Getting involved in a trucking accident is one of the many risks motorists face when driving in California. Unfortunately, such collisions are not uncommon in Santa Monica and are often catastrophic. Many victims suffer debilitating injuries or even lose a loved one.
A Santa Monica truck accident lawyer from Greenberg Gross can work with you to file actions against the liable trucker to recover your expenses and other losses. Here is an overview of the different laws affecting your case and how our attorney can be of assistance.
Determining Liability in a Santa Monica Truck Accident
Truck drivers must act responsibly when operating their vehicles, as a truck’s size, weight, and cargo make it more destructive in accidents. A Santa Monica truck accident lawyer from our firm can investigate who to hold liable for the accident, as the truck employer may also be at fault.
Besides complying with general traffic rules such as speed limits and anti-distracted driving laws, truckers must also obey motor carrier safety regulations, which are a mix of federal and state laws. Some of these are as follows:
Alcohol and Drug Use Restrictions
Employers should have their drivers undergo drug and alcohol testing before employment, trips, and randomly throughout the year. The employer can also test their staff if they suspect them of being drunk or under the influence of drugs. Moreover, drivers should abstain from drinking or using drugs while on the job, as intoxication can lead to recklessness on the road.
Weight Limits and Cargo Securement Standards
Overweight trucks cannot travel in Santa Monica and throughout California if they do not carry special permits. Furthermore, truckers must have their cargo loaded securely to prevent the loads from falling off the truck or causing the vehicle to tip over.
Regular Truck Maintenance
The truck owner must also routinely have their trucks serviced and inspected for issues. This helps prevent accidents caused by trucks suddenly breaking down on the road.
How to Recover Truck Accident Damages in Los Angeles County
Truck accident victims can usually pursue compensatory damages by filing a liability claim with the truck owner or driver. They can proceed with a lawsuit if a liability claim does not work. Either way, a successful settlement lets you recover damages such as:
- Hospital bills, prescription medications, treatments, and other medical expenses
- Automobile repairs or replacements
- Lost wages or business income
- Funeral expenses for those with deceased loved ones
- Chronic pain and psychological trauma
- Disabilities and disfigurements
Your Santa Monica truck accident lawyer can assist with the tasks involved in building your case, such as:
- Collect evidence of the crash, such as accident reports, highway surveillance videos, and witness statements.
- Compile records of the damages suffered, such as medical records, doctors’ testimonies, and photographs of your damaged vehicle.
- Estimate your economic and non-economic damages by compiling your relevant expenses and assessing your injury’s severity.
- Comply with your case’s statute of limitations. Filing for injury damages has a two-year deadline (California Civil Procedure Code Section 335.1), while property damage cases have a three-year time limit.
Filing a Truck Liability Insurance Claim
Owners with trucks traveling in Santa Monica are required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and California Vehicle Code Section 34631.5 to carry liability insurance. The coverage will pay their victims’ expenses if the truck driver or owner’s negligence leads to accidents.
However, the truck owner’s coverage only extends to accidents that happen while the driver is on the job. If, for instance, the truck driver used the vehicle for personal errands, their own auto liability coverage must cover them.
Your truck accident lawyer can bring the claim on your behalf and help negotiate with the insurance provider if you find their initial settlement offer unfair.
Take a Lawsuit to Court
As mentioned earlier, trucking accident victims can proceed with a lawsuit if the liability claim does not work. Some instances where your truck accident lawyer might suggest this option include:
- If the truck driver or owner’s coverage cannot compensate you fully
- The trucker is uninsured
- The driver caused the accident on purpose (insurance providers are unlikely to cover claims caused by intentional actions)
In a truck accident lawsuit, the civil court will review the case using the statements and evidence provided by both sides of the dispute. Then, they will decide how much you can recover from the driver.
Since your truck collision happened in Santa Monica, you must file the lawsuit at the Santa Monica Courthouse. Due to the various procedures involved in a lawsuit, it can take a long time to reach a verdict. However, your truck accident lawyer can serve as your legal representative for the entire case.
Partial Liability’s Effect on Your Recovery
California uses a comparative negligence rule with injury cases. This means you could recover less than your total damages if you are partly to blame for your injuries and other damages. The deducted amount depends on your fault percentage.
For example, suppose the truck driver is at fault for violating the mandatory hours of service for motor carriers, causing them to fall asleep at the wheel. However, the court finds you 45 percent liable for not yielding to the driver. That means the driver only owes you 55 percent of your total settlement.
Reviewing your case with our truck accident lawyer could help reduce the liability placed on you. In addition, the attorney can check for problems such as insufficient evidence and inconsistent statements.
Our Accident Attorneys Are Here for You
Greenberg Gross is always here to assist truck accident victims who want to recover damages from a liable trucker here in Santa Monica. Since 2013, we have worked with clients throughout California on various injury practice areas, ranging from abuse to auto accidents. Our team has the experience and knowledge to thoroughly assess your case and guide you on your course of action.
Call us for your free consultation with a team member.