We depend on commercial trucks to supply the goods and products we use every day. That means we also trust truck drivers with our safety on the roads.
But what happens when a truck driver is careless, negligent or reckless?
There’s no question that trucks are the biggest things on the roadway. Any time a truck is involved in a crash, particularly on I-5 or I-80 where high speeds are normal, there is a potential for catastrophic injury.
If you have been hurt in an accident involving a semi-truck, big-rig or other commercial truck, you could be entitled to financial compensation that helps pay for your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses resulting from your injuries.
Many truck-versus-car accidents are caused by negligence or carelessness. Some of the most common causes include:
Every member of the trucking industry must follow rules and regulations that come from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA. These rules and regulations have been designed to keep truckers and other motorists safe on the roads.
When truck drivers or trucking companies break these rules, which happens more often than you may think, everyone on the road is at risk.
Sometimes truckers and trucking companies break the rules to keep deliveries on (or ahead of) schedule; sometimes people are trying to maximize their profits. Many trucking companies pay drivers by the mile; that means the more they drive, the more they make.
However, truckers are subject to certain rules of the road. The rules vary for different types of trucks, but in all cases, there are limits on the number of consecutive hours drivers may drive. There also rules about how long drivers must rest between shifts.
According to the Federal Motor carrier safety administration, trucks that carry nine or more passengers are considered passenger-carrying vehicles. Drivers of passenger-carrying vehicles are allowed a maximum of 10 hours on the road each day, and they can only drive after eight consecutive hours of rest.
In some cases, drivers are allowed on the road a maximum of 15 hours per day, but again, this is only after eight consecutive hours of rest.
In any seven-day workweek, drivers of passenger-carrying trucks are only permitted a total of 60 hours on the road. If a driver is behind the wheel for eight consecutive days, he or she may not exceed 70 hours of driving.
Drivers who are carrying commercial goods in their trucks may not spend more than 11 hours driving each day. Truck drivers carrying property can only drive this much after they’ve had 10 consecutive hours off duty.
In some cases, drivers are allowed a maximum of 14 hours on the road after having 10 consecutive hours off duty.
The most a property carrying truck driver may drive during a seven-day period is 60 hours. During an eight-day period, truck drivers may not drive more than 70 hours.
In some cases, the truck driver is not at fault for the accident. Sometimes truck equipment is defective or maintenance was done improperly. In these cases, your lawyer may have to prove that another company or entity is responsible for your injuries.
Determining who is at fault in a truck accident is usually just a matter of deciding who was careless or negligent.
In order toshow that the other driver was at fault for an accident, your lawyer must prove:
Because every truck driver on the road is required to be reasonably careful at all times, it will be up to your attorney to prove that the driver wasn’t careful and that his or her actions (or inaction) caused your injuries.
Your lawyer may need to see police reports, examine photographs of the scene and talk to witnesses. Your attorney may also bring in an expert who can reconstruct the accident to show that the truck driver was at fault.
Because trucks are so large, they have the potential to cause catastrophic damage. Some of the most common injuries sustained in truck accidents include:
In the most tragic cases, truck accidents can even result in death.
If you intend to sue the person or company responsible for your injuries, your medical records will be a very important part of your case. Your lawyer will use them to show what you have suffered – and the extent of your injuries – that are all due to the truck driver’s negligence.
Make sure you obtain copies of all your medical records, including treatment plans, medical bills, and histories of any procedures that you have had since the accident.
Under no circumstances should you sign a release that allows an insurance company to view your medical records. If an insurance company requests that you sign such a release, decline and tell your lawyer immediately.
Most car accident cases in Sacramento and the rest of California settle outside of court. This is often the best option, because it saves you from the trauma of having to testify in court about the accident in your injuries.
If your lawyer and the insurance company can reach a fair settlement, you will be given the opportunity to accept it or decline it. It’s best to follow your attorney’s guidance on this matter, but the decision is ultimately yours.
If the insurance company is not willing to compromise with you, you and your lawyer may decide to take the case to court. A judge and jury will decide on fair compensation for the injuries you have suffered. The insurance company will then have to abide by up the judge’s order.
No matter what an insurance adjuster says, he or she has one job: to preserve the company’s profitability. If they have to pay you as part of a trucking accident claim, their profits shrink.
You should not talk to insurance adjusters, even if they are representing your own insurance company.
When an insurance company calls you, refer them to your attorney. He or she will be able to field their questions and ensure that you don’t inadvertently jeopardize your case.
Time is not on your side when it comes to filing a lawsuit over a personal injury claim, no matter how catastrophic your injuries. The statute of limitations is very strict, so it’s best that you contact a Sacramento truck accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
You only have two years from the date of your injury to file a personal injury claim. If you didn’t discover your injury right away, then you only have one year to file a claim.
We can help you recover damages if you or someone you care about was injured in a truck accident on California roads.
You don’t have to do this alone – we are here for you.
Call us at 916-303-2800 for a free case evaluation now. You could be entitled to financial compensation that helps pay for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering, and if you are, we can help you get it.
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