The California Truck Accident Guide was created by our attorneys to help residents obtain maximum compensation from the negligent party. If you have been seriously injured, contact our office for a free consultation.
If you have been involved in a truck accident in Los Angeles, you may initially be in shock before your injuries set in. This is an experience that we wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Trucks carry tons upon tons of weight and when they crash into passenger vehicles, it can be truly terrible. It is absolutely terrible that insurance companies hope to maintain the bottom line when you come asking for rightful compensation. You deserve to be compensation, but unfortunately, they don’t want to give it to you. That is when having a great attorney comes in handy. Upon seeking a consultation, you will find that our Los Angeles truck accident attorney, Mindy Bish, cares about you and your recovery. She will fight the insurance company tooth and nail to get you what you are entitled to.
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Causes of Truck Accidents
Truck accidents are caused for a number of reasons and that is why it is sometimes harder to find the liable party. You could have a situation where the driver did everything right, but the truck itself caused to accident because it was not properly situated by a company shipping their goods. It’s also possible that a truck accident occurs because a driver other than yourself caused them to crash into you. Often times, it is as simple as the driver of the truck being far overworked, making errors, or sometimes above the legal limit for BAC. There are ways to discover the at fault party that our attorney will know how to do. There may be multiple people responsible for your accident who owe you compensation, and without an attorney, you may not have been able to find that out.
The most common causes of truck accidents are:
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Drunk driving
- Improperly maintained truck
- Overweight load
- Driver error
Truck drivers have special licenses that require they know how to handle a heavy truck. They should know that speeding is extremely dangerous as it takes far longer for them to stop their truck and that can cause an accident. It is scenarios such as these that put the driver of the truck at fault for the accident. If the truck driver was drunk, you can go after punitive damages as well as compensatory damages.
How Compensation Works
The first thing that everyone should know about truck accident cases in California is that you will be able to receive compensation even if you are found partially at fault for the accident. You cannot, however, be deemed completely and entirely the cause of the accident and still receive compensation. But if you are 20% at fault, you will. The only catch is that you will have your award reduced by that amount. Let’s say you are awarded $100,000 for your injuries, and you are 20% at fault. You would be allowed to collect $80,000 from the award. Therefore, when insurance companies want to know about the accident and your injuries, it is best not to talk to them to avoid getting pegged as the at fault party. Once we understand that, and determine fault, we can go after the compensation.
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In order to know how much your case is going to be worth, we have to determine just how injured you are and how long you are going to be affected by this. We encourage patience in this process. If you are taking a very long time to heal, it is better to know the full extent of your injuries and get complete compensation because you were patient rather than get a low settlement because you were not patient with the process.
It is wise to have an attorney for the reason that you do not want to be at risk of getting taken advantage of. With truck accidents, your injuries are probably very severe. You may need surgery, and you may need to have pain medication. The insurance company of the liable party knows this and will try to call you when you are your most vulnerable and likely to slip up and say the wrong thing. They will ask you questions about the accident in a way that makes it seem like you caused that accident. At all costs should you avoid making a comment for the insurance company. I would be hesitant to even tell the police too much about the accident to avoid this being deemed as your fault.
Frequently Asked Truck Accident Questions
What Should I Do After an Accident with a Truck?
I had a client come in to my office that was seriously injured in a wreck involving a commercial truck. She wanted to know what she needed to do. If you are seriously injured by a commercial truck, there are some basic things that need to be done. One, you need to obtain all the information available that you can regarding the collision. You need to try and get the license plate number, and the information of the other driver. If there’s a police report, you need to try and obtain that.
You need to seek medical treatment, get evaluated by a doctor, and follow that doctor’s recommendation and advice. You also should always consult with an attorney regarding the collision and your claims. They can help you identify any potential parties there may be to the claim.
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What Attorney Should I Hire?
A gentleman came to my office and wanted to know what he should consider when selecting an attorney for a collision that he was in with a commercial truck. Commercial trucks are different than regular trucks on the road, so when you’re involved in a collision with a commercial truck, different factors need to be taken into consideration. First of all, truck drivers of those big trucks are required to have a special license. They’re subject to a whole set of rules and regulations that the rest of us are not subject to. Additionally, trucking companies are also subject to a bunch of rules and regulations that they need to follow.
Quite often, you find out during discovery in litigation that those companies do not actually follow the rules; they take a lot of shortcuts involving their equipment, the hours that their drivers spend on the road, and things like that. It’s important to pick an attorney that is familiar with the different rules and regulations that apply to commercial drivers and commercial trucking companies.
Should I Talk to the Truck Insurance Company?
A client came to me after she had been involved in a collision with a commercial truck. She had been approached by the representative for the insurance company and was asked to speak with them regarding the collision. She wanted to know if that was something she should do.
If you are involved in a collision with a large commercial truck, it is never a good idea to speak with the representative for their insurance company or any attorney or representative from the company that employs the driver of the truck. They do not have your best interests in mind ever, and they will merely be there to try and gather evidence and position the facts in a light that is definitely not favorable to you. You should always seek the advice of counsel before giving any statement to any insurance company or representative from the employer of the trucking driver that hit you.
What Mistakes Can I Avoid to Make Sure My Case is Successful?
A young man came into my office that had been involved in a serious collision with a commercial truck. He made a common mistake that I see quite often. On the day of the collision, he sought emergency medical treatment at the hospital, but weeks had gone by and he had not followed up with any doctor, even though he was still in pain. People do this for a number of reasons. They think they’re going to get better, or maybe they don’t have a primary care doctor or they don’t have insurance. but it’s very important to seek medical care immediately after your injuries and to continue to treat for those injuries.
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Another common mistake I see is that people think that perhaps they can deal with the insurance company on their own and get the claim resolved themselves. I cannot emphasize how important it is to get an attorney that is experienced in this area of the law. Commercial trucking companies are subject to different rules and regulations, and it’s important to seek the advice of a professional, because an insurance company is never going to give you the full value of your case. Only a professional can help you do that.
Another common mistake I see people make is they don’t get enough information from the driver of the truck. They don’t get his employer’s information, license plate number, or a copy of the traffic collision report. These are all also very common mistakes that people make.
What Steps Do I Need to Take After My Accident?
I had a young lady come to my office after she had been hit by a commercial truck and she wanted to know what steps were needed for getting her claim started. First and foremost, it’s also always really important to consult with an attorney, especially one that’s highly skilled in this area. Those trucks these days quite often have little black boxes on them that record speed. There’s also driver’s logs that, quite often, the companies only retain the physical copies for 90 days. There’s information out there that you want to get as soon as possible before it gets destroyed.
An attorney can send letters and put those companies on notice that they need to retain that evidence for your claim. You want to gather as much documentation about the collision as you can. That includes taking photographs, getting the traffic collision report, and obtaining information on the trucking company that hit you. You also want to seek medical care as soon as possible and be sure to follow your doctor’s advice.
How Are These Cases Different Than Car Accidents?
A young lady came to me after she’d been injured by a commercial truck. We were discussing her case, and I was explaining to her that being hit by a commercial vehicle is different in a lot of respects than being hit by somebody driving a regular car or truck. Some of the ways those cases are different is that, one, commercial vehicles are usually a lot bigger, heavier, and carry a lot more force when they hit you as opposed to a regular vehicle.
Another way in which they’re different is that the drivers are professional drivers; they hold a Class A license, so they’re held to certain standards and rules that the rest of us aren’t obligated to follow. Trucking companies are also subject to a bunch of rules and regulations regarding the weight of their vehicles, the way that their vehicles have to be maintained, and inspections of those vehicles. Drivers have to keep logs. There is a whole host of different things that trucking companies have to adhere to under the law, and quite often, they don’t follow those rules or things get overlooked and it can really impact your case and the value of your case.
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Should I Accept an Offer from an Insurance Company?
I met with my client and he wanted to know if he should accept the trucking company’s offer on his case. He had been involved in a collision with a commercial trucking company and this was the first offer that the insurance company was making for his claim. I explained to him that, although it could be the insurance company’s best offer, in all likelihood, that is not the case. Most of the time, the first offer that comes from an insurance company for a trucking company is not the best offer, especially if that offer is coming early on in the claim or early on in the litigation. Quite often, what happens as litigation progresses and we discover and uncover more information about the company and their oversight, the value of the claim goes up. Generally, the first offer from a trucking company will not be the best offer and generally, it is my advice usually that you shouldn’t take it.
How Long Will This Case Take?
A young gentleman came to see me after he had been involved in a collision with a commercial truck and he was injured. He wanted to know how long the claims process would take. I explained to him that the length of a claim depends on a lot of different factors. First and foremost, we want to make sure that an individual has fully recovered from their injuries, so we will never even attempt to full resolve a claim until we know that the person has fully recovered. If you have some sort of life-long injury, that’s a different story, but typically, we want to make sure you’re okay and that we’ve got everything covered before we try and resolve the claim.
Another factor that will impact the length of the claim is the number of the defendants that you have in a case. Also, the amount of time it takes to get the information out of the defendants will affect the length. Sometimes they don’t want to willingly provide information and you have to spend months in court fighting to get it from them. Sometimes you get an insurance company on the other side that wants to play hardball; they don’t really want to offer anything, and you have no choice but to take it all the way to a trial, and sometimes it can take years to get there. Ultimately, the amount of time that it takes to resolve a claim varies case by case. It can take a few months up to several years.
How Long Do I Have to File?
A young gentleman came to me after he had been involved in a collision with a commercial truck and he wanted to know how much time he had to file his claim. Typically, you have two years to file a lawsuit if you’ve been injured in a commercial trucking collision. The only exception to that would be if the driver of the commercial vehicle is employed by a governmental entity or the truck is the property of a governmental entity, then your claim would have to be filed within six months.
It’s always important to seek the advice of skilled counsel that can help you identify the liable party and how long you have to file.
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How Much is My Case Worth?
I met with one of my clients who’d been injured. She was hit by a large commercial truck and she was wondering what the value of her claim was. I had to explain to her that the value of any claim depends on a lot of factors. In a trucking case, the value of the claim can fluctuate wildly, depending on how egregious the defendant’s conduct has been. As a case progresses, quite often we will uncover evidence where we can show the trucking company has deliberately broken rules or sometimes even unintentionally not followed rules that have put the public in danger. It’s their violation of the safety rules that causes injury.
When you have a defendant who is intentionally breaking the rules and putting the public at risk, it can greatly affect the value of the case. It can increase the value of your claim, even if you’re not that injured. The seriousness and the extent of your injury can also affect the value of your claim. How long it takes you to recover from your injuries will affect the value of your claim. Any missed time from work will affect the value of your claim. At the end of the day, it’s important to consult with a professional attorney who is well-versed in trucking cases, so that they can help you determine the full value of your case.
Contact Our Attorneys Today
If you have suffered serious injuries following a truck accident, please call our California truck accident attorney, Mindy Bish, today for a free consultation. We will fight for your justice and get you the compensation that you deserve. It is a terribly difficult thing to deal with and you should not have to try out defending yourself for the first time. Let us do the heavy lifting to get you what you are entitled to.
About the Author
Stacey Cutting is an associate at Bish & Cutting, APC, dedicated to helping clients to recover from their catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death cases. Stacey attended law school at the University of La Verne, and graduated at the top of her class. Since she began practicing in 2009, she has only ever represented injured plaintiffs, taking bold yet measured actions to root out those who violate the safety rules that protect us all.
Stacey has taken successful approaches to personal injury cases by always advocating for what’s best for her client, and never backing down. She is a faculty member at the Keenan Trial Institute, specializing in teaching other attorneys about taking meaningful depositions to help move their clients’ cases forward.