Trucking collisions have remained a prevalent issue in California throughout the years. Not only can they lead to major property damage, but they are more prone to severe injuries and fatalities than a conventional vehicular accident. Fortunately, victims can seek compensation from those at fault for such incidents.
If you were involved in a recent truck collision anywhere, consider consulting with an attorney first. It is part of their job to study the laws relevant to such accidents and can guide you better on what you can do. First, let us review some of these rules and discuss the different ways a California truck accident lawyer from Greenberg Gross can assist you.
How Can a California Trucker Be at Fault for the Accident?
Like other vehicular accidents, California truckers can cause crashes due to negligence. For instance, they might have exceeded the speed limit or been distracted by texting while driving. However, our California truck accident lawyer can also check the federal and state motor carrier regulations that truck owners and employers must comply with. They can reveal exactly how the trucker is at fault in the accident.
Some of these regulations include:
- Routine Maintenance: The trucks must be regularly inspected and serviced to prevent breakdowns during trips.
- Hours of Service: Drivers must take their mandatory breaks after working a specific number of hours.
- Weight Limit and Permits: Trucks must not exceed California’s weight limits unless they have special permits to do so.
- Commercial Driver’s License: Drivers must carry valid commercial driver’s licenses to operate trucks legally in California.
- Anti-Drug and Alcohol Measures: Federal and state laws also prohibit drivers from drinking or using drugs on the job. Moreover, employers must conduct random testing throughout the year or when they suspect the driver is intoxicated.
Insurance Requirements for California Trucks
Under California Vehicle Code Section 34631.5 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), California truck owners must carry liability insurance for their trucks. This pays the victims for the damages caused by their trucking accidents.
You can file a claim with their liability insurance provider to cover your expenses. The California truck accident lawyer can help you compile the evidence needed to support your statements, such as videos of the accident, photos, and medical records of the injuries you suffered.
There is a chance the insurance company might offer a smaller amount than expected. This can happen if they try to downplay their client’s fault. If you disagree with the claim adjuster’s original offers, your truck accident attorney can help appeal for a favorable settlement.
Damages Covered by California Truck Liability Coverage
Some of the expenses you can get compensated for by a successful truck liability claim include the following:
- Hospital bills, medications, medical procedures, and other medical expenses
- Auto repairs or replacements
- Replacement services (such as cleaning, driving, caregiving, and childcare services hired while recovering from your injuries)
- Lost wages or income while unable to work or manage your business
- Funeral and burial services for those who lost loved ones in the accident
The truck accident lawyer can also help compile the records of your expenses to estimate your financial damages. However, you can also recover damages for your pain and suffering. This typically depends on how severe your injuries are, which the lawyer can assess to determine how much you could receive. Some of these pain and suffering or non-economic damages include:
- Loss of consortium
- Chronic physical pain
- Disabilities and disfigurements (for instance, you got paralyzed from the waist down or had to get a limb amputated)
- Psychological trauma
- Loss of enjoyment of life
When Is a California Truck Driver Not Covered by Company Insurance?
A California trucking company’s liability coverage only protects drivers from crashes occurring while on duty. If the trucking accident happened while the truck driver was off duty, their personal coverage must pay for the damages. Regular motorists must still carry liability coverage as required by the state’s motor vehicle insurance laws.
When a Truck Accident Liability Claim Might Not Work
A truck accident liability claim might not work out for you for various reasons. For example, the truck driver’s personal coverage might be insufficient. Another is if the driver purposefully caused the accident—insurance companies usually do not cover intentional tort claims.
Your truck accident lawyer could suggest filing accident lawsuits in such cases. With a suit, the civil court will review the case, not a claims adjuster. Insurance policy limits do not restrict courts, so you could recover a higher amount, even if this means the driver or owner must pay with personal assets.
You can bring the lawsuit to the county courthouse that has jurisdiction over the area where the accident happened. The truck accident lawyer can represent you in court until the case gets a verdict.
Partial Liability Reduces Recoverable Damages
Do note you might not recover the full value of your trucking accident settlement due to California’s comparative fault rules. If you are partly responsible for your injuries, your recovery will get deducted based on your fault percentage.
Suppose that in your lawsuit, the trucking company is 75 percent liable for not securing their cargo according to safety standards, causing it to fall on the road and crash into your car. However, you are also 25 percent liable for speeding, exacerbating the crash’s impact. That means the truckers only owe you 75 percent of the damages.
Statutes of Limitations for California Truck Accident Actions
Depending on the damages you want to recover, your California trucking accident case can have the statute of limitations in California Civil Procedure Code Section 335.1 or California Civil Procedure Code Section 338. This means that:
- For injury-related damages, you must file within two years, while
- Property damage actions have a three-year deadline
Your lawyer can assist with your pending tasks and monitor your progress to ensure you can file on time, as failure to do so automatically dismisses the case.
Our Lawyers Want to Advocate for You
Due to the various laws that could affect California trucking collision cases, pursuing damages from the at-fault truck owner or driver can quickly become complex. Here at Greenberg Gross, we understand the struggle that accident victims often go through to get compensated. That is why our doors are always open to those in need of legal assistance and representation.
Having served California’s injury and accident victims since 2013, our team has experience with various injury practice areas, including truck accidents. You can get a free evaluation with a team member by calling or sending your accident details here.