cover the amount of your bills, you may have to sue the trucking company.
A lawsuit begins with filing a case in the appropriate court. Caputo and Van Der Walde will handle filing your case, notifying the plaintiff of the suit, and serving them with paperwork.
We will continue to negotiate on your behalf through the trial process.
The Importance of Researching a Case
When your case enters the discovery phase, the attorneys for the two sides must share information. We will thoroughly research the documentation that the plaintiff gives us and subpoena any records necessary to win your case.
The Results of a Lawsuit
There are two possible outcomes when one party files a lawsuit against another: the parties will settle out of court or go to trial.
Although most cases settle out of court, our attorneys thrive in the courtroom and have won many large settlements for our clients. We know what facts will work to make a jury understand why our client deserves compensation.
The California Truck Accident Lawyers You Need
Caputo and Van Der Walde offer free consultations. We work on a contingency basis, so you will not have to pay anything unless you win your case. Our top-rated and experienced truck accident lawyers treat every case with the utmost seriousness and attention to detail. We can provide you with stellar references from our many successful clients.
Getting into an accident is one of the most devastating life events a person can go through. Receiving fair compensation for your injuries will enable you to move on with your life. Call us today.