Like the rest of California, San Diego has its fair share of truck accidents. However, trucks are much more dangerous than typical cars due to their massive size and cargo weight. This is especially true if they are transporting hazardous material.
If you were in a trucking accident, you have the right to file for damages against the trucker at fault. Here is a look into the rules affecting your case and how a San Diego truck accident lawyer from Greenberg Gross can assist with taking legal action.
How San Diego Truckers Can Be Liable
Apart from following traffic laws, San Diego truck owners and drivers must comply with federal and state motor carrier safety regulations. Failure to do so can be grounds for liability in a truck accident. Some of these laws include:
- Cargo Securement: The trucker must secure their cargo according to safety standards.
- Weight Limits: California requires trucks to have a special permit if they exceed the state’s weight limits.
- Hours of Service: Truck drivers can only drive up to a certain number of hours before taking their mandatory breaks.
- Drug and Alcohol Prohibitions: Drivers must not use substances that could impair their driving ability, such as drugs and alcohol. Trucking employers must conduct drug and alcohol testing before permitting drivers to travel.
- Licensing: Truck drivers should have valid commercial driving licenses to drive trucks in California, including in San Diego.
- Maintenance: The trucks must undergo routine inspections and maintenance to ensure roadworthiness.
A San Diego County truck accident lawyer from our firm studies a wide range of relevant laws in your case, including trucking regulations. Thus, they can also check the statutes to see how the trucker is liable for the accident.
You Can File Liability Claims First
Both California Vehicle Code Section 34631.5 and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require truck owners to carry liability insurance for their trucks when operating in California. The rule also extends to San Diego truckers. That means you can typically file a liability claim with their insurer.
If a liability claim is successful, you would be able to recover damages such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages or business income
- Vehicle repairs
- Funeral expenses (If filing on behalf of a deceased loved one)
- Emotional trauma
- Disabilities and disfigurements
- Loss of consortium
When Does the Truck Driver’s Liability Coverage Apply?
Although truck owners must have the trucks insured, the liability coverage only protects their drivers if an accident occurs while on the job. If the driver caused the trucking accident off duty, their personal coverage should cover your damages. Liability coverage is also mandatory for regular motorists, though the minimum required limits are far lower than those for trucks.
Regardless of who the liable party is, your truck accident lawyer can help gather evidence of the accident and the injuries or property damage suffered as a result. This includes videos, photographs, crash reports, witness testimonies, and medical records. They can also estimate your potential settlement value by compiling the documents of your expenses.
The accident lawyer can then assist with filing your claim with the liable insurance company. If you disagree with the claim adjuster’s initial settlement offers, your lawyer can also help you negotiate for a fairer amount.
Filing an Accident Lawsuit Is Also an Option
Your truck accident lawyer might advise you against filing a liability claim after reviewing the entire situation. For instance, the truck driver might have caused the accident on purpose, making it highly unlikely for their insurance provider to cover them. Another is if they do not have enough coverage to pay for the damages or are uninsured.
You can bypass these limitations with a truck accident lawsuit because the San Diego Superior Court will preside over the case. They will determine the amount you can recover, not an insurance claims adjuster.
The truck accident attorney can also assist with the lawsuit filing process and represent you if the case goes to trial.
Statute of Limitations for San Diego Truck Accident Actions
All truck accident cases, including yours here in San Diego, have filing deadlines that you must strictly follow. Failure to file your action on time will result in automatic dismissal. This bars you from recovering any damages, even if you can prove the truck driver was at fault.
If you file for injury-related damages, you have two years to do so (California Civil Procedure Code Section 335.1). Meanwhile, property damage actions have a three-year time limit. The San Diego truck accident lawyer can help track your progress with the case and assist with unfinished tasks to see to it that you can file on time.
They can also check for tolling exceptions which could move your deadline. For example, if the liable truck driver fled California, the statute timer would not count the time spent away from the state.
Comparative Negligence Rules in San Diego Truck Accident Settlements
California follows a comparative fault rule in tort actions. As such, successfully proving the other side’s liability in a San Diego truck accident case does not automatically mean you get a full settlement. If the claims adjuster or court finds you partially responsible for the damages you suffered, they will deduct the recoverable amount based on how liable you are.
For instance, suppose evidence reveals you were over the speed limit when the accident happened. The other side argues that had you not been speeding, the impact would not have been so devastating for you. The court then declares you 35 percent liable. This means you can only recover 65 percent of your damages.
Reviewing everything before filing can help determine whether you can support your claims effectively. The less the opposing party can use against you, the lower the risk of getting more blame placed on your side.
Find Legal Assistance with Our Lawyers
If you were recently in a San Diego trucking accident, know that Greenberg Gross is ready to provide legal assistance. Since our firm’s founding in 2013, we have handled diverse injury, abuse, and accident cases throughout California, including truck collision cases in San Diego. Our team can use their knowledge and resources to help fight for your right to compensation.
You can call us or leave a message on this site to request a consultation with a compassionate team member.