An Experienced Truck Accident Lawyer in Orange, CA
When it comes to truck accidents, the injuries that are sustained are usually severe simply due to how large and massive these commercial vehicles are. The state of California employs one of the largest numbers of truckers in the country. As such, it’s not unsurprising to pass by one of these behemoths on the highway.
If you’re injured in a truck accident, you need to know where to turn to file a claim. There may be many parties at fault for a trucking accident, including the truck driver, truck manufacturer, or trucking company.
Because truckers are usually on the road to meet tight deadlines, passenger car drivers are at risk of a collision with one of these large vehicles. At Santiago Accident Lawyers, we have years of experience representing those who were severely injured in commercial truck accidents. If you’re injured in a truck accident, our Orange truck accident lawyers will walk you through how to file a claim, investigate who is liable for the injuries, and combat big insurance companies when they want to minimize the value of your claim.
What to Do After a Truck Accident
Oftentimes, the injuries that one sustains in a truck accident are severe. As such, the first thing you should do after a truck accident is check on your well-being and the wellness of your other passengers. If you or someone else is severely injured, call 911 to have the paramedics transport you and anyone else who’s injured to the hospital. If you’re not severely injured, you should take care to do the following:
- Obtain the truck driver’s information: In addition to their full name and contact information, be sure to get the name of the company they work for, motor carrier number (also referred to as an MC), and insurance information.
- Call the police: As noted earlier, you should always call the police if you or anyone else is significantly injured, but even if you’re not (or don’t believe you are), you should still call law enforcement. When they arrive on the scene, they will file a police report. This report will serve as evidence if you pursue a personal injury claim for compensation.
- Take photos or videos of the accident scene: Take as many pictures or videos of anything you think will be pertinent to your case. However, pay particular attention to road signs, road hazards, and weather conditions. The more information you have, the better.
- Document what happened: The driver of the truck or their company may try to argue that the events that unfolded didn’t happen as a way to get out of liability. Don’t let this happen. Document everything you saw and heard, as well as the date and time the accident occurred, weather conditions, and if you noticed any reckless or dangerous driving habits the trucker was engaged in.
- Notify your insurance company: Next, once you’ve taken care of everything else, put a call in with your insurance company to report the accident. Be wary of what the insurance adjuster says to you, as they will try to get an admission of fault from you. This is why you should contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a truck accident so they can speak with these insurance companies on your behalf.
Who’s Liable for a Truck Accident in Orange, CA?
As with all types of motor vehicle accidents, truck drivers owe a duty of care to other motorists. This duty of care involves obeying the speed limit, road signs, and other traffic laws, as well as using reasonable care when operating the vehicle and looking out for pedestrians. It also means avoiding reckless behaviors such as sudden lane changes, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating, and talking on or using a cell phone while driving.
If a truck driver fails to adhere to this duty of care, it is called a breach. This breach must then be the direct cause of another party’s injuries. For a valid claim to be filed for a trucking accident, the injured party’s damages must be compensable. in other words, they must have an economic value placed on them.
Many different entities could be responsible for a truck accident, including but not limited to the driver, owner of the truck, trucking company, or trucking manufacturer depending on what caused the accident. Here are common examples of trucking accident liability:
- The truck’s manufacturer could be responsible for an accident caused by defective tires, cargo ties, or accelerator pedals.
- The truck’s driver could be responsible for an accident if they are under the influence of alcohol, not yielding to the right of way, or abiding by safety regulations. Truck drivers must adhere to both state federal laws and regulations. Per Vehicle Code 21702 VC, truck drivers are not allowed to spend more than 12 consecutive hours on the road within a 24-hour period. However, despite this, some truck drivers and companies ignore this to meet deadlines and make more money.
- The trucking company could be responsible for improperly loading the truck, which poses a risk to everyone else on the road.
Your Orange truck accident lawyer will help you investigate what caused the truck crash to determine who is liable for your injuries. Under California law, all drivers involved in an accident can be held financially responsible for any injuries their negligent actions caused.
Common Causes of Truck Accidents
Some truck drivers may end up engaging in reckless driving behaviors to meet deadlines either on time or ahead of schedule. Doing this, though, comes with many risks, many of which result in severe or fatal accidents. The most common causes of truck accidents in Orange, CA include:
- Sleep deprivation: Many drivers are on the road for hours at a time with little to no rest, which can cause drowsiness. Fatigued driving is equivalent to driving while intoxicated.
- Driving under the influence: Even though blood alcohol content (BAC) levels of 0.08% are considered legally drunk, commercial truck drivers are considered intoxicated if they have a BAC of 0.04%.
- Not leaving enough space to turn: Truck drivers have a special license called a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) that renders them capable of making difficult turns while handling large vehicles. Unfortunately, if a driver underestimates the amount of space they have available, they can cause an accident.
- Improper lane switching: Due to the size of these vehicles, it’s possible for passenger cars to be in a truck driver’s blind spot. This is why passenger vehicles should always exercise caution when trying to pass a large commercial truck. However, trucks that fail to account for other vehicles or make sudden lane switches can sideswipe another vehicle, causing catastrophic injuries.
- Truck defects: Sometimes the manufacturer may be responsible for designing or producing faulty brakes, tires, or other motor parts.
- Improper loading: Usually caused by the trucking company, trucks that are improperly loaded can sway and tip over onto passing vehicles, causing severe harm and injury.
Common Truck Accident Injuries
As with any type of motor vehicle accident, the severity of injuries can range from minor to life-threatening or fatal. Due to their sheer size and weight, truck accident injuries are usually significant resulting in any of these severe injuries:
- Broken bones caused by powerful impact
- Traumatic brain injuries result from the head suffering blunt force trauma
- Severe lacerations results in permanent facial scarring, usually caused by shattered glass
- Spinal cord injuries sometimes causes full or partial paralysis
How to Determine the Value of a Truck Accident Claim
Truck accidents can be life-changing for victims. If they are paralyzed or suffer severe spinal cord injuries, they may be unable to return to work or unable to perform the same tasks or daily activities of living. These factors are used to determine the value of your truck accident claim.
The value of truck accident claims are determined based on the amount of time you’d be unable to work, lost wages, lost earning potential, current and future medical expenses, the extent of property damage suffered, and the overall severity of the injuries. These expenses are known as economic damages since they can be tied to a specific dollar amount.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are determined by a jury. These include everything from mental pain and anguish to loss of companionship if your loved one perished in an unexpected truck accident. These damages are much more difficult to place a dollar amount on, which is why hiring an experienced truck accident law firm in Orange to present this evidence in court is necessary.
Advantages of Hiring a Truck Accident Lawyer
After a truck accident, chances are you’re going to be hurt, so the last thing you need–or frankly, have time for–is to deal with the insurance company. Right now, you should be focusing on your recovery, which is why having the right team behind you can give you your best chances.
The right attorney will communicate with the insurance companies and investigate the details of your trucking accident claim to determine who is truly liable for your injuries. Once they have determined where liability falls, they will develop a comprehensive legal strategy to maximize your compensation award.
Furthermore, trucking accident lawyers are familiar with both California state and federal trucking laws so they won’t leave any stone unturned if the trucking owner or manufacturer tries to deny liability.